10 Most Valuable 1990 Upper Deck Baseball Cards

Unopened Box of 1990 Upper Deck Baseball CardsI’ve always thought that 1990 Upper Deck baseball cards have been somewhat overlooked in the hobby…

True, the set is lacking of any iconic rookie cards.

And most of the cards in the set have long since seen their values plummet.

But, the set did feature fantastic photography, some interesting errors/variations, and most significantly, the first pack-inserted cards with a player’s autograph (Reggie Jackson) on them.

Those autograph inserts forever changed the hobby as most every set produced these days contains autograph inserts.

But do any of the other cards in this hobby-changing set really have much value these days?

In this guide, I’ll take a look at the 10 most valuable and some of their values may surprise you.

Let’s jump right in!

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Ross Uitts

Ross Uitts - Owner

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Before we start, I do want to be crystal clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1990 Donruss, Topps and Fleer sets, they were overproduced and that has destroyed their value.

To have much worth they'll either need to be an error/variation or be graded in perfect PSA 10 gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be basically flawless.

And even then, they'll likely only sell between $10 - $25 at most.

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

1990 Upper Deck Heroes Reggie Jackson Autograph

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $350

The 1990 Upper Deck set contained a monstrous 800-card checklist that was distributed in two series: the Low Series (#1-700) and the High Series (#701-800).

And within some of those high series packs, the company randomly inserted any one of the 10-card Reggie Jackson Heroes insert set.

What made these cards truly unique, though, was that Reggie Jackson had actually autographed 2,500 of them.

It was all part of the company's "Find The Reggie" chase campaign that was created as a way to boost sales of the product by keeping collector interest high in the hope of pulling one of the autographed cards.

This practice is common today but this set marked the first time a company had every included autographed inserts making this a key milestone in the hobby.

1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson Autographed Baseball Card

1990 Upper Deck #702 Mike Witt Error

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $200

Mike Witt spent twelve years in the Majors and had a decent stretch of seasons from 1984-1988 as he'd win 77 games over that span and would appear in two All-Star games.

However, what's he's most remembered for in the baseball card world is his 1990 Upper Deck issue upon which a large black box was placed on its reverse.

Apparently, the controversy had something to do with his pants being undone...

So, the company quickly pulled his card from production and replaced it with a card featuring three rookie studs for the Expos: Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom and Delino Deshields.

Originally it was believed that less than a dozen of these error cards made it into circulation until someone recently discovered hundreds of them at a flea market.

While that increase in supply did bring values down, this card can still sell for quite a bit in PSA 10 condition.

1990 Upper Deck #702 Mike Witt Baseball Card Error
1990 Upper Deck #702 Mike Witt Baseball Card Error. Reverse With Black Box

1990 Upper Deck #156 Ken Griffey Jr.

No Copyright Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $100

With Copyright Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

While the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card took the hobby by storm when it was first released, his second-year Upper Deck card was also a hobby favorite.

The imagery on the front of the card is fantastic as it features a young Griffey with a big, bright smile on his face.

However, the reverse side is actually what makes this card special as it appeared with one of two variations: with or without the copyright information.

If you look closely at the pictures below, you'll notice that the reverse side of one card contains copyright information just under the MLB logo while the other one does not.

The version without the copyright information is more rare and in top grade can fetch around $100 or more.

1990 Upper Deck #156 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card
1990 Upper Deck #156 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card Reverse With No Copyright
1990 Upper Deck #156 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card With Copyright Displayed

1990 Upper Deck #734 Nolan Ryan

No Stripe Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $30

With Stripe Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $15

As you can tell by now, this set had its fair share of variations...

Nolan Ryan's card #734 was one of those.

The front of the card can appear with or without the "300th Win" stripe in the lower-right corner, with the version without the stripe being the rarer and more valuable of the two.

This card has always puzzled me not so much because of the variations but because the reverse of the card commemorates his 6th no-hitter, not his 300th win.

Therefore, a "6th No-Hitter" stripe on the front might be more appropriate...

