The 1980’s and early 1990’s saw a boom in baseball card collecting. One of the most memorable sets during this time was the 1990 Topps set. This set, featuring a colorful border surrounding each player’s photo on the front, included 44 future MLB Hall-of-Fame players and managers. Of those Hall of Famers, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Larry Walker had their rookie cards within this 792-card set.
Although Thomas, Griffey, and Walker’s cards are in the set, the combined value of the 792 cards pales in comparison to the price of the most valuable card associated with it: a specialty George Bush card. The company Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), the world’s leading sports memorabilia authentication service, estimates that a near mint-to-mint Bush card is valued at 4,000 dollars. A mint card sold on eBay recently for 25,695 dollars.
How did such a card come into existence and become so valuable?
George Bush will be remembered in American history for being vice president to Ronald Reagan and becoming the 41st President of the United States immediately after, serving from 1989 to 1993.
Prior to his presidency, as well as his time in politics, Bush attended Yale College from 1946 to 1948 after serving in the Navy at the tail end of World War II. During his time at Yale, Bush competed on the baseball team, serving as their captain and starting first baseman. He helped lead the Bulldogs to appearances in the first two College World Series.
According to Topps Magazine, during Bush’s presidency, one of his grandsons asked the former president why he had never been on a baseball card despite his connection to the sport’s history. Upon hearing this, Topps produced a special card featuring a black-and-white photo of Bush in his Yale uniform. In December 1989, Arthur Shorin, president of Topps, presented Bush with a binder full of copies of the cards.
In all, Topps claimed to have made only 100 prints of the card. Despite this specific number being released, collectors across the country questioned whether or not the card was to just be available to those at Topps and those close to the former president.
Soon after, word began spreading about collectors pulling the special edition card from packs. In addition, workers at Topps and people within the White House began trading and selling copies of the card. The limited run and even more limited availability to copies of the card makes it one of the most valuable cards released post-1980.
Although this card is extremely rare, it wasn’t the last time that the Bush family appeared on trading cards. After the 1990 Topps set, Bush would appear on numerous cards, including one found in the 1991 Operation Desert Storm set. His son and the 43rd President, George W. Bush, also appeared on baseball cards, being included in the 2013 Topps Archives Baseball set as well as being photoshopped into the background of Derek Jeter’s 2007 Topps card along with Mickey Mantle.
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