Time for a second baseman to enter the Set Registry 101 realm, and Cubs fans might argue he’s the second baseman. Ryne “Ryno” Sandberg was a stud with the glove, on the basepaths and with a bat. More importantly, the man is a Chicago legend.
Like fellow Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who entered the league the same year, Sandberg’s popularity and on-field prowess seems to negate the overproduced nature of many cards during the ‘80s, making the rookie cards of both legends still very collectible. (But not the sort of collectible that comes with a premium price tag that might dissuade those new to the hobby.)
Ryno’s four-card set is readily available and very affordable in high grade, as you’ll see on our little tour below.
1983 Donruss #277 Ryne Sandberg
- PSA Population: 1,444 PSA Mint 9 | 256 PSA Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $167
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $16
Tough to uncover in PSA 10 due to centering, Ryno’s Donruss rookie issue bats leadoff for the set. This card is interesting because, though it’s not the most popular Sandberg rookie, it’s among the scarcest. Around double the amount of PSA 10s exist in his Fleer and Topps — his most popular rookie — than the Donruss.
Speaking of Fleer …
1983 Fleer #507 Ryne Sandberg
- PSA Population: 1,587 PSA Mint 9 | 535 PSA Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $64
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $14
As mentioned earlier, the Fleer issue is easier to obtain in PSA 10 compared to the Dornuss rookie, but it remains a popular issue from Sandberg’s rookie year. This is the only card in the set to feature Sandberg’s fluid follow-through in the batter’s box. But it’s definitely not his most rare card, not by a long shot …
1983 O-Pee-Chee #83 Ryne Sandberg
- PSA Population: 128 PSA Mint 9 | 20 PSA Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $1,999
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $78
With, no joke, a fraction of PSA 10s compared to any Ryno rookie in the set, his O-Pee-Chee issue stands alone in terms of rarity. Like all O-Pee-Chee cards, this example features the exact same image of the athlete as its Topps counterpart, except his position is noted in both English and French, and the text on the back is in both languages, as well. This card is commonly found miscut.
If you were wondering where the bulk of Sandberg submissions go, look no further than the final card in the set, the one his O-Pee-Chee was fashioned after …
1983 Topps #83 Ryne Sandberg
- PSA Population: 4,026 PSA Mint 9 | 550 PSA Gem Mint 10
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $339
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $30
When you think of Ryno’s rookie card, this one probably comes to mind. With over 11,000 in the PSA population — over three times the amount of his rookie Fleer submissions, which has the next largest PSA Population of the set — the popularity of this card is evident. Despite its popularity, however, it remains a tough grade; of over 11,000 submissions, only 550 have earned PSA Gem Mint 10. It might be the centering issues that tend to impact cards from this set, or the somewhat-softer cardboard 1983 Topps was printed on, which makes the cards susceptible to creases and bends.
But back to this rookie set. Ryno sits among legends in Chicago sports, he’s a Hall-of-Famer and among the best second baseman of all-time. But somehow you can secure his rookie set in PSA 9 for a mere $138. Now, it gets a little steeper in PSA 10 at around $2,568, but that’s because of all of those reasons I just mentioned. Cubbies fans and collectors in general might want to look into assembling his four-card rookie set.