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20 Most Valuable 1990 Topps Baseball Cards

Unopened Box of 1990 Topps Baseball CardsUsually, collectors will have a strong opinion one way or the other about 1990 Topps baseball cards:

Either they love them or they hate them…

And it has everything to do with the multi-colored design.

I’ve always liked the look of these cards, and as a kid, I loved ripping packs in search of rookies and star players.

In this guide, we take a look at the 20 most valuable 1990 Topps baseball cards.

Let’s jump right in…

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Ross Uitts

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Before we get started, I do want to make it clear that most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1990 DonrussFleer, Leaf, Score, Bowman and Upper Deck sets, far too many of them were printed and the market is over-saturated with them.

So, in order for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll either have to be the Tiffany version (Topps' premium factory set) and/or be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be basically flawless.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at the top ten:

1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas Rookie Card (No Name On Front)

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $20,000

Check prices on: Amazon

You did not read that first price incorrectly.

As shocking as it may seem, yes, this version of the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas rookie card can be worth some serious money.

His standard rookie (which we'll get to later) is the key rookie card in this set, but the version without his name on the front is an incredibly rare error and collectors are willing to pay up big time for it.

Even if it's not in pristine shape, it can still be worth thousands of dollars.

1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas Rookie Card No Name On Front

1990 Topps USA#1 George Bush

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $10,000

Check prices on: Amazon

To honor President Bush, Topps printed 100 or so of these with a picture of him during his college days in his Yale uniform.

The company's chairman, Arthur Shorin, even presented some of them in a binder to the former president in 1989.

It's said that those that made it to the White House were coated with a glossy finish.

Like the "No Name On Front" Thomas rookie card, this one is exceptionally rare and card collectors go crazy for this card.

Added to that, there are presidential artifact collectors who also drive up the price for it.

1990 Topps #USA1 George Bush Baseball Card

1990 Topps #336 Ken Griffey Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $400

Check prices on: Amazon

I remember searching for this card left and right.

And I don't think I ever pulled one from a pack.

Griffey was one of the most popular players of the era and his cards were always in high demand.

The "Topps All-Star Rookie" trophy symbol made this one stand out a bit more from other cards in this set, too.

Somewhat surprisingly, Griffey Jr.'s card is actually worth more than the Frank Thomas rookie (with his name on the front).

1990 Topps #336 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card

1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $175

Check prices on: Amazon

Now, this is what Thomas's rookie card is supposed to look like when his full name appears at the bottom of the card.

Though he may not have been MLB's hottest rookie in 1990, he certainly turned into one of the biggest superstars of his era.

In fact, while fellow White Sox rookies Robin Ventura and Scott Radinsky picked up some votes for Rookie of the Year honors in 1990, Thomas didn't receive any at all.

The following season, though, Thomas broke out in a big way as he finished third in MVP voting and picked up his first of four career Silver Sluggers.

While batting .318 with 32 home runs, 104 runs scored, and 109 RBI, Thomas also led the league in walks (138), OBP (.453), and OPS (1.006), helping to launch his reputation as a disciplined and well-rounded hitter.

His rookie care is a must-have in this set and one of the most iconic cards of the 1990s.

1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas Rookie Card With Name On Front

1990 Topps #690 Mark McGwire

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $100

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The Oakland Athletics were the hottest team in baseball in 1990 as they’d go on to finish 103-59 in the regular season and swept the Red Sox 4-0 in the AL Championship Series.

With a well-rounded offense led by the heavy-hitting “Bash Brothers” Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, the A’s had no problem putting runs on the board all season long.

However, things changed in the World Series as they couldn’t seem to figure out the Cincinnati Reds pitching and shockingly found themselves on the other end of a sweep.

After belting 38 home runs and driving in 108 RBI during the regular season, McGwire’s power stroke was silent when it mattered most.

“Big Mac” batted just .214 with zero home runs and zero RBI, while fellow “Bash Brother” Jose Canseco didn’t fare much better.

The dynamic duo had been shut down, something that was unheard of heading into the World Series.

