However, it was not smooth sailing at first as Mariano posted a pathetic 5.51 ERA as a rookie in 1995. But Mariano found his home in the fall of 2005 when he started pitching relief for the Yankees in the playoffs… and that’s where he stayed for the next 18 years.
Related: Best Derek Jeter Rookie Cards
The following season (1996) he posted a jaw-dropping 2.09 ERA, with 5 saves, and 130 strikeouts finishing 3rd in American League rookie of the year voting. He ended up saving a total of 652 games, with 1173 strikeouts, and a filthy career ERA of 2.21.
After seeing those stats it is no wonder he was the first MLB player to be elected by a unanimous vote (not even the legendary Derek Jeter could accomplish this feat). After making the Baseball HoF, his rookie cards’ value exploded and are still rising today.
Best Mariano Rivera Baseball/Rookie Cards
Here are the top-rated Mariano Rivera baseball cards we would purchase from an ROI perspective.
1992 Mariano Rivera Bowman RC #302
Here is the cream of the crop when it comes to Mariano Rivera baseball cards. Numbered #302 the card shows babyface Mariano in street clothes after inking a $2,000 contract with the New York Yankees.
“In our opinion, the 1992 Bowman Mariano Rivera RC is by FAR the top Rivera baseball card and is the only one worth owning.”
His name is placed in the bottom right corner while the Bowman B Logo sits in the upper left. The card graphics are not the best but the photo of Mariano itself is epic… one could easily mistake Rivera for an accountant, banker, or maybe even a weekend tennis player but by no means a future HoF baseball player… we love, LOVE this card for long term investors.
1990 Mariano Rivera Diamond Cards RC #17
If you are determined to own more than one Mariano Rivera baseball card the 1990 Diamond Cuts card is a good option. Numbered #17 the card shows Mariano with the Tampa Yankees looking somewhat dazed and confused?
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His name and position are squished together in the bottom right corner while the year is printed in the top left corner (border in a zebra stripe graphic).
1996 Mariano Rivera Leaf Signature Silver Auto
Here is a Mariano Rivera Autograph card for all your auto hounds out there (i.e. Brandon O… you know who you are). The card is a no number and pictures, Mariano on the mound looking for the right sign.
His printed name is center along the top while the auto sits at the bottom. The words “New York Yankees” in all caps are centered at the bottom… a pretty nice-looking card and a must for Rivera autograph seekers.
Mariano Rivera Rookie Card Checklist (Top-Rated)
- 1990 Diamond Cards RC #17
- 1992 Fleer Procards Ft. Lauderdale Yankees Mariano Rivera RC
- 1992 Bowman RC #302
- 1996 Leaf Signature Silver Auto
- 1996 Score #225
- 1998 Fleer Ultra #147
- 2004 Topps Cracker Jack Mariano Rivera Baseball Card #235
- 2004 Diamond Kings #70
- 2013 Panini Prizm Mariano Rivera Auto #MR
- 2014 Finest Greats X-Fractors Mariano Rivera Auto Baseball Card #FGAMR
Mariano Rivera Baseball Card Value
The most expensive Mariano Rivera rookie cards are the 1992 Bowman RC #302 and 1990 Diamond Cards Tampa Yankees Mariano Rivera RC #17.
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Mariano Rivera Baseball Rookie Card: Buyers Rating and Investment Advice
Mariano Rivera was not only the best relief pitcher in the game by miles but he was also the first player unanimously elected into the Hall of Fame… yea this guy had a hell of a career.
Investment Rating: Buy (4.5 out of 5)
Ownership Disclosure: None
Best Mariano Rivera Rookie Card: 1992 Mariano Rovera Bowman RC
For a while, his rookie card’s value was a complete joke (in terms of being undervalued by so much). The market has made a much-needed correction, but the 1992 Bowman Mariano Rovdera RC should be much higher based on his dominance.
We have no problem with you loading up on this guy even if you don’t buy his best card in the 1992 Bowman RC.