1990 Upper Deck #734 Nolan Ryan Without Stripe Baseball Card
1990 Upper Deck #702 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card With 300 Win Stripe
1990 Upper Deck #734 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card Reverse Side

1990 Upper Deck #466 Larry Walker Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $20

As I mentioned earlier, Larry Walker appeared alongside fellow rookie teammates Delino DeShields and Marquis Grissom on card #702 that replaced the Mike Witt black box error.

But, he had his own standalone rookie card in this set as well.

The card features Walker on base, something he did quite well over his career as he'd go on to post an impressive career .400 OBP.

Will Walker eventually be elected into the Hall of Fame?

We'll see...many will argue that the Coors Field bias worked heavily in his favor to help boost his career hitting totals.

Regardless, I always loved watching him play and will always remember his incredible 1997 MVP season when he smacked 49 home runs, drove in 130 RBI, scored 143 runs, and sported a .363 batting average.

1990 Upper Deck #466 Larry Walker Rookie Card

1990 Upper Deck #72 Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $12

Throughout the 1990s, Gonzalez was one of the most feared hitters in the Major Leagues and arguably the greatest hitter to ever wear a Rangers uniform.

Every year he seemed capable of putting up 40+ home runs and 120+ RBI.

I'll never forget his 1998 season in which he had 100 RBI by the All-Star break and excitement filled the air as many thought he would challenge Hack Wilson's single season mark of 191 by the time the season was over.

However, he ended up falling short and finished with "only" 157...still an incredible total and one of the highest single-season marks ever.

While his talent was undeniable, Gonzalez's career will always be overshadowed by the specter of PED use.

1990 Upper Deck #72 Juan Gonzalez Rookie Card

1990 Upper Deck #17 Sammy Sosa Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $12

Another slugger who terrorized opposing pitchers during the 1990s and into the 2000s, Sammy Sosa also appeared in the "Star Rookie" subset.

The imagery of the card is fantastic as it features a great shot of a young Sosa with his signature smile dawning a retro White Sox uniform.

It's scary to think of the power numbers Sosa and Frank Thomas could have produced as a 1-2 punch had Sosa stayed on the south side of Chicago instead of moving north to join the Cubs.

Like Gonzalez, Sosa's legacy also hangs under a cloud as his association with PED use has also been well-documented.

1990 Upper Deck #17 Sammy Sosa Rookie Card

1990 Upper Deck #266 Cal Ripken

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $12

There's no question that Cal Ripken Jr. was one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game.

After spending his entire 21-year career with the Baltimore Orioles, Ripken would win Rookie of the Year honors, win two MVP awards, appear in 19 All-Star games, win 8 Silver Sluggers and 2 Gold Gloves.

Oh and don't forget he holds the streak for most consecutive games played at 2,632, a mark that will likely never be broken.

His career was nothing short of incredible and his popularity remains quite high among collectors.

1990 Upper Deck #266 Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Card

1990 Upper Deck #105 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $10

Another popular legend of the era, Bo Jackson will always be a favorite of any collector who grew up collecting in the late 80s and early 90s.

I always loved this card as it captured Jackson hustling to catch a fly ball as his hat is flying off his head.

But that's what Jackson was known for: making incredible defensive plays like this.

That, and smashing the ball on the offensive side of the game.

1990 Upper Deck #105 Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1990 Upper Deck #34 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $10

Last but not least on our list is a card which commemorated Nolan Ryan's incredible achievement of 5,000 career strikeouts when he fanned Rickey Henderson on August 22, 1989.

The artwork on the card is beautiful as it shows his transition from windup to delivery followed by a tip of the cap.

When you look back on Ryan's career and what he was able to do for so long, it's nothing short of jaw-dropping.

His legacy keeps pretty much all of his cards (especially in high grade) in demand from Ryan collectors throughout the hobby.

1990 Upper Deck #34 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1990 Upper Deck Baseball Cards In Review

Overall, the 1990 Upper Deck baseball card set is a pretty good one in terms of its collectibility compared to other sets of the era.

The errors/variations keep things interesting while there is some decent star power within the 800-card checklist.

What makes it most special, though, are those randomly-inserted Reggie Jackson autograph cards.

Few sets can claim that they've changed the hobby as significantly as this one...

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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