The 1993 Topps Derek Jeter Draft Picks Rookie Card is one of the most iconic Topps baseball cards ever produced and will one day be recognized as readily as the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. The front of the card features the lanky 19 year-old prospect in a navy blue Yankees jersey with pinstriped pants against a vibrant grass-green backdrop in a baseball diamond design that often shows small to moderate traces of print defects, while the back of the card shows Derek’s high school stats and reports that the 1992 Gatorade and 1992 USA Today High School Player of the Year graduated with a 3.82 grade point average. With a generous white border, the card is prone to centering issues, since even a slight centering shift will drastically affect the size of the complementary borders. For these and other reasons, PSA has awarded 1,082 Gem Mint 10s (that sell for about $100 each) from a sizable pool of 11,527 submissions, while BGS has recognized 695 Gem Mint 9.5s and just 3 prominent Pristine 10s from 8,661 submissions. At this rate, a BGS 10 Pristine example of the 1993 Topps Derek Jeter RC is nearly three times as difficult to realize as Jeter’s infamous 1993 SP Foil rookie card in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition, which reports 10 Gem Mint 10 examples from 10,426 submissions and sells for about $25,000. For a review of the BGS 10 Pristine grade versus the BGS 9.5 Gem Mint and PSA 10 Gem Mint grades, please click here to read our “Explain It to Me” blog post on the subject.
Variations, or parallels, of the iconic 1993 Topps Derek Jeter RC include a Gold version, an Inaugural Rockies and an Inaugural Marlins version, a miniature “Micro” version, and a seldom encountered blank-back version. The Gold version is a standard parallel that features gold foil over the nameplate and the Topps logo, and according to www.baseballcardpedia.com they were inserted one per wax pack, three per rack pack, five per jumbo pack, ten per factory set, 36 per 400 count collection box, and 1,000 per 12,000 count vending case. As of the date of this composition, there exist 163 PSA 10s from 2,866 submissions that have steadily increased in price over the last couple of years, now fetching between $400 and $500 in auction, while at BGS there are just 57 Gem Mint 9.5s and 2 masterpiece Pristine 10s from 2,097 submissions. The 1993 Topps Gold Derek Jeter Rookie Card is neither rare nor extremely condition sensitive, yet demand for the Midas-touched parallel continues to increase at a steady rate.
For collectors seeking true scarcity, at least relative to the 1993 Topps standard and Gold issues, there are the inaugural Rockies and Marlins versions, both of which appear identical to the standard issue except for the addition of a simple gold embossed stamp for each respective team. They were only available in factory set form at each team’s home stadium, where each team had the option of receiving as many as 10,000 sets, but actual production was reported at just 5,000 of the Rockies and 4,000 of the Marlins. To date, only 44 and 46 PSA 10s have been realized from 380 and 241 submissions, respectively, with just 22 and 29 BGS 9.5s from 168 and 126 submissions to Beckett and just a single BGS 10 Pristine for the Marlins version and none for the Rockies. The Micro version was also available only in factory sets, and they are also somewhat scarce, at least in comparison to the regular issue, and they are extremely difficult to find with accurate enough centering and image registration to realize top grades, with PSA awarding just 12 PSA 10s from 247 submissions and BGS awarding 6 BGS 9.5s and zero BGS 10 Pristines from 77 submissions. The Blank Back version, finally, is most likely the product of printers scrap that somehow made it into circulation, and although it is not an officially recognized issue, it is the sort of scarce variation that advanced collectors covet.
In terms of price, both of the Inaugural versions sell for an average of about $400 in PSA 10 Gem Mint condition. They are cheaper than the Gold version in top grades but anywhere from two to three times the price of the Gold version in raw condition and should therefore be considered a bargain in top grades at this point, especially since they have sold for as high as $600 to $700. The first few Micro versions that surfaced in PSA 10 condition a few years ago sold for $1,200 to $1,300 but now average between $500 and $600 in PSA 10 and BGS 9.5 Gem Mint condition, while the first BGS 10 Pristine will likely sell for anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 when (and if) one ever surfaces, which is unlikely given its condition sensitivity. There are no records for the sale of the two BGS 10 Pristine Gold versions nor for the lone BGS 10 Pristine Marlins version, but the first ever BGS 10 Pristine standard issue sold for a $1,999 Buy-It-Now price on eBay in April of 2013, and the second BGS 10 Pristine then sold for $3,750 on eBay just one month later. The third BGS 10 Pristine is currently available with no reserve in Small Traditions Monthly Masterpieces Plus #10 Auction, which ends Saturday, July 6th, and who knows what price will be realized when the final hammer drops.
As a final note, the 1993 Topps Derek Jeter Rookie Card is one of about 23 different Derek Jeter cards produced in 1993, and although Jeter was drafted in 1992 and has another 17 or so cards from that year, and even though his rookie season was not until 1996, when he won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, the 1993 issues have traditionally been recognized as his official rookie cards. The reason for this is because 1993 marked the first year of issue by the industry leading manufacturers, including Topps and its Bowman brand, Score and its Pinnacle brand, and of course Upper Deck and its ultra high-end SP brand. At Small Traditions, however, we recognize all Derek Jeter cards produced between his draft year of 1992 and his ROY season of 1996 as official rookie cards, and according to our latest count, there are almost 340 of them composing the Derek Jeter Master Rookie Card checklist. How many do you have?