When Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez retired, many were ready to include him in the discussion of greatest catchers of all time.
Pudge was an excellent hitter, providing rare middle-of-the-lineup production from the catcher position on his way to racking up six silver slugger awards in his career.
But it was his incredible defense that really elevates his legacy, especially his amazing arm from behind the plate ready to gun down anyone daring enough to test him on the basepaths.
There was little doubt that Pudge would eventually receive the invitation to Cooperstown but because of very loose suspicions of steroid use, he wasn’t expected to get in on his first try.
However, in one of the pleasant surprises of the day, when the votes were tallied, Pudge received just enough votes to cross the 75% threshold and punch his ticket to the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). Now that he’s in, how much are his cards worth?
At fivecardguys.com we are tracking the online selling price of each of the 2017 hall of fame inductees before and after the Jan. 18 official announcement. We tracked Pudge’s three most popular and valued rookie cards (graded PSA 10). These include his 1991 Topps Traded, 1991 Ultra Update, and 1991 Upper Deck rookie cards, which you can see above.
What is noteworthy is that Pudge’s rookie cards saw the highest percentage increase of the three HOF inductees. While Raines’ card values increased in the 27-33% and Bagwell’s cards increased in the 21-45% range, Pudge’s cards increased in valuation anywhere from 41-66%.
His Topps Traded increased from an average selling price of $21 to $30 (41% increase), while his Upper Deck cards average selling price increased from $13-$19 (47% increase) and his Ultra Update cards average selling price increased from $32-$55 (66% increase). So why did Pudge’s cards valuation increase the most?
There are two factors which probably come into play. The first is that Pudge Rodriguez cards were the most affordable to purchase, which means not only were they more accessible to the average fan, but any price increase would also have had more of an impact on the percent increase in valuation.
However, the main reason is probably that of the three inductees, Pudge was the biggest surprise to make the HOF. Many were expecting Pudge to follow a track similar to Mike Piazza, a member of the 2016 HOF who got in on his fourth year on the ballet.
Not many were expecting him to get in on his first year of eligibility. Therefore, prices of his rookie cards never had a chance to gradually creep up in value in expectation of the inevitable, and collectors had to aggressively pounce on his rookie cards when the announcement was made.
If you were a risk taker and had a gut feeling earlier that Pudge would be a first ballot hall of famer, our respect goes out to you, and we hope you enjoy the rewards.