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Bo Jackson is one of the most unique sportsmen in American history. He was a multi-sport athlete, competing in both NFL and the MLB. He’s remembered to be one of the most talented sportsmen of his generation, although his career was largely marred by injuries and mishaps.
That’s why Bo Jackson rookie cards and memorabilia are still highly desirable among collectors. You’ll be able to find many different types of cards for this player, both from the MLB and the NFL perspective.
So if you like baseball cards, football cards, or both – there’s something for you to love when it comes to Bo Jackson rookie cards and other memorabilia.
Bo Jackson Football Rookie Card
Since Bo Jackson was present in both football and baseball, we’ll take a look at his rookie cards in both sports separately.
Jackson started his sporting career as a baseball player, and he’s always had one eye on baseball. But he was a helluva talented football player, and he was initially drafted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986, although he turned down their contract and waited for the 1987 draft.
That’s when he was officially picked by the LA Raiders, and also when his NFL career officially started.
1988 Topps Bo Jackson RC #327
The 1988 Topps Bo Jackson rookie card is the only available rookie card of this player when it comes to football cards. This card is still widely available today, even though it’s his only card in the NFL.
Jackson spent three years with the Raiders from 1987 to 1990. In his time, he was seen as one of the best prospects, although it was always clear that he was not fully committed to football, and that he had his eye on his baseball career instead.
The move to the Raiders was supported by the owner of the team Al Davis, who liked the idea of Jackson playing football and baseball at the same time, although many people had doubts about his ability to do that. In his contract, he had a clause that permitted him to play baseball with the Royals and report back to the Raiders once the MLB season was finished.
This meant that Jackson would miss out on some games in the NFL. Despite all that, Jackson was one of the highest earners in the league. As a football player, Jackson was famous for his unstoppable runs and his speed, as well as his ability to win his team the so important yards.
His career in the NFL came to an abrupt end in 1991 when he dislocated his hip, meaning he would be unable to continue.
This card celebrates his NFL career and what Bo stood for. He was seen as one of the greatest ever athletes to play the game. On the card itself, you’ll find Bo Jackson in a non-playing pose, probably waiting for his turn to make some runs.
Bo Jackson Baseball Rookie Cards
Jackson’s primary “love” was always baseball, although he was highly coveted in the NFL for his athletic abilities. He was an MLB player from 1986 to 1994 with some interrupted periods in between.
Most of his baseball rookie cards will be from 1986, although there are some great cards from his college days, too (which we’ll take a look at later on).
1986 Donruss The Rookies Bo Jackson RC #38
Bo Jackson started his MLB career with the Royals. He was drafted the same year into the NFL by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, although he has made his promise to the Royals to sign with them and continue his MLB career.
This card just screams the 80s. It has a typical design for that era, with the slightly diagonal image and the striped, blue and black background. And even though this is his officially recognized rookie card, it’s not among the most expensive cards of this player. That’s because it’s so widely available.
Bo Jackson started his career in the MLB modestly, although he started to establish himself as one of the best players in the league later on. His career finally escalated in 1989 when he was in the American All-Star team.
This card is perhaps the first one you’ll think about when it comes to Bo Jackson rookie cards. The good news is that it’s widely available and much cheaper than you might think. You’ll probably struggle to find a PSA 10, but even PSA 9 cards tend to be in good condition and are generally not very expensive.
1986 Donruss Highlights Bo Jackson RC
The second official Bo Jackson rookie card also comes in a Donruss set. This time, it’s from the Highlights set, which contained cards of players that did something amazing during the season, such as reaching a milestone or winning awards for doing some of the best things in the league.
On this card, Jackson is recognized for the longest HR in Royals stadium. It’s a 56-card set that also featured many other players and their achievements, although Bo Jackson was one of the more popular cards from this set.
It’s interesting to see that the set still contains much of what the original Donruss card has to offer. The main difference is the colors, which are reverted to yellow and black here on the background. There’s also a yellow sign that says Highlights on the card itself.
This card is a bit rarer and perhaps a bit more “premium” than the official rookie card. But it’s still not as expensive than you might think, because this card was still widely available on the market back in the 1980s and the 1990s, and it still is today. You might be lucky enough to get this one for a reasonable or even small price.
1986 Topps Traded Bo Jackson RC #50T
Another Bo Jackson rookie card that you can consider is the 1986 Topps Traded card. This card, especially the base card, is widely available and for relatively cheap prices. So if you’re looking for a great entry point for Bo Jackson rookie cards, then this might be the best opportunity to do that.
On the card, you’ll find an image that’s strikingly similar to the image on the Donruss rookie card. The design of the card leaves a lot to be desired, though. It has a white and black border with a big “Royals” signature at the top of the card, and the player’s name on the bottom of the card.
It’s a bit basic, but that’s what you’re getting with the Topps Traded cards from 1986. Some people will like this basic and simplistic type of design, while others might not like it at all. Still, if you’re a Bo Jackson fan, then this is a must-have card for you.
There’s also the Tiffany parallel that you can take a look at. It was essentially almost the same card, only that it was a limited variation of the card with a print run of 5000 cards. This was not a lot for that time, so it tended to be a bit more expensive than the base card.
Today though, this card is not as expensive as it was back then and it’s also widely available on many marketplaces. But if you want this card in its highest quality, be prepared to have to spend up to several thousand dollars.
