12 Most Valuable 1991 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Cards

Most Valuable 1991 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Cards

When 1991 Topps Stadium Club baseball cards first hit the market, it was clear what Topps was attempting to do:

offer a premium set to compete with Upper Deck.

Remember...when Upper Deck released their debut set in 1989, they changed the hobby forever and forced Topps and other manufacturers to up their game.

And Topps answered the challenge a couple of years later with their own premium offering: the "Stadium Club" line.

By partnering with Kodak, Topps delivered beautiful full-color, borderless cards that featured high-quality images.

At 600 cards total, the Stadium Club checklist was much smaller than the regular 1991 Topps baseball card set but packed a much better design.

And in this guide, we'll take a look at the 15 most valuable.

Let's jump right in!

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Let's be clear: most of the cards from this set do not have any value these days.

Like the 1991 Donruss, Fleer, Topps, and Upper Deck sets, large print runs saturated the market with these cards, driving down their values.

So, for the cards on this list to be worth much, they'll have to be graded by PSA to be in perfect, gem mint condition.

That means the card needs to be flawless.

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

1991 Stadium Club #270 Ken Griffey Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $250

Upper Deck could not have chosen a better player than Ken Griffey Jr. to lead off the checklist as card #1 of their debut set in 1989.

Though the Kid would finish third in voting for the 1989 AL Rookie of the Year Award behind Baltimore's Gregg Olson and Kansas City's Tom Gordon, he clearly showed the most long-term upside of any player in that season's rookie class.

Griffey eventually turned into the Hall of Famer everyone thought he would be and his 1989 Upper Deck rookie card has since solidified itself as one of the most iconic cards in the hobby.

Heading into the 1991 season, Griffey had already notched his first All-Star selection and Gold Glove, and by season's end, he'd add one more of each as well as his first Silver Slugger.

After batting .327 with 100 RBI, 20 home runs, and 76 runs scored to go along with a .527 slugging percentage and .926 OPS during the 1991 season, there was no question that Griffey was well on his way to superstardom.

The hobby loved Griffey during the 1990s and it still loves him today, so there's no surprise that his card leads off this list at the top.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #270 Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #57 Frank Thomas

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $200

During his sophomore season in the big leagues, 23-year-old Frank Thomas broke out in a monster way on the Southside of Chicago.

In his first full season, Thomas batted .318, belted 32 home runs, drove in 109 runs, and scored 104 runs in a body of work that eventually earned him his first Silver Slugger and a third-place vote in the AL MVP race.

Even more impressive was the fact that he led all of MLB in walks (138), OBP (.453), OPS (1.006), and OPS + (180).

Incredibly, his play during the first half of the season was far better than the second:

  • 1st Half: G (81) AB (267) BA (.371) HR (24) RBI (61) R (65) OBP (.509) SLG (.708) OPS (1.217)
  • 2nd Half: G (77) AB (292) BA (.271) HR (8) RBI (48) R (39) OBP (.399) SLG (.411) OPS (.810)

As you can see, his production during the second half "tanked" compared to the first half.

The fact that he didn't appear in the 1991 Midsummer Classic has to be one of, if not the biggest, All-Star Game snub in the game's history.

Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the last time he was snubbed, either, as his five All-Star appearances are far lower than they should have been.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #57 Frank Thomas Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #200 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $150

Nolan Ryan broke out the tuxedo to pose for this card and that fashion statement helped it quickly become one of the most popular cards in the hobby that year.

But, Ryan wasn't the only one to dress up so nicely as Dave Stewart put on a tuxedo for his card as well.

Ultimately, Topps slotted Dave Stewart in as card #1 in the set, but I have to believe there is a story behind why they were the only two players who posed in tuxedos.

It makes sense that Topps would feature the first player in this set in a tuxedo as a clever way of helping to market their first premium set in a higher standard.

But why was Nolan Ryan also wearing a tux at card #200 in the checklist?

Was he originally slated to be the first card in the set but Topps decided to go with Dave Stewart at some point instead?

Who knows?

What we do know is that Ryan accomplished the unthinkable during the 1991 season as he became the oldest player in MLB history to throw a no-hitter when he roasted the Toronto Blue Jays on May 1, 1991, at the age of 44.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #200 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #224 Bo Jackson

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $60

Like Griffey, Bo Jackson has seen his status in this hobby continue to rise in recent years as collectors who were kids during this era are now adults full of nostalgia scooping up cards of their former heroes.

