Rickey Henderson Baseball Cards

Rickey Henderson (born 1958) played baseball as a left fielder in MLB between 1979 and 2003. He played for nine teams, including four stints with the Oakland Athletics with whom he is most associated.

Henderson’s career stats are impressive: .279 batting average, 3,055 hits, 297 home runs, 1,115 runs batted in, 1,406 stolen bases, and 2,295 runs. His career stolen bases and runs are MLB records.

He was also a ten time All Star, the 1990 AL MVP, a Gold Glove Award winner in 1981, a three time Silver Slugger Award, and a twelve time AL stolen base leader.

In 2009 Henderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on 94.81% of the vote on the first ballot. Additionally, the Oakland Athletics retired his no. 24 jersey and inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

Henderson was born in Chicago, Illinois, and his family moved to Oakland, California seven years later. He was raised by his mother after his father left when he was two.

Growing up playing baseball, Henderson was naturally a lefty, but he batted right. Henderson said, “All my friends were right-handed and swung from the right side, so I thought that’s the way it was supposed to be done.” Of the 20,000 or so players to have played in MLB, only 57 position players batted right and threw left.

Henderson was a standout in football, basketball, and baseball. As an All American football player with multiple 1,000 yard rushing seasons, Henderson had dozens of football scholarship offers, but he turned them down because his mother said that baseball was a better career.

The Oakland A’s drafted Henderson in the fourth round of the 1976 draft. Henderson moved solidly and swiftly through the minor league system, and he debuted with the Athletics on June 24, 1979.

After a good start in 1979 with a .274 batting average in 89 games, Henderson was already competing for the MVP award in 1981. He began to lead the league in multiple categories, namely hits, runs, and steals, and he finished second that year in MVP voting to Rollie Fingers.

In 1982, Henderson had 130 stolen bases, which broke the record and has not been approached. For reference on Henderson’s ability to steal, he had 84 stolen bases before the All Star break in 1982. No player has had 84 stolen bases for the entire season since then, except for one time. That one time was in 1988 when Rickey Henderson himself stole 93. There are too many of such anecdotes to relay in this article regarding Henderson.

Henderson was traded to the Yankees, where he struggled under intense fan, ownership, and media scrutiny. Still, he set the franchise record for stolen bases in four and a half seasons, which was later broken by Derek Jeter, who had 1700 more games to break the record.

Although he performed acceptably with the Yankees, Henderson was traded back to Oakland, where he quickly resumed his position as one of the best players in the league.

Henderson would continue to break stolen base records, get on base, score runs, and bat over .300 several times. In his later career he moved around through many teams from the mid 1990s to 2003.

He eventually developed a reputation for staying in the game too long. By 2004, Major League teams would no longer sign him. So, he played baseball with minor league teams for two years, and he publicly stated his desire to get back into MLB.

Even though he had been cut from MLB in 2003, out of minor league baseball since 2006, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009, and he was 53 years old, Henderson said in 2011, “Sometimes when I sit around and look at the game and things ain’t going right, I just think, ‘Just let me put on the uniform and go out there and take a chance.’”

There is something commendable and nostalgic to that level of passion. Henderson has tried to stay close to the game, which included impressionable base stealing coaching. Below are a few of the quality cards of Rickey Henderson which try to capture his guts, skill, and bravosity.

1980 Topps Rickey Henderson Rookie Card

The 1980 Topps had 726 cards of standard size (2 ½” x 3 ½”), and Henderson’s card sits at #482. Henderson is the crucial key to this set, and he is by far the most expensive.

This card is decently well preserved. For reference, PSA has over 109,000 cards from this set registered, and 21,000 of those cards are Henderson rookies.

Henderson’s rookie card is traded frequently, and it should not be hard to find a quality card.

Gem Mint cards are extremely expensive. Since 2016, they sold for around $20,000 to $30,000, but price spiked during the Covid-19 pandemic. In February of 2021, a copy sold for $180,100, and another sold for $168,000.

Mint copies sold for around $500 for years, but they spiked to $6,000 in February of 2021.

With a budget of $1,000, a collector would need to go to PSA 8’s which have sold for around $400.

1981 Topps Rickey Henderson

Henderson is at card #261 in the 1981 Topps which has 726 cards. Major rookie cards on the set include Kirk Gibson and Harold Baines.

PSA has 86,000 cards from this set registered, and over 2,500 of them are Henderson cards.

Gem Mint copies of this card have increased in price over the last few years. They were selling for a few hundred as recently as 2019, but since then they have passed $1,000 several times. Mint copies should still only cost you a few hundred.

1991 Topps Desert Shield Rickey Henderson

Henderson sits at cards #391 #670 in this 792 card set of standard measurements. Prices briefly jump up for cards during this era of overproduction in the 1990s because this set was distributed to the military during Operation Desert Shield.

Card #391 has over 160 cards registered with PSA. In Gem Mint condition, cards reach $300.

Card #670 has over 260 copies registered with PSA. In Gem Mint condition, cards have sold for about $300, but there is an $850 outlier sale in February of 2021.

1993 Topps Finest Refractors Rickey Henderson

This is the last valuable Henderson card worth discussing. He sits at card #86 in this 199 card set. The 1993 Topps Finest broke ground with the use of chromium.

Thus, even though it is 1993 and late in Henderson’s career, this groundbreaking refractor card sold for $4,195 in January of 2021. Without the refractor, this card sells for about $100 in Gem Mint condition.

PSA has about 100 copies registered of the refractor and base card each.


Sportswriter Tom Verducci wrote in 2003, “There are certain figures in American history who have passed into the realm of cultural mythology, as if reality could no longer contain their stories: Johnny Appleseed. Wild Bill Hickok. Davy Crockett. Rickey Henderson. They exist on the sometimes narrow margin between Fact and Fiction.”

The legacy of Henderson is undecided. Some criticize him as arrogant for declaring his greatness in the third person. Others declare him a deserving legend, one of several unbreakable ghosts that haunt the rich history of baseball.

His cards offer compromise and help to offer a representation of Rickey Henderson as a ball player, cultural figure, and legend.