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The Top 9 CC Sabathia Rookie Cards

The game of baseball is changing. Sometimes, it changes much faster than we think, especially when it comes to the usage of starting pitchers. C.C. Sabathia has only been retired for 5 years, yet his career totals feel like something out of a bygone era.

But who is C.C. Sabathia? What are his Hall of Fame prospects? And what are the best C.C. Sabathia rookie cards, and are they worth chasing?

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Who is CC Sabathia?

C.C. Sabathia was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 1st round of the 1998 MLB June Amateur Draft. He rose quickly through the minor leagues and burst into the big leagues in 2001 at age 20. He went 17-5 with a 4.39 ERA and finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting, to Ichiro Suzuki.

That was a strong start to a 19-year career that saw him rack up innings and wins like few of his contemporaries. The 6’6”, 300-pound Sabathia would make 6 All-Star teams, win the 2007 Cy Young Award, and finish in the top 5 of the Cy Young voting four other times.

Sabathia helped lead the Yankees to a 2009 World Series win, winning the ALCS MVP award along the way.

During his career, C.C. Sabathia held a record of 251-161 with a 3.74 ERA (116 ERA+). He finished his career with 3,093 strikeouts in 3,577.1 IP and accumulated a 62.3 WAR over his long career.

While this is well below the “average” WAR for starting pitchers (73.0), he is surrounded by a number of Hall of Famers on the all-time WAR list among SPs. The 62.3 WAR ranks 53rd all-time among starting pitchers.

Best C.C. Sabathia Rookie Cards

C.C. Sabathia and the Hall of Fame

C.C. Sabathia will be eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time in late 2024, with a chance to join the 2025 induction class.

Sabathia has an interesting Hall of Fame case. Despite only hanging up his spikes five years ago, a glimpse at Sabathia’s stats suggests a different era.

With over 250 wins and 3,500 innings pitched, Sabathia was a workhorse, the sort that is not seen today. On the surface, Sabathia’s statistics look very similar to those of former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte.

Pettitte has been on the Hall of Fame ballot six times and has not seen any momentum towards election. His 2024 total of 13.5% of the vote is well below the 75% required for induction. So, is Sabathia looking at a similar fate?

Pettitte does have some PED stain on his legacy, and he never won a Cy Young Award (Sabathia won the 2007 AL CY Young), and was an All-Star only 3 times (compared to 6 for Sabathia).

The early rumblings about the 2025 Hall of Fame ballot include talk of Sabathia as a likely Hall of Famer, perhaps even a 1st ballot inductee. This was a bit surprising to me, but I think Sabathia (and Pettitte) both belong, so I’ll take Sabathia getting in without a long fight.

So, Sabathia appears to have at least a solid chance of making the Hall of Fame sooner than Pettitte. But unlike fellow 2025 Hall of Fame 1st-time candidate Ichiro Suzuki, who’s a no-doubt 1st ballot inductee, Sabathia may sneak up on some people.

If he gets elected, or at least turns in a good vote showing in year one, demand for his cards could see a bump as folks rush to get his cards. This may be more pronounced, and temporary, than the usual “Hall of Fame Bump” many players get when elected.

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C.C. Sabathia Baseball Cards

According to the Trading Card Database (TCDB.com), C.C. Sabathia has appeared on 7,872 baseball cards, ranging from one in 1998 to eight (so far) in 2024.

While this article will focus on rookie and pre-rookie cards, Sabathia has also appeared on several autograph and relic cards that are worth chasing.

C.C. Sabathia has his rookie cards in 1999 products. For this veteran collector, it’s hard to fathom that those cards were produced a quarter of a century ago. What that means is that while plenty of these cards are in unopened packs, the printing technology of the day and the ravages of time mean there likely aren’t many PSA 10s still in packs for many of these sets.

The glossy finishes of the Y2K era often led to bricking, and at least a few of these sets were especially susceptible to chipping.

The Top 9 Best C.C. Sabathia Rookie Cards

TCDB.com has C.C. Sabathia appearing on 29 different cards in 1999. Not all of these are rookie cards, however (more on that later). But what are some of Cabathia’s most collectible rookie cards?

We’ll share our Top 9, one for each inning in a complete game, a category in which Sabathia twice led his league.

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9. 1999 Bowman’s Best C.C. Sabathia #171

With a total PSA population of only 363 and a shiny metallic design, the first entry on our list is likely a bit underrated. Many of the raw or unopened copies of this card you come across likely have chipping, bricking, or surface scratches.

Yet a PSA-graded copy is quite reasonable for a 25-year-old card of a potential Hall of Famer. Even in a PSA 10, recent comps have been in the $60-90 range.

8. 1999 Topps Traded & Rookies C.C. Sabathia #T33

The end-of-season boxed-set-released 1999 Topps Traded & Rookies Sabathia has been graded 1,312 times by PSA. While that’s one of the highest totals on this list, it’s far from high.

In a PSA these will set you back $70-100, which is not bad for Topps first card of Sabathia.