Sadly, 1991 was the year that Jackson's professional sports career completely derailed after injuring his hip during a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January that year.

Jackson never played football again.

And he never suited up for the Kansas City Royals again, either, as the team soon decided to release him before the 1991 MLB season.

Fortunately, the Chicago White Sox quickly gave him a shot and signed him to a three-year deal.

He'd appear in just 23 games for the White Sox in 1991 before missing the entire 1992 season due to hip replacement surgery.

By 1993, Jackson was back on the baseball field and made a decent comeback to appear in 85 games for Chicago while helping them to the playoffs.

The story of Jackson's professional sports career finally came to a close after the strike during the 1994 season cut his time with the California Angels short and caused him to retire for good.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #224 Bo Jackson Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #120 Rickey Henderson

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

Rickey Henderson headed into the 1991 season looking to somehow keep the momentum going from the career year he had the year before.

During his 1990 campaign, Henderson led all of MLB with a .439 OBP, 1.016 OPS, 189 OPS+ and 119 runs scored.

He also hit a personal best 33 doubles, tied a personal best with 28 home runs, turned in his second-highest batting average (.325), and led the American League in stolen bases (65).

Though most of Henderson's production fell off in 1991, as expected, he still led the AL in stolen bases with 58 and earned his tenth and final trip to the All-Star Game.

Henderson's legacy as a Hall of Famer, the game's greatest lead-off hitter, and the all-time leader in runs scored and stolen bases make this card roughly a $50 purchase in a PSA 10 holder.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #120 Rickey Henderson Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #308 Tony Gwynn

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

While most guys would be thrilled with a .317 batting average during an entire MLB season, that kind of performance from Tony Gwynn in 1991 was a bit of a letdown.

Incredibly, that was one of his lowest batting averages of his Hall of Fame career.

But, for a guy with a .338 career batting average and eight batting titles to his name, he and the rest of baseball had been used to a much higher standard of batting wizardry.

Despite the "down" year, Gwynn still performed well enough to make his seventh All-Star Game and kept things going on the defensive end to earn his fifth Gold Glove.

Amazingly, during his twenty years in Major League Baseball with the San Diego Padres, Gwynn hit below .300 just once.

During his debut season in 1982, Gwynn barely missed the .300 mark by batting .289 in 190 at-bats over the 54 games he played that year.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #308 Tony Gwynn Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #388 Jeff Bagwell Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

Nothing against the Boston Red Sox, but despite being one of baseball's most storied franchises, they're also known for a couple of bonehead deals.

But they weren't just any regular bonehead deals, they were two of the worst in MLB history.

On January 5, 2020, the Boston Red Sox dealt Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for cash and we all know how that turned out.

And, just over seventy years later, they came close to pulling off an even worse move when they traded Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for reliever Larry Andersen.

Bagwell was in the Minors at the time and showing decent promise, but the Red Sox were in win-now mode and trying to hold off the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East race, so management green-lighted the trade.

The Red Sox won the AL East but were destroyed by the Oakland A's in the ALCS and Andersen never pitched for Boston again.

On the other hand, Bagwell began his career with the Astros the following season in 1991 by capturing the NL Rookie of the Year Award.

And, by the time his fifteen years with Houston were up, he'd smashed 449 home runs, appeared in four All-Star Games, won an MVP, collected three Silver Sluggers and one Gold Glove to tie the knot on his Hall of Fame career.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #388 Jeff Bagwell Rookie Card

1991 Stadium Club #430 Cal Ripken Jr.

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $50

Some of the game's greats had more than one season that could be considered the greatest of their careers.

For Cal Ripken Jr., though, there is no question: the 1991 season was his career year.

Aside from batting .325, well above his career average of .276, Ripken also set career highs in home runs (34), RBI (114), OBP (.374), slugging percentage (.566), OPS (.940), OPS+ (162), and total bases (368).

His 368 total bases were actually tops in MLB that year.

Ripken was simply on fire during the 1991 season and there was nothing that he couldn't do.

By season's end, he added his ninth-straight All-Star appearance, second MVP Award, his sixth Silver Slugger, and his first Gold Glove.

Only his other MVP-winning campaign in 1983 comes close to matching what he did in 1991.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #430 Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #21 Don Mattingly

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Don Mattingly was one of the most feared hitters during the 1980s, capable of hitting for both average and power.

