The Debate of Having Athletes Sign Their Rookie Cards

Do You Consider Having Cards Autographed Taboo?
  • October 26, 2021

In your opinion -  is it wrong to have an athlete sign their rookie card?  In the hobby, many collectors actually frown upon having a player autograph a rookie card.  Let's take a look at both sides of the coin - reasons FOR and reasons AGAINST having a rookie card autographed.  We'll also show you a few cards from our own personal collections! 

Have you ever had your favorite player sign their rookie card?  Believe it or not, that action is often debated as being right or wrong heavily in our hobby!  Many collectors in the sports card world believe we should not have rookie cards autographed.  There are actually great reasons both FOR and AGAINST having a card signed.  Take look and then decide - is it taboo to have a player sign a rookie card?


1. You're defacing the card

If you owned a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card, would you draw a mustache on the Mick?  Probably not; you know that doing so would actually lower the value of the card.  So if Mickey Mantle decided to write his name on the card, technically there is no difference between his name and your mustache.  PSA's own grading standards determines such a cards to be considered "Marked" -  "Any and all cards with writing..."

2. You're removing a card from the population

Some cards are quite rare such as the famous T206 Honus Wagner. If you have a card where fewer than 100 copies are known to exist, by having one autographed for your personal collection the hobby then has one fewer in original condition.  Taking a vintage card out of the equation - what if you owned the Zion Williamson Flawless logoman card, the only one known, and had Zion sign it?  That card is now off the table for anyone in the future that may want that card in the original state.  A collector may need that one card, unsigned, to complete their collection.



1. The value increases

Despite the "Marked" distinction we mentioned above, PSA will grade a baseball card that is signed, and it is possible to receive a Gem Mint 10 grade on the card itself, even thought it has been signed.  The company will grade both the autograph and the card in their dual grading service you can learn about here. A 1993 Topps Derek Jeter rookie in a grade of PSA 8 is valued around $30.  A signed 1993 Topps Jeter rookie with a grade of PSA 8 sold for $999. Reggie Jackson signs more frequently so the value of a signed card closer to the value of an unsigned card but the value still increases. Reggie's 1969 Topps card in a PSA 4 is valued around $250, but a PSA 4 autographed Mr. October is currently around $330. The PSA Pop report lists 328 signed Reggie rookies being graded compared to 8,285 non-auto cards. The hobby is shifting to see signed rookie card values go UP.

2. It's your card

Imagine if you purchased a car and other car owners told you that you could never paint your ride.  You bought a new Honda and a Chevy owner said "your car has to stay red; you can't paint it blue."  You paid good money for that rookie card of your favorite athlete - why should you not get it signed?  If you want to get your rookie card, it's yours to do so.


There is no right or wrong answer.  While it has long been considered taboo to get a rookie card signed, in the end - it's your card and your decision. We'd personally love an unsigned 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card.  We'd also love a signed 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle!  PSA has graded just 12 signed '52 Mantle cards.  If you have either an unsigned or an autographed copy, we'd love to hear from you!  Just Collect is ALWAYS buying! We recently purchased a collection of cards that included a 1952 Topps Mantle rookie card that was stored with jars of pickles.  Yes, pickles!  You can read about that cool story here.

Fun extra: While not his rookie card, Only 20 1933 Goudey are authenticated by PSA.  One man named Uncle Jimmy owned SIX of these 20!  You can read about Jimmy's amazing collection here

What do YOU prefer?  Get the rookie card signed or leave as-is?

Here are a few signed rookie cards from our favorite players - just sharing for fun! Nothing for us to retire on, but just a few cards in the PC.  Each rookie card below was signed in-person. A 1984 Topps Don Mattingly, 1989 Topps Barry Sanders, 2004 Fleer Tradition Eli Manning, and 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson.




Just Collect is always buying vintage sports and non-sports cards from 1879 to 1979 as well as select modern cards. If you have a collection that you are considering selling, contact us today to discuss or get our industry-leading purchase offer. If you have a collection that you want appraised, please contact us and we would be happy to discuss your collection and help you understand the real cash value of your collection in the current marketplace. Check out the Just Collect buy list blog here


We've run into a wide range of people and collections over the last 25 years. Although Just Collect is known for buying vintage sports cards and especially vintage baseball cards, we are also extremely interested in buying non-sports cards, too!  

Every collection and every collector is different and we treat EVERY collection with the respect and attention that we show for our own collections. We understand that many have put their heart and souls into building their collections. So when you're ready to sell, we understand the feelings that you're going through and will work with you to help you reach a decision that is a WIN/WIN, because if you're not happy, we're not happy.


Whether you have vintage cards or modern wax you want to sell, you can reach out to us any time! 


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