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The Ultimate Guide to Ichiro Suzuki Rookie Cards – Worth Chasing?

A phenom from across the ocean brings his unique style and personality to the big leagues and quickly silences all doubters with a run of success seldom seen.

If it didn’t actually happen, it’d have made a great plot for a movie.

That is the story of Ichiro Suzuki. But who is Ichiro Suzuki? When will he be eligible for the Hall of Fame? And what are the best rookie cards of Ichiro Suzuki that are worth chasing?

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Who is Ichiro Suzuki?

Ichiro Suzuki debuted in the “major leagues” of his native Japan at the tender age of 18, and was a star by the time he was 20. In 951 games in Japan, he hit an impressive .353/.421/.522.

He then made the decision that he wanted to test himself against the best competition available, in the US Major Leagues. Up to that point, Japanese imports to the US were a thing, but they had been exclusively pitchers. Nobody really knew how Japanese hitting success might translate to the US.

As it turns out, it translated in a big way, at least for Ichiro. In 2001, a 27-year-old Ichiro took the baseball world by storm, hitting .350/.381/.457 for an OPS of .838 and 126 OPS+.

He led the league in hits (242), batting average (.350), and stolen bases (56), and won both the American League Rookie of the Year award and Most Valuable Player awards. He was named an All-Star, won a Gold Glove, and a Silver Slugger Award.

Over the better part of the next two decades, Ichiro showed 2001 was no fluke. He was an All-Star 10 times, and won 10 Gold Glove awards. He was a three-time Silver Slugger winner and added a second batting title in 2004 when he hit a staggering .372 with an MLB record 262 hits.

Despite not debuting in the majors until he was 27, Ichiro Suzuki collected over 3,000 major league hits (3,089) and stole over 500 bases (509). He led his league in hits 7 times, and hit .311/.355/.402 for his career. He was worth 60.0 WAR during his time in the US major leagues, an impressive total considering his years in Japan.

Beyond the numbers, Ichiro was a cultural phenomenon. He paved the way for more hitters to come from Japan to the big leagues. He inspired fans across the globe, and his smile and sense of humor endeared him to fans and fellow players alike.

Ichiro will go down as one of the icons of the first decades of baseball in the 21st century.

Best Rookie Cards of Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro and the Hall of Fame

Ichiro Suzuki will be eligible for election to the Baseball Hall of Fame during the 2025 election cycle (voting in late 2024). With his impeccable career success on both sides of the Pacific, Ichiro is a certain Hall of Famer.

If not for short cameo appearance with the Mariners in both 2018 and 2019 at the ages of 44 and 45, respectively, Ichiro would already have his place in Cooperstown.

As it stands, Ichiro is likely to garner one of the highest vote totals in the history of the Hall of Fame voting process, and has a chance to become the first position player to be elected unanimously, joining pitcher Mariano Rivera as the only player ever to sweep the voting.

Whether he reaches 100% of the vote or “only” gets to 98 or 99% of the vote, Ichiro will open the induction stage in Cooperstown in July of 2025.

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Ichiro autograph

Ichiro baseball cards

Ichiro Suzuki has appeared on a staggering 22,358 baseball cards, according to the Trading Card Database (TCDB.com). These span from 3 cards as a teenage rookie in Japan to 848 in 2023, 4 years after his 2019 retirement.

The large number of card appearances is both a testament to Ichiro’s long career and his undeniable popularity with fans and collectors.

Today we’ll focus on Ichiro’s stateside rookie cards from 2001. Ichiro appeared on many cards in his native Japan dating back to his Japanese League debut.

Those Ichiro baseball cards would take an entire article to explore on their own. If you are interested in reading that article, let us know. But for today we’ll stick to Ichiro’s US rookie cards.

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The top 10 Ichiro rookie cards

According to the Trading Card Database (TCDB.com), Ichiro Suzuki appeared on 487 cards during his US rookie season of 2001. Any Top 10 list will be somewhat subjective and far from complete.

We’re sticking to base cards, but even back in 2001 there were many levels of parallels available for some of the cards listed here.

A large number of Ichiro rookie cards means there are lots of options and an Ichiro rookie card for every taste and budget. One of the cheapest options is the 2001 Upper Deck Victory #564.

The total PSA population is almost 10,200, and even in a PSA 10 slab the card only sells for $50-75. In a PSA 9, they often sell for well under $20.

Speaking of PSA 9, I’m listing PSA population numbers and comps for PSA 10 copies, but PSA examples are more plentiful and affordable, and make a great choice as well.

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10. 2001 Upper Deck Ichiro #271

With one of the higher PSA populations on our top 10 (closing in on 2,300 graded copies), this card is also one of the most affordable.

And it’s a solid card, with a full bleed photo and glossy finish. In a PSA 10 slab, it sells for between $150 and $200.

2001 Upper Deck Ichiro

9. 2001 Fleer Tradition Ichiro #452

With a horizontal layout that is reminiscent of designs of the past, the 2001 Fleer Tradition Ichiro has a PSA population south of 700 with fewer than 150 PSA 10s. In a PSA 10, the card sells for about $225.

2001 Fleer Tradition Ichiro

8. 2001 Bowman Heritage Ichiro #352

Sticking to the vintage-themed cards, the 2001 Bowman Heritage Ichiro features a vintage feel and very clean design, with a black and white portrait of Ichiro as the major design element.

The card not only rocks a vintage look and feel, but also a low PSA population, with 317 graded copies and only 77 PSA 10s. In that PSA 10 state, recent comps have been between $225 and $330.

