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The Best Rookie Cards and Early Career Cards of Hall of Famer Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas was nicknamed The Big Hurt. For nearly 20 decades punished baseballs against rivals, becoming one of the most prolific home run hitters of his time during a time when many of his peers were using steroids.

But who was he? And what are his best rookie cards? Will Frank Thomas rookie and early career cards put the big hurt on your wallet?

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Who is Frank Thomas?

Frank Thomas was a college star and first-round draft pick who made good in the majors, playing 19 big league seasons and being elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Over his career, the 1B and DH hit a robust .301/.419/.555, good for an OPS of .974 and an impressive OPS+ of 156. He hit 521 home runs in a career that saw him win two MVP awards, 4 Silver Slugger Awards, and make the All Star team five times.

His 73.8 career WAR ranks 8th all-time among first basemen, well above the 65.0 average career WAR for Hall of Fame first basemen.

Frank Thomas auto

The Top 5 Frank Thomas Rookie Cards

Frank Thomas burst into the major league scene in 1990 (just a year after being drafted) with a .330/.454/.529 line in 60 games. Demand for his rookie cards came quickly, and really never let up during Thomas’ impressive career.

His rookie cards were produced at the peak of the junk wax era, so keep an eye on population counts, but also enjoy the fact that Thomas rookie cards are (generally) affordable.

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1990 Leaf Frank Thomas #300

Following in the footstep of Upper Deck a year prior, Leaf burst onto the scene in 1990 as an ultra-premium offering. The set, released by Donruss, remains a landmark release of the era.

The 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas #300, despite its iconic status, is still a junk wax-era rookie card. That means it has a high PSA population. The card is still in high demand with collectors, and in a PSA 10 slab it sells strongly in the $160-180 range.

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Frank Thomas 1990 Leaf rookie card
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Leaf Frank Thomas #30020,853PSA 10 = 4,107PSA 10 = $160-180

The 1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF #414

Cardlines has already covered Everything You Need To Know About The Frank Thomas No Name on Front Error Card.

But here’s the Cliff Notes version: Hot rookie. Rare printing error. Big demand. Even in a PSA 7, prices have been well over $6,000 recently.

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1990 Frank Thomas No Name on Front

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Topps Frank Thomas NNOF #414250PSA 7 = 44PSA 7 = $6,150

1990 Topps Frank Thomas #414

Like the Thomas NNOF card, but not looking to break the bank? Or maybe you just like cards with the player’s name on the front? Good news…there is a corrected version of the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas #414 that is far more plentiful and affordable.

Again, the junk waxiness means that this is a high PSA population card, which keeps the price reasonable, but the card does still sell well because of collector demand.

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Frank Thomas 1990 Topps rookie card
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Topps Frank Thomas #41420,275PSA 10 = 3,396PSA 10 = $60-100

1990 Bowman Frank Thomas #320

The 1990 Bowman set is an overlooked one, in my opinion. The PSA population, the lowest of the base set Frank Thomas rookie cards, backs this up. The lower population means this one sells for a bit more than the higher population Topps and Score cards, between $100-140 in PSA 10.

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Frank Thomas 1990 Bowman rookie card
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Bowman Frank Thomas #3203,857PSA 10 = 660PSA 10 = $100-140

1990 Score Frank Thomas #663

The 1990 Score Frank Thomas #663 is the most affordable of Thomas’ mainstream rookie cards. This is despite a population that, while still high, is significantly lower than the 1990 Topps and Leaf offerings.

The sheer affordability of this card, even in a PSA 10 slab, means there’s room for one in every collection.

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Frank Thomas 1990 Score rookie card

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Score Frank Thomas #6639,860PSA 10 = 2,415PSA 10 = $45-60

Interestingly, while Donruss produced the Leaf Thomas, for some reason they struck out on Thomas in their flagship product.

Frank Thomas Tiffany & O-Pee Chee rookie cards

Looking for something a bit harder to find, a bit higher price, and a bit more obscure, without shelling out for the NNOF error?

Tiffany versions of both the 1990 Bowman and 1990 Topps Thomas rookie card exist and have much lower populations than the standard offerings. They command higher prices in line with their relative rarity.

