Football is barreling towards us, so it’s time to add some gridiron greats to this series, and we have a more-than-deserving candidate. But first, here’s a hint, or a question … or both: When it comes to sheer domination in the sport from the late eighties onward until his early, unexpected retirement, what shifty, nearly-impossible-to-bring-down halfback comes to mind? It rhymes with “Terry Flanders.”
Wow, you’re good! That’s right, Barry Sanders wrote the book on how to evade would-be tacklers, and oftentimes made poor defenders look silly in their empty-handed attempts.
Fortunately for collectors out there, Sanders cards, unlike the shifty back in the open field, are easy to get your hands on. Take a look at Sanders’ easily approachable three-card rookie set.
1989 Pro Set #494 Barry Sanders
- PSA Population: 8,282
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $28
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $9
As the lone action shot in the set, this card stands apart for obvious reasons: it shows the tremendous athleticism of the running back as he’s nimbly weaving between tackles and, presumably, evading them.
It’s the action-packed nature of the card, combined with Sanders in his college digs, that appeals to many collectors. Still, not even Sanders can always juke the centering issues and corner wear inherent in these cards.
1989 Topps Traded #83T Barry Sanders
- PSA Population: 18,548
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $27
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $8
Now, a transcendent player like Sanders probably spent little time on the bench. He probably didn’t even know such things existed on the sidelines. But, like a Sasquatch in the wild, Topps managed to capture a rare shot of Sanders taking five for their 1989 Topps Traded offering.
A more polarizing offering of the rookie set, collectors either love the clean layout of the card or lament the lackluster photo of a sedentary Sanders.
— Wally Anderson (@dakotatreasure) August 20, 2018
Love it or hate it, that hasn’t deterred many collectors from adding this card to their collection, as evidenced by the staggering 18,548 examples within the PSA population. And for around $30 for a PSA 10 example of a football legend, why not?
1989 Score #257 Barry Sanders
- PSA Population:18,388
- Average Cost for PSA Gem Mint 10: $197
- Average Cost for PSA Mint 9: $35
Of the three cards in the set, when you think of Barry Sanders rookie cards, which one do you immediately conjure images of? Odds are it’s this one. The Score offering, though released in droves, hasn’t detracted from its popularity. With its green, eye-popoing borders and depiction of a mildly amused Sanders – looking as if he’s pondering all the countless defenders he’s about to embarrass – this, it seems, is the Sanders card to own.
Some collectors tout the iconic nature of the card.
1989 Score is an iconic card and also the best design (In my opinion) of the bunch.
— Rich Klein (@sabrgeek) August 21, 2018
Some feel very strongly about Score’s supremacy over the other cards – like, very strongly.
That’s like asking someone, “Would like one million dollars or to be punched in the spleen?” Score, all day, every day.
— Tracy’s Box Breaks (@batcavelv) August 21, 2018
Though the green borders are notoriously apt to chipping, PSA 10s aren’t necessarily hard to come by; there are currently 1,535 in the PSA population. That’s good news for the prospective Sanders collector.
So here you have three easily attainable, affordable Barry Sanders cards to complete the set, and not just any set, a set featuring one of the most exciting running backs to ever cut and slash his way across the gridiron. Sanders emphatically placed himself among the greatest of the game, and for just about $52 in PSA 9 and around $252 in PSA 10 you can add this set to your collection. As far as starter sets go, you might want to give this one a try on the PSA Set Registry.