By the time the 1980s came to a close, Donnie Baseball had an MVP, batting title, six All-Star selections, three Silver Sluggers and five Gold Gloves to his name.

If you would've asked anyone at the time if he was on his way to an eventual induction into Cooperstown, they may have looked at you in disbelief, unsure if you were joking.

Unfortunately, like a switch zapping the lights in a room, back injuries zapped Mattingly's power in 1990 and forced him to miss a large chunk of the season.

To put things into perspective, Mattingly led the Majors in 1986 with a .573 slugging percentage and .967 OPS.

In 1990, those numbers fell to .335 and .643, respectively.

By 1991, Mattingly boosted his slugging percentage to .394 and in the following seasons above .400, although barely.

The power with the bat was gone but he still had his glove, though, and in 1991 he would earn his sixth of nine career Gold Gloves.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #21 Don Mattingly Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #220 Barry Bonds

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

This has to be one of the strangest choices of images for any Barry Bonds card in hobby history.

The guy had just broken out, to say the least, the season before when he appeared in his first All-Star Game while winning his first MVP, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards.

Given the amount of excitement Bonds was clearly bringing to the game, why did Topps choose to showcase such an explosive player in this manner?

Especially, given that this was supposed to be their first premium product, it is just odd that they featured Bonds in such a boring image.

Anyways, we all know that Barry Bonds was anything but boring, and the 1991 season saw him add a second Silver Slugger and Gold Glove to his resume while finishing just short of a second MVP to Atlanta's Terry Pendleton.

There was no need for Bonds to panic, however, since he'd add six more MVPs and multiple top-five voting finishes before his storied career came to a close in 2007.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #220 Barry Bonds Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #399 Mark McGwire

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

Topps may have missed an opportunity to create a more exciting Barry Bonds card, but they definitely didn't miss with Mark McGwire's card.

The image on this card perfectly exemplifies why baseball nicknamed him one of the "Bash Brothers" as it portrays him getting ready to do exactly that: bash the cover off the ball.

Though McGwire had built a reputation as a power hitter capable of sending the ball to the moon heading into the 1991 season, he did not live up to it that year.

At the time, the slugger was dealing with issues off the field that McGwire would later say affected his performance on the field.

And, the numbers indeed show it as his slugging percentage and OPS plummeted to .383 and .714, respectively.

His batting average also nosedived to .201 and Tony La Russa, the Oakland A's manager at the time, even decided to bench McGwire for the final game of the season just to avoid his average potentially slipping below .200.

Thankfully, McGwire took the offseason to work out all of the kinks and would be back on track for the 1992 season.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #399 Mark McGwire Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club #442 Deion Sanders

Estimated PSA 10 Gem Mint Value: $40

After two years of balancing his efforts as a two-sport athlete for the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Falcons, the Yankees finally decided to part ways with Sanders in September 1990.

However, the Atlanta Braves were willing to try and make things work and signed him ahead of the 1991 MLB season.

Things were a bit more manageable for Sanders since he was at least playing for two teams in the same city, but the two-sport conflict reared its ugly head right when the Braves needed him the most.

Because of his NFL contract, Sanders missed all of the Braves' games in August and most of September and couldn't play for them during their playoff run that year.

Sanders made sure to rework his contract in the offseason to be available for MLB playoff games in the future and the move certainly paid off in a big way for the Braves.

Despite losing to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1992 World Series, Sanders played lights out and nearly helped them to a title before rejoining the Falcons to finish off the NFL season.

1991 Topps Stadium Club #442 Deion Sanders Baseball Card

1991 Stadium Club Baseball Cards In Review

Issued in two 300-card series, the set featured a 600-card checklist that showcased many of MLB's brightest stars and talent in the highest quality manner to date.

By utilizing Kodak technology, Topps delivered an incredible product that firmly put them as a serious competitor in the premium segment of the hobby.

The photography and premium look and feel of the cards have held up quite well to this day.

Unopened Box of 1991 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Cards

As far as rookie cards go, Jeff Bagwell is still the only key rookie in the checklist.

Would the set have held up better if other major rookie cards materialized over time?

Yes.

However, the 1991 Stadium Club set will always be remembered as a game-changer for Topps with its unique place in hobby history.

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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