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A Closer Look at 3 Don Mattingly Rookie Cards

Before transitioning to coaching, Don Mattingly had an excellent playing career for the New York Yankees between 1982 and 1995. He has more recently been the manager of the Los Angles Dodgers and Miami Marlins. He finished his playing career with a .307 batting average, winning the AL MVP award in 1985, being named to 6 All-Star teams, and winning 9 Gold Glove awards. But his legacy in the hobby is maybe even more significant. His rookie cards were some of the hottest cards during the mid to late 1980s and brought many people into card collecting, so I thought I would take a closer look at his three base rookie cards (Donruss, Fleer, and Topps).

1984 Donruss #248 Don Mattingly 

1984 Donruss #248 Don Mattingly

The 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly Rookie card played a massive role in building the hobby craze of the late 1980s. It’s still an iconic card even though it’s not particularly hard to find, though collectors believe Donruss had the smallest print run of the three major brands. The most significant condition issue affecting this card is centering.

Recent Sales (Population):

PSA 10: ~$2700 (296)

PSA 9: ~$225 (2741)

PSA 8: ~$65 (4181)

If you are looking to rip a Mattingly rookie from an unopened product, 1984 Donruss cards came in 36 pack boxes, and the packs had 15 cards plus a puzzle piece (no gum to ruin cards). It’s a challenging proposition though, authenticated 1984 Donruss BBCE boxes go for around $900 these days. Rack packs and factory sets are also available.

1984 Fleer #131 Don Mattingly 

1984 Fleer #131 Don Mattingly

The 1984 Fleer Mattingly rookie is the least popular of the three, which correlates to their lower sales prices. However, I like the fielding image used on the front of the card quite a bit. Centering can be an issue, but not as grossly as in the Donruss set, meaning there are more PSA 10 Fleer rookies than Donruss rookies.

Recent Sales (Population):

PSA 10: ~$720 (409)

PSA 9: ~$65 (1956)

PSA 8: ~$35 (1628)

Fleer had a more diverse distribution than Donruss, so there are quite a few ways to pull a Mattingly rookie card on your own. There are wax packs, cello packs, rack packs, and vending boxes.

1984 Topps #8 Don Mattingly

1984 Topps #8 Don Mattingly

While many consider the Donruss to be Mattingly’s most desirable rookie card, the Topps card is a very close second, mainly because of the pedigree and history of the Topps brand in the hobby. However, Topps had the largest print run and the best quality control, so there are a lot of high-end graded Topps Don Mattingly rookie cards.

Recent Sales (Population):

PSA 10: ~$900 (872)

PSA 9: ~$80 (5309)

PSA 8: ~$28 (5502)

Like Fleer, Topps had a wide range of products from which collectors could rip Mattingly rookie cards, including wax packs, cello packs, rack packs, sugarless racks, vending boxes, and factory sets.

While the base Don Mattingly rookie cards are his most popular, there are a few more that collectors might also want to consider to include: Fun Food Pins, Nestle, OPC, OPC Stickers, Topps Stickers, and Topps Tiffany. And if you’re a big Don Mattingly fan, there are, of course, his minor league cards too.

Any of the three base Don Mattingly rookie cards make an excellent addition to a baseball card collection. But, which is your favorite? Let me know down in the comments, and happy collecting!

PS if you like this sort of article, check out my overview of Cal Ripken Jr’s rookie cards.

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