7. 1999 Finest C.C. Sabathia #294

Another card that’s low on PSA population (422) and high on shine, and is likely somewhat overlooked. Even in a PSA 10, these can be purchased for around $100.

6. 1999 Bowman C.C. Sabathia #344

It’s somewhat hard to fathom that the “paper” version of the Sabathia’s 1st Bowman card (although the card predates that logo) only has a total PSA population of 321, with only 101 PSA 10s.

With both bricking and chipping issues, these can be tough to find in a high-grade condition. There are no recent comps for a PSA 10, although copies in PSA 9 slabs have sold recently in the $35-40 range.

5. 1999 Bowman Chrome C.C. Sabathia #344

The Chrome version of the 1st Bowman appearance of C.C. Sabathia has the highest PSA population on the list, at just a bit over 1,500 graded copies, it’s not over-graded by any accounts.

Despite the higher population count, the card offers a premium Sabathia rookie card and sells for $150-175 in a PSA 10 slab.

4. 1999 Bowman International C.C. Sabathia #344

Bowman International was a one-per-pack seeded parallel back when that idea was fairly new. PSA has graded just 32 copies of the International parallel, with only 3 PSA 10s. No recent comp price was available.

3. 1999 Bowman Chrome International C.C. Sabathia #344

Bowman International was a one-per-pack seeded parallel back when that idea was fairly new. PSA has graded 32 copies of the International parallel, with only 3 PSA 10s. No recent comp price was available.

2. 1999 Topps Chrome Traded and Rookies C.C. Sabathia #T33

The Chrome version of the 1999 Topps Traded and Rookies Sabathia is his most premium unsigned rookie card. PSA has graded just over 950 copies, with only about 12.7% of those in PSA 10 slabs. In that condition, they fetch around $550 according to recent comps.

1. 1999 Topps Traded & Rookies Autographs C.C. Sabathia #T33

Topps inserted autographed cards of 75 subjects, one per complete factory set, into 1999 Topps Traded and Rookies. Sabathia is the biggest name on the checklist, although other players such as Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn had strong careers.

While not serial numbered, there weren’t many of these autographed cards produced, especially by the standards of the day. The Sabathia autograph card has been only graded by PSA 93 times, with a scant 5 PSA 10 copies. The most recent sale of a PSA 10 example was for $750.

While that’s far from inexpensive, for a 25-year-old card of a probable future Hall of Famer, it feels like a card with upside. People pay that much or more for prospect autographs, and less than 1% of them will have a career even half of what Sabathia accomplished.

By the Numbers: The Top 9 Best C.C. Sabathia Cards

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1999 Bowman’s Best C.C. Sabathia #171363PSA 10 = 128PSA 10 = $60-90
1999 Topps Traded & Rookies C.C. Sabathia #T331,312PSA 10 = 439PSA 10 = $70-100
1999 Finest C.C. Sabathia #294422PSA 10 = 241PSA 10 = $100
1999 Bowman C.C. Sabathia #344321PSA 10 = 101PSA 10 = NA
1999 Bowman Chrome C.C. Sabathia #3441,522PSA 10 = 579PSA 10 = $150-175
1999 Bowman International C.C. Sabathia #34432PSA 10 = 3PSA 10 = NA
1999 Bowman Chrome International C.C. Sabathia #34434PSA 10 = 10PSA 10 = NA
1999 Topps Chrome Traded and Rookies C.C. Sabathia #T33951PSA 10 = 121PSA 10 = $550
1999 Topps Traded & Rookies Autographs C.C. Sabathia #T3393PSA 10 = 5PSA 10 = $750

C.C. Sabathia prospect & minor league cards

Sabathia’s first cardboard appearance came in 1998, as Sabathia was part of the minor league 1998 Blueline Appalachian League Top Prospects set. The card has been graded by PSA only 12 times, with three of those being PSA 10s.

The card has green borders that are very prone to chipping. Raw copies and sets are affordable if you’re not concerned with high-grade perfection.

Sabathia’s only team-issued minor league card is in the 1999 Multi-Ad Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The card is a bit tougher to find, with PSA only grading 6 copies, with only one PSA 10.

Also in 1999, Sabathia appeared on several prospect cards produced by companies including Just and Team Best. Some of these have serial-numbered parallels and autographs.  

The minor league and prospect cards offer will have lower demand than the major company rookie cards, but their uniqueness and low population counts make them valuable additions to a C.C. Sabathia collection.

Final thoughts on the best C.C. Sabathia rookie cards

The general consensus is that C.C. Sabathia will eventually make the Hall of Fame, potentially as early as next year.

If you believe this to be true, his cards could certainly have some upside as his election will take some collectors by surprise, creating some demand for his cards, with first a larger temporary increase, but then a long-term higher floor as you see with most Hall of Famers.

What do you think of C.C. Sabathia’s Hall of Fame chances? What is your favorite C.C. Sabathia rookie card? And what other cards do you think are worth chasing? Tell us what’s on your mind at Cardlines on Twitter.

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More Cardlines coverage of top rookie cards

Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.
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