1990 Topps #690 Mark McGwire Baseball Card

1990 Topps #692 Sammy Sosa Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

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It would take a few years for Sammy Sosa's career to heat up so I don't recall this card being too hyped at the time.

But as his career progressed and the home runs kept piling up, he turned into one of the most popular players in the league.

We all know of his association with the PED controversy.

Despite that tarnished reputation, his 1990 Topps rookie still has some value to it in high grade. 

1990 Topps #692 Sammy Sosa Rookie Card

1990 Topps #757 Larry Walker Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $75

Check prices on: Amazon

Larry Walker could flat out rake.

And he could field, too.

He was one of my favorite players to watch growing up as the guy could do it all.

I especially remember that monstrous 1997 season he had with 49 home runs, 143 runs scored, 130 RBI and a .363 batting average.

Remarkably, that stat line wasn't good enough to take home the Triple Crown but he did win MVP honors that season.

Walker's rookie card received quite a boost in price once he finally received the call to the Hall of Fame.

1990 Topps #757 Larry Walker Rookie Card

1990 Topps #1 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $60

Check prices on: Amazon

Ryan's popularity drives most of the reason for the value of this card being what it is.

There are tons of Nolan Ryan collectors so demand is still decent for this card.

Because of his accomplishment the year before of eclipsing the 5,000 strikeout mark, Topps placed him as the first card in their 1990 set.

They also created a subset for him as a tribute to his legendary career that spanned across his time with the Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers which we'll get to a bit later on this list.

1990 Topps #1 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1990 Topps #300 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

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Bo Jackson was an incredibly popular athlete during the late 80s and early 90s. His reputation as a two-sport superstar earned him a place in commercials, video games, and even cartoons.

He was everywhere.

On the football field, Jackson was one of the game's best backs with a devastating combination of speed and power.

On the baseball field, Jackson had a cannon for an arm and a compact, powerful swing, which is on full display on this card.

Unfortunately, the 1990 season would be Jackson's last full season in baseball as a devastating hip injury during a football game in 1991 prevented him from ever playing at his All-Star level again.

Despite the disappointing turn of events in his career, collectors of that era still love Jackson and have built quite the following for his cards these days.

1990 Topps #300 Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1990 Topps #570 Cal Ripken Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

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Under manager Frank Robinson, the 1990 Baltimore Orioles finished fifth in the AL East with a 76-85 record.

It was an underwhelming season for the team overall and Ripken’s numbers weren’t the greatest either as he batted just .250 with 21 home runs, 84 RBI, and 78 runs scored.

Still, “The Iron Man” played well enough to earn his eighth straight trip to the All-Star game.

Ripken would regroup during the offseason to turn in the finest season of his career, setting multiple personal bests during the 1991 campaign while taking home his second MVP to go along with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.

1990 Topps #570 Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Card

1990 Topps #450 Rickey Henderson

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $50

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In his first full season back in Oakland after a four-and-a-half-year stint with the Yankees, Rickey Henderson played lights out in 1990, to put it mildly.

Rickey led the AL in four major statistical categories beginning with runs scored (119), stolen bases (65), OPS (1.016), and OBP (.439).

Leading the league in runs scored and stolen bases was nothing new for Henderson, but it was the first time in his career that he outpaced everyone in OBP and OPS.

Within that OBP stat was the remarkable fact that Henderson either walked or hit safely in 125 of the 136 games he played that season.

And he nearly won the batting title with his .325 average, narrowly losing out to George Brett (.329) on the final day of the season.

Not surprisingly, Henderson picked up the AL MVP award that year.

While most of the team struggled at the plate in the World Series that year, Henderson was one of the lone bright spots as he batted .333 (5-15) with an OBP of .444, an OPS of 1.111, two runs scored, and three stolen bases.

1990 Topps #450 Rickey Henderson Baseball Card

1990 Topps #701 Bernie Williams Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $45

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Bernie Williams was an extremely productive player during the mid to late 1990's.

And he was an integral part of the Yankees dominance of that era.

I used to love watching him play--he was a class act.

You could argue he was a better center fielder than others (like Lloyd Waner, for example) who made it to the Hall of Fame, too.

