Once upon a time, Craig Biggio was an All-Star catcher who looked like he might develop into something of a potent stick, too.

Not a magical formula for rookie card prices, but Houston Astros fans were starting to get happy with him.

Then the Astros moved him to second base in 1992, and he became … well, he became an All-Star again.

And then a Gold Glover and a Silver Slugger and an MVP candidate and a Killer B.

Ultimately, Biggio put up more than 3000 hits and almost 300 home runs, and he beat longtime teammate Jeff Bagwell to Hall of Fame enshrinement by two years.

And all of that?

Yeah, all of that was enough to whip up a goodly and sustained interest in Biggio’s copious rookie cards.

Here’s the rundown of those now-dusty relics …

1988 Fleer Update Craig Biggio (#U-89)

1988 Fleer Update Craig Biggio

Biggio made his Major League debut just about a year after the Astros took him with their first-round draft pick in 1987.

And about five months after that — and after a rookie season that saw him hit .211 with three home runs and catch 50 games — Fleer included him in their 1988 Update set.

By adding Biggio to their late-season mix, Fleer got the jump on most of their competition, even if it would take a few years for the future Hall of Famer to make them look good.

And, while 1988 Fleer is no great shakes overall, the Biggio RC shakes a little better than most of the rest.

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1988 Score Rookie and Traded Craig Biggio (#103T)

1988 Score Rookie and Traded Craig Biggio

Pretty much the same story here as with the Fleer card above, except this Biggio was part of Score’s first ever Rookie and Traded set.

Though I still think the 1988 Score set is sort of flat, it was pretty popular at the time, and it represented a big leap forward in terms of photo quality … especially on card backs.

Sort of a stepping stone between, say, 1981 Donruss and 1989 Upper Deck.

Anyway, the Biggio RC features a nicely framed batting shot and orange borders that work well for, you know, an Astros player.

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1989 Astros Lennox HSE Craig Biggio (#24)

1989 Astros Lennox HSE Craig Biggio

This is a team issue sponsored by — this is gonna surprise you — Lennox heating and cooling, and HSE (Home Sports Entertainment).

You won’t find this card very often, but when you do, you’ll be looking at a taller than normal pasteboard of a kid ballplayer who looks as ready for a Babe Ruth game as an MLB game.

Oh, on the back, you’ll also learn that Biggio was the first non-pitcher from the 1987 to make it to the Majors.

Cool story, bro.

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1989 Astros Smokey Craig Biggio (#6)

I know this card exists, because it’s on a few checklists around the interwebs, like here at Beckett.com.

But it’s elusive, at least in photographic form. That same Beckett link will take you to a picture of the Dan Schatzeder card from the same set, though. Looks like a fire/safety card from the 1980s.

Which, I guess, is what it is.

The Biggio is, too, or would be … if you could find it.

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1989 Classic Craig Biggio (#51)

1989 Classic Craig Biggio

Classic was back for a third season in 1989, with a design that was decidedly less classic than its predecessors and decidedly more 1980s.

Biggio falls in the 100-card “blue” set that forms the base of the issue and was included with the actual Classic trivia game itself. The design is simple, but the pink-to-blue fade of the borders, the solid blue background, and the bright yellow typeface are garish exemplars of the decade.

Biggio almost looks wrong smiling back at us with anything less than Cyndi Lauper hair, like a time traveler out of sync with his surroundings.

The Anachronistic Astro.

Still a cool card, though, and one that plenty of collectors have broken away from the original full set. It won’t break the bank, in other words.

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1989 Donruss Craig Biggio (#561)

1989 Donruss Baseball's Best Craig Biggio

Another Biggio rookie card that won’t break the bank is the 1989 Donruss base issue. This card is the first one on our list that collectors could pull from real, live wax packs across the land.

And, coming as they did in the midst of the Junk Wax era, those wax packs were all across the land.

The 1989 Donruss design has never been a collector favorite, but the top and bottom yellow-to-red-fade borders work well with the Astros colors, and the action shot of Biggio in his tools of ignorance is one of the best offerings in the entire set.

Still, there are enough of these floating around out there that you could probably tile your basement with the Donruss Biggio rookies lurking within a mile radius of you right now.

You might be a tad disappointed with the durability of the surface, though.

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1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best Craig Biggio (#176)

1989 Donruss Craig Biggio

Donruss was always sort of an oddball among the Big Three card manufacturers, what with their puzzle pieces and Diamond Kings and Rated Rookies and such.

But they were also innovative, not averse to taking a risk.

And prescient, as evidenced by Biggio’s inclusion in the 1989 Donruss Baseball’s Best issue at a time when he had racked up all of 123 at-bats in the Big Leagues.

Big D knew, somehow.

Now, just try to forget that the “Best” also counted Kirt Manwaring, Jeff Parrett, and Dave Gallagher among its 336 members.

They aren’t material to your enjoyment of another Biggio Donruss rookie.

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1989 Fleer Craig Biggio (#353)

1989 Fleer Craig Biggio

The 1989 Fleer Craig Biggio rookie card never stood much of a chance of being a hobby juggernaut.