2001 Bowman Heritage Ichiro

7/6. 2001 Topps Gallery Ichiro #151 English & Japanese

The 2001 Topps Gallery product brings museum-grade artwork to the card design, with a nice painting-style portrait of Ichiro on his rookie card.

Adding an additional twist, the card comes in two variations, one each with English and Japanese text. Both have PSA populations around 400, with PSA 10 counts just south of 150.

The Japanese version sells for a bit more than the English, but both are great additions to an Ichiro collection. As a pair, they’re even better.

5. 2001 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Ichiro #BDP84

In 2001, the Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects product was in its sophomore season and was released only in complete set form. The set also contains the rookie card of Hall of Fame candidate Chase Utley.

The Ichiro in the set has been graded just over 2,000 times but with only 221 PSA 10s (10.9%). In a PSA 10 slab, expect to pay $475-600 for one of these.

2001 Bowman Ichiro Suzuki

4. 2001 Topps Ichiro Suzuki #726

The most graded card on our list is unsurprisingly the 2001 Topps flagship card. With over 5,850 copies graded by PSA, these aren’t exactly rare. What is surprisingly rare, though, are PSA 10 copies.

Only 167 PSA 10 copies exist, a mere 2.9% of the total. Those blue-green borders were prone to chipping.

Due to the ultra-low PSA 10 population, expect to pay $1,000 to $1,200 in that condition. PSA 9s are more plentiful, although not as plentiful as 8s, and sell for $90-115.

2001 Topps Ichiro Suzuki

3. 2001 Topps Chrome Traded & Rookies Ichiro Suzuki #T266

The next offering on our list was available in packs, unlike what most would expect from a Traded & Rookies set. The Traded set included both standard cards and Chrome cards in each pack.

The Ichiro Suzuki is available only in Chrome form and is considered his true Topps Chrome rookie card (Ichiro did not appear in the Topps Chrome set).

With just over 1,600 PSA graded copies and 322 PSA 10s, these are not impossible to find, but hard enough to find a 10 that they demand a strong return. Expect to pay $1,400 to $1,700 for a copy in a PSA 10 slab.

2001 Topps Chrome Traded Ichiro Suzuki

2/1. 2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro Suzuki #351 English & Japanese

Speaking of Chrome, the top two cards on our list also feature the Chromium. And like another earlier card on the list, also comes in both English and Japanese text variations. Those would be the 2001 Bowman Chrome cards, Ichiro’s most valuable and sought-after rookie cards.

The Japanese version is the rarer of the two, with only 306 copies graded by PSA. The English version is not exactly plentiful, however, with only 393 graded by PSA. There are 36 PSA 10 of each.

They start at about $5,500, and prices go up from there. The English tops out at around $7,600, while comps for the Japanese version go up to $9,000.

By the numbers: The top 10 best rookie cards of Ichiro Suzuki

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
2001 Upper Deck Ichiro #2712,281PSA 10 = 464PSA 10 = $150-200
2001 Fleer Tradition Ichiro #452698PSA 10 = 147PSA 10 = $225
2001 Bowman Heritage Ichiro #352317PSA 10 = 77PSA 10 = $225-330
2001 Topps Gallery Ichiro #151 English400PSA 10 = 149PSA 10 = $200-275
2001 Topps Gallery Ichiro #151 Japanese413PSA 10 = 146PSA 10 = $275-$400
2001 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Ichiro #BDP842,017PSA 10 = 221PSA 10 = $475-600
2001 Topps Ichiro Suzuki #7265,851PSA 10 = 167PSA 10 = $1,000-1,200
2001 Topps Chrome Traded & Rookies Ichiro Suzuki #T2661,608PSA 10 = 322PSA 10 = $1,400-1,700
2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro Suzuki #351
VAR: English Text on Back
393PSA 10 = 36PSA 10 = $5,500-$7,600
2001 Bowman Chrome Ichiro Suzuki #351
VAR: Japanese Text on Back
306PSA 10 = 36PSA 10 = $5,500-$9,000

Are Ichiro Suzuki baseball cards a good investment?

The fact that Ichiro Suzuki was a very good baseball player is not a surprise to anyone. The fact that he’ll be elected to the Hall of Fame is not a surprise, either.

Add in the fact that Ichiro cards are already far from inexpensive, and it may seem there is not a lot of upside for Ichiro cards.

That may be mostly true. That being said, while it’s been no surprise for quite some time that Ichiro will make the Hall of Fame, not all fans and collectors track the Hall of Fame voting. This is especially true of upcoming election classes.

So, between now and when the talk of the next election cycle picks up, perhaps around November, there may be  chance to pick up some Ichiro cards before the Hall of Fame speculation and election put the spotlight back on Ichiro and give his card values a bit of a bump.

It may not be a huge bump, but it’s likely the attention will give prices a small increase.

Some of that increase will be temporary, meaning it may be a good time to sell, although once Ichiro takes his rightful place in the Hall of Fame, his cards should continue to be a blue chip investment for years to come.

Ichiro Suzuki autograph

Final thoughts on the top 10 best rookie cards of Ichiro Suzuki

Ichiro Suzuki was a legend on both sides of the Pacific. His rookie cards are as highly sought after now as they were when he first crossed the ocean and showed the world that baseball skills as great as his translate to any league.

When Ichiro takes his rightful place in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2025, the entire baseball world will be reminded of his incredible career, personality, and stardom once again.

It’s a good time to remember that Ichiro had several rookie cards, ranging from the quite rare and expensive to the quite inexpensive to acquire. There’s a place in just about any collection for an Ichiro rookie card.

What’s your favorite Ichiro memory? What is your favorite Ichiro rookie card? What do you think his Hall of Fame vote total ends up being? Tell us what’s on your mind at card_lines 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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