Another option is the O-Pee-Chee version of the Thomas rookie card. The card has a lower population than even the Tiffany versions, and is a strong seller, when you can find one.

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Shop for Frank Thomas O-Pee Chee rookie cards on eBay

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Bowman Tiffany Frank Thomas #3201,041PSA 10 = 103PSA 10 = $1,625
1990 Topps Tiffany Frank Thomas #4141,034PSA 9 = 442PSA 9 = $200-400
1990 O-Pee-Chee Frank Thomas #414460PSA 10 = 126PSA 10 = $700

Frank Thomas pre-rookie & minor league cards

Considering that Thomas made his major league debut roughly a year after being drafted, he appears on a number of minor league and pre-rookie cards. Some of these are rather low-population cards, and sell for solid prices, when they do come available.

The 1987 Pan Am Team USA Blue Frank Thomas #26 is Frank Thomas’ first-ever cardboard appearance. It commemorates Thomas’ appearance representing the US in the 1987 Pan Am games. The set contains several other future major leaguers, and is worth checking out.

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Note that the 1987 Pan Am Frank Thomas has a blue border. There was a similar card created in 1990 that has red borders.

While still an amateur, Thomas played in the Cape Cod league in the summer of 1988. The wooden bat collegiate league has long been a testing ground for future major leaguers. He appeared on two different Cape Code League cards that year.

Both are nice additions to a Thomas collection, but a quick look at the PSA population numbers explains why one sells for much more than the other.

In 1990, Frank Thomas appeared on minor league cards including 1990 CMC and 1990 Best. These cards offer some lower populations and sells for a solid price in high grade.

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Shop for 1990 Best Frank Thoms rookie card on eBay

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1987 Pan Am Team USA Blue BDK Frank Thomas #26289PSA 9 = 93PSA 9 = $250-300
1988 Ballpark Cape Cod League Prospects Frank Thomas #14243PSA 9 = 130PSA 9 = $80-100
1988 P & L Promotions Cape Cod League Frank Thomas #1261,348PSA 10 = 318PSA 10 = $75-90
1990 Best Birmingham Barons Frank Thomas #1327PSA 10 = 53PSA 10 = $350
1990 CMC Frank Thomas #818123PSA 9 = 48PSA 9 = $25-40

Other early career Frank Thomas cards

If you’re a Thomas completest, or are simply looking for a few low-cost early-career Thomas cards for your collection, there are many options.

Classic produced baseball cards in game form in the late 80s and early 90s. Thomas appears in the yellow-bordered Series III that year. The 1990 Classic Frank Thomas has a low pop, but a high percentage of PSA 10s.

Fleer whiffed on Thomas in its flagship offering, but included him in 1990 Fleer Update. These are far from rare and quite affordable.

Score did include Thomas in their flagship product, on a 1st round draft pick card, but included him on a more “standard” card in 1990 Score Rookie & Traded.

It’s lower pop than the Fleer, but sells at an even more affordable price point. There are other options in his category…the ’90s junk wax era is known for its oddball sets.

Shop for 1990 Classic Frank Thomas rookie card on eBay

Shop for 1990 Fleer Update Frank Thomas rookie card on eBay

Shop for 1990 Score Rookie and Traded Frank Thomas rookie card on eBay

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1990 Classic Yellow Frank Thomas #T93616PSA 10 = 344PSA 10 = $45-65
1990 Fleer Update Frank Thomas #U-876,084PSA 10 = 2,264PSA 10 = $35-65
1990 Score Rookie & Traded Frank Thomas #86T3,694PSA 10 = 1,733PSA 10 = $30-40

Final thoughts on the best Frank Thomas rookie cards

With the exception of one tricky error card, you can add rookie cards of the Big Hurt to your collection, even in PSA 10 slabs, without putting a big hurt on your wallet.

If you don’t mind dealing with junk wax-era cards, there’s a chance to add cards of an iconic player to your collection.

Shop for Frank Thomas rookie cards on eBay

Frank Thomas Tampa Devil Rays

More Cardlines top baseball card rookie coverage

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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