First of all, dude already had a Fleer card — see 1988 Fleer Update above.

Second of all, this is the issue where Billy Ripken reared his ugly bat knob.

Third of all, Ken Griffey, Jr. And then Randy Johnson.

Fourth of all, the card design is straight out of a box set, what with the thick gray stripes that eat up more real estate than Garry Maddox.

I mean, would it surprise you at all to open the flap on a Wawa Wonders of Baseball set and find these things all bricked up in there, just waiting for you?

Biggio would slide right in between Rick Schu and Terry Blocker.

It would have been sweet.

This card … well, it’s another Biggio rookie.

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1989 Mother’s Cookies Astros Craig Biggio (#14)

1989 Mother's Cookies Astros Craig Biggio

Cookies. Mmmmm!

Man, I’ll tell you … I was really envious of all those fans of west coast and west division teams back in the 1980s.

Not only did they get to watch their clubs play in the sunshine all the time …

Not only did their teams win a lot … Royals, A’s, Dodgers, Twins (AL West) all won World Series from 1985 through 1989 …

But …

A bunch of them also had at least a chance to pick up Mother’s Cookies cards at the ballpark.

And these things looked great, too, with full-bleed photos and not much else. They came in packs handed out at games, yielding about 90 percent of a full team set plus some doubles.

Instant trading fodder!

And then you could also get one card when you bought a pack of Mother’s Cookies at local stores.

Cookies. Mmmmm!

Oh, and a nifty Craig Biggio, crouching in the grass with a baseball and catcher’s mitt.

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1989 Panini Stickers Craig Biggio (#79)

1989 Panini Stickers Craig Biggio

After several years of producing baseball stickers to be sold under the Topps label, Panini shifted to releasing their own product in 1988.

The next year, again taking on the gum giant, Panini was back with another 480 smallish stickers that were built to be affixed in a special album made just for them.

Biggio is here as a rookie, on sticker #79, but beware if you go after this thing … he looks like he just might be angry with you.

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1989 Score Craig Biggio (#237)

1989 Score Craig Biggio

So, OK, technically this isn’t Biggio’s first Score card, but it is his Score rookie card if you take the strict Beckett definition (at least the old one) that says an RC has to be widely available in retail outlets.

It’s got maybe the biggest picture ever of Biggio’s head, too, so that has to count for something, right?


Here, it counts enough to get a place on our list.

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1989 Score Rising Stars Craig Biggio (#98)

1989 Score Rising Stars Craig Biggio

Yeah, this one pushes the “rookie card” definition even more since it’s neither Biggio’s first Score card nor his first base Score card.

But it came out the same year as a lot of his other RCs, and it’s from an interesting set that looks like a mash-up of the (then) forthcoming 1990 and 1991 Score sets.

Also, the 100-card set was issued in conjunction with a magazine called, 1988-89 Baseball’s 100 Hottest Rookies, so that’s different.

It came with Magic Motion trivia cards, too. So …

Oh, yeah — the Biggio card features a solid action shot.

Good stuff, in a junky, waxy sorta way.

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1989 Score Young Superstars Craig Biggio (#33)

1989 Score Young Superstars Craig Biggio

OK, Score, I’m starting to think that maybe you were part of the problem in the Junk Wax era, and in ushering us into this new, confusing world of choice overload.

Did you really need another Craig Biggio rookie card?

I guess you thought so, because you included him here in this first series of your 1989 Young Superstars cards, which you made available as inserts and as a complete set.

Then, you went and made Series 2 available only as a box set.

And why did you make each series have 42 cards? That fits with no baseball card conventions. None.


So we could have this OK looking Biggio card? And so you could make money with it?

Hope you’re happy, Score.

Now, I need to get back to not talking to defunct card companies.

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1989 Topps Craig Biggio (#49)

1989 Topps Craig Biggio

Topps did this one the old Topps way. The right way.

Biggio was a rookie in 1988, Topps took a look at that fact, pulled his stats together, and slapped them on the back of a brand new rookie card in 1989.

That was it.

End of story.

A classic, overproduced card that looks pretty decent, all things considered.

And you got gum, too.

It was the right thing to do, and the tasty way to do it.

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1989 Upper Deck Craig Biggio (#273)

1998 Upper Deck Craig Biggio

We all know it was Upper Deck who really killed baseball cards, right?

I mean, by making cards that looked like little photographer’s portfolios and ramping up card quality to obscene levels.

How could the other companies compete?

It’s like, you walk into a 1980s party and two icons start giving you the eye, acting like maybe they want to talk about your parachute pants, or maybe even put a yarn bracelet around your wrist.

In one corner, Cindy Crawford brushes off Richard Gere and heads your way.

In another corner, Tammy Fletcher from band sets down her tuba and hitches up her glasses.

You’ve always had a little crush on Tammy, but … this is Upper Crawford!

I mean, Cindy Deck!

I mean, it gets all confused, and you don’t know what the heck is happening to you.

What’s this have to do with Craig Biggio? Well, he has a rookie card in that inaugural UD set, and it looks great.

Almost too great.

I’m suspicious.

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