His 1990 Topps rookie card has held up over the years with decent value.

1990 Topps #701 Bernie Williams Rookie Card

1990 Topps #220 Barry Bonds

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

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After four promising seasons, Barry Bonds’ career began to skyrocket in 1990.

For the first time in his young career, Bonds batted over .300 (.301), drove in more than 100 RBI (114), hit more than 30 home runs (33), and scored more than 100 runs (104).

He also set a personal best for stolen bases (52) while leading the league in slugging percentage (.565) and OPS (.970).

It was a blistering campaign that launched the young superstar’s career into the stratosphere.

Because of his jaw-dropping performance that year, Bonds earned his first trip to the All-Star game, won his first MVP, and picked up his first Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards.

1990 Topps #220 Barry Bonds Baseball Card

1990 Topps #200 Don Mattingly

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

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Don Mattingly's career was almost a tale of two decades.

With six straight All-Star appearances and one MVP during the 1980s, Mattingly seemed to be on a clear path towards the Hall of Fame.

However, injuries would catch up to him, and even though he still had a top-notch glove on defense and could still hit for average, his power wasn't nearly what it used to be.

The impressive home run and RBI tallies would fade, causing Mattingly to be overlooked for any All-Star selections in the 1990s.

Similar to Bo Jackson, even though Mattingly's career declined at the height of his prime, he was one of the hottest names in the hobby of that era, and collectors still love his cards today.

1990 Topps #200 Don Mattingly Baseball Card

1990 Topps #2 Nolan Ryan "The Mets Years"

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

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Cards number 2-5 tell the story of Nolan Ryan's career with the Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers up to that point in time.

I think it was a great way to salute Ryan and these cards remain one of my favorite subsets of all-time from any set.

1990 Topps #2 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1990 Topps #2 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side Mets Career

1990 Topps #3 Nolan Ryan "The Angels Years"

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

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1990 Topps #3 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1990 Topps #3 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side Angels Career

1990 Topps #4 Nolan Ryan "The Astros Years"

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

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1990 Topps #4 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1990 Topps #4 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side Astros Career

1990 Topps #5 Nolan Ryan "The Rangers Years"

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $40

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1990 Topps #5 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card
1990 Topps #5 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side Rangers Career

1990 Topps #250 Jose Canseco

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $35

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Although back problems hampered him during the 1990 season, Jose Canseco still managed to blast home runs at one of the highest rates of his career as he would belt 37 in just 481 at-bats.

For his efforts, Canseco earned a trip to his fourth All-Star game and picked up the second Silver Slugger of his career at that point.

Unfortunately, the back issues kicked in at the wrong time as he struggled with back spasms throughout the entire postseason.

Although Canseco batted just .182 (2-11) with one RBI in the AL Championship versus the Red Sox, the Athletics collectively played well enough to sweep Boston.

Unfortunately for Oakland, Canseco was even worse in the World Series, batting 0.083 (1-12) with one home run and two RBI.

This time, the team couldn’t overcome the dip in production and fell quickly to the Reds, 4-0.

1990 Topps #250 Jose Canseco Baseball Card

1990 Topps #331 Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Value: $30

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Gonzalez was one of the most feared hitters of his era and seemed like a lock for 40+ homers and 100+ RBI every season.

I think it's odd that he was a two-time MVP but only a three-time All-Star.

He was consistently productive although he did have some seasons here and there shortened by injury.

His is the last of the key rookie cards in this set.

1990 Topps #331 Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card

1990 Topps Baseball Cards In Review

So there you have it, the ten most valuable 1990 Topps cards.

As you can see, it will take them being professionally graded in gem mint condition to be worth much.

This set was a monster and contained a 792 card checklist in total.

Within the set were also several different subsets, including:

  • All-Stars
  • Checklists
  • Manager Cards
  • Nolan Ryan 5,000 Strikeouts
  • Record Breakers
  • Topps All-Star Rookies
  • Turn Back The Clock

It really is a pretty decent set overall.

And for those of us who grew up collecting these as kids, they'll always have a huge nostalgic factor to them despite not having the most monetary value.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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