1986 Sportflics Rookies Bo Jackson RC #40
This card is perhaps one of the most ambiguous cards when it comes to Bo Jackson cards. Some loved it, while others outright hated it. It utilized the latest 3D printing technologies, which for that time, was something of an innovation.
This printing technology is called lenticular printing, and the card will show different images, depending on the angle you look at it from. When you rotate the card, there will be three different images visible: one of Jackson’s face, and two other images where Bo Jackson is in action.
Perhaps this card tends to get (unfairly) overlooked by other more convenient rookie cards. But the fact is that it’s still a highly popular card and because it’s not as widely available as some other Jackson rookie cards, also a bit more expensive.
You’re essentially getting three cards in one, and it was a revolutionary card for its time, too. Today, you might be able to find it, but if you’re looking to get the highest qualtiy possible, be prepared to spend several hundred dollars, and the number might go into thousands if the card is right.
The main problem seems to be finding high-quality cards, though. Most of them will be rated lower than PSA 8, while the higher graded cards will cost quite a lot. There’s no middle ground with this card, and you might have to simply pay up or leave.
Other Bo Jackson Baseball Cards
So those are the main Bo Jackson rookie cards, but there are plenty of other great cards that you’ll find of this player, especially from his college days. Here are some of the best cards of this player that are not his rookie cards.
1986 Donn Jennings Southern League All-Stars Bo Jackson
This card is perhaps his most valuable and most popular card from his early, college days. He played for Memphis, and he was quickly establishing himself as a future start – which escalated when he was picked in the Southern League All-Star team.
He was a part of this 25-card set that also contained some other great players like Tom Glavine or Jose Canseco. Jackson was setting up for his MLB career with the Memphis Chicks, which was the affiliate team of the Royals in the Minor League. And that’s also when it became clear that Jackson was to become a Royals regular.
The card itself looks nice, too. It features the image of Jackson in action, and there’s also the writing above the image that says “Future Star”. Oh, how true it is.
As for the card itself and its value, it varies. For a well-kept card like the one above, you might have to spend several hundred dollars to get. Overall, it’s one of the more expensive cards of Bo Jackson from his early days in the Minor Leagues and his college days.
1986 Memphis Chicks Bo Jackson #10
Today the Memphis Chicks are known as West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. But back in 1986, Memphis Chicks were an affiliate team of the Royals, which is where Bo Jackson spent his formative years to learn the ins and outs of the game.
In terms of this card, you can find the gold and the silver version of it. Most people prefer the gold one for the looks; in terms of population, they’re quite similar in numbers, though. It comes down to personal preference and what sort of layout you prefer.
This is perhaps the most valuable Bo Jackson card before he started his MLB career. In good condition, the value of this card can reach a couple of thousand dollars if not more, depending on the demand and the availability of the cards.
However, there is only one copy of this card that has been graded PSA 10 (officially), although you will probably find many instances of ungraded cards. We believe there’s a huge field of opportunity there, but you must be careful what you’re getting. You have to inspect the centering closely before deciding your purchase.
In terms of design, the card is quite simple. It features a large frontal photo of Bo Jackson along with a gold or silver border. It’s nothing spectacular in terms of looks, but it is in terms of significance for Jackson’s career.
1987 Fleer Glossy Bo Jackson #369
The Fleer Glossy Bo Jackson card is the parallel of the official base card that Fleer created in 1987. This card is one of the more popular cards of Bo Jackson, while you could arguably say that the Glossy parallel is one of the most expensive cards of this player, if not the most expensive.
The main difference between the base card and the parallel is the card stock; namely, the Glossy parallel was created on the cardboard stock while the base card is a bit flimsier and thus cheaper.
You’ll probably have a hard time finding either of the two in top condition, though. It has blue borders, which means any wear and tear will show up more easily. Also, the stock of the base card is much more vulnerable to any tears, so the Glossy parallels tend to age a bit more gracefully.
This also means that a PSA 10 Glossy card will be worth much more than its base card. You could argue that either of the two would be a must-have card for any Bo Jackson collector or simply anyone who understands and appreciates the greatness of this sportsman.
1987 Classic Game Bo Jackson #15
Now, this card is a bit of a mixture between Jackson’s football and baseball credentials. He was a multi-sportsman, as he was capable of playing both baseball and football to a very high level.
And this card combines the beauty of the two. It’s a bit of a unique one to Jackson, who was known for being proficient at both batting and playing football. He’s pictured in his Auburn kit with a baseball bat in his hands.
A gem mint copy of this card will sell for several hundred, making it one of the more valuable Bo Jackson cards. However, the problem will probably be finding a gem mint card of this variant. Yes, there are still some great cards like this on the market, but you just might struggle to find a good quality one.
Overall, this is one of the most iconic Bo Jackson, but also one of the more iconic cards in the history of MLB and NFL. There are not many other players who could play both sports at the same time at such a high level, although you could say that Jackson would have achieved even more in his career had he not been injured as often.
1987 Leaf Bo Jackson #35
Last but not least, the 1987 Leaf Jackson card is one of the most widely owned cards of this player. That’s partly because it was mass-printed and available to almost anyone at the time, but also because Jackson was such a highly popular figure in both sports.
Here, he’s in his Royals uniform, which will appeal more to baseball rather than football fans. You might also notice that the image of the card is the same as on the Donruss card, which might be a turn-off for some.
This card was meant for the Canadian market, so the interesting thing is that you’ll find them printed in both English and French.