Tom Glavine rookie cards have never been major hobby drivers, but they managed a slow-burn climb to must-have status.

Sort of like the man himself, who won a couple of Cy Young awards and racked up five 20-win seasons on his way to 305 victories in a 22-year career.

See …

Glavine never really awed us with best-in-the-game status like rotation mate Greg Maddux or teammate Chipper Jones did for such a long time.

And he never blew the cover off the ball the way John Smoltz did.

But Glavine was the most consistent face of the Braves’ Hall of Fame rotation trio from the late 1980s (while Maddux was still a Cub) until he departed for the Mets before the 2003 season.

All of that success with the Braves, and that plaque in Cooperstown, will keep Glavine’s spot in the hobby warm for a good long time, even if it never scorches.

Here is a rundown of the complete complement of Tom Glavine rookie cards.

1988 Donruss Tom Glavine (#644)

1988 Donruss Tom Glavine

It’s been estimated that Donruss produced enough of their 1988 cards to paper all the walls in the Empire State Building seven times over … and still be able to repave the Brooklyn Bridge.

There were a lot.

It’s understandable why they’d go that route, since printing baseball cards was pretty much akin to printing money in 1988, but that didn’t do a lot for the secondary market once collectors figured out these pasteboards were everywhere.

I mean, there were Tom Glavine Donruss rookie cards at Turner Field before it even existed.

Somebody stop me!

OK, on the redeeming side, this is a very recognizable card as it appeared in dealer ads for years, and Glavine is a Hall of Famer.

So, in that backhanded sort of way, it’s a classic.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1988 Fleer Tom Glavine (#539)

1988 Fleer Tom Glavine

By comparison to Donruss, 1988 Fleer baseball cards are like the Hope Diamond.

But let’s say that Fleer had only 10% the print run of Donruss in 1988 — probably not true, but work with me here.

What’s 10% of, say, infinity.


Still, this Glavine card is at least thicker than the Donruss version of his RC, and the truth is, Fleer was a *little* tough to get in 1988. Again, at least by comparison, and at least in some places, like here in Indiana.

Plus, any card where a guy is flashing a smile as crooked as my own is aces in my book.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1988 Score Tom Glavine (#638)

1988 Score Tom Glavine

Score hit the hobby with a lot of hullabaloo in 1988, partly because they upped the game in terms of photography — front and back — and partly because they were the first new major set in seven years.

Score did well with collectors early on, but it didn’t take long for us to realize there were plenty of these to go around, too. And, for me at least, they were a little too slick to really pluck the heart strings.

Still, Score nailed their Glavine rookie card. Consider …

  • Rookie Prospect designation to tap into the mania of the day
  • Action shot in a sea of awkward young-Glavine poses
  • Braves cap perched high on his head — something we’d see more of
  • The Tomahawk uniform bearing down on hitters — something else we’d see more of
  • The golden left arm in full extension
  • The laughing Indian — love him or hate him — watching from the outfield

Yep, this is a solid RC.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1988 Starting Lineup Talking Baseball Tom Glavine

1988 Starting Lineup Talking Baseball Tom Glavine

Those Kenner Starting Lineup action figure figurine things were all the rage for awhile there in the hobby.

I loved them, for sure.

What I loved more, though, was the electronic game that Parker Brothers released in the same line (by name, at least) that let you plug in a cartridge — like Atari — and then play a game on a big old tabletop thing that looked like a stadium.

(Parker Brothers and Kenner both descended from General Mills somehow and were sort of joined in 1985. It’s complicated.)

Had Mel Allen announcing the shebang, made all sorts of sounds … great, great, great!

And it also came with a set of baseball cards that you used to set your lineup, and that you loved because they were baseball cards. Even if they were squarish.

As an adjunct, Parker Brothers also issued some team card sets, one of which featured the Atlanta Braves with artistic renditions of several players, including young Tom Glavine.

You won’t find this baby very often, and nice graded copies can set you back 50 bucks or more.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1988 Topps Tom Glavine (#779)

1988 Topps Tom Glavine

Another shot of pubescent Glavine and cringy smile.

Somehow, I feel like there are fewer of these running around out there than the lefty’s Donruss RC, but again … it’s sort of like asking which has more water — the Atlantic or Pacific?

Anyway, the 1988 Topps design is clean and bright, pulling in elements of the beloved 1957 and 1967 issues.

Plus, you gotta have it if you’re building a Glavine master set.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1988 Topps Stickers Tom Glavine (#44)

1988 Topps Stickers Tom Glavine

Glavine slid in here to the 1988 Topps Stickers set on one of those split-screen deals that he shares with Dave Schmidt (#226).

It has a bright yellow border, too, so you barely even notice the Braves youngster at all. Especially when you factor in the full-color card on the back.

I’m not 100% certain if this was a mix-and-match affair, or if the same dude was behind-the-scenes support for Glavine and Schmidt every time, but I’ve seen at least one example with Ron Guidry on the back.

Pretty cool that one great lefthander — Lousiana Lightning himself — could be the flipside of another — Glavine.

There is also an O-Pee-Chee version of the Glavine/Schmidt combo, with a nod to being “printed in Canada.”

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

1989 Bowman Tom Glavine (#267)

1989 Bowman Tom Glavine

This is the only Glavine card on this list that wasn’t issued in 1988, but it’s the first opportunity Topps had to include him in their Bowman line.

That’s because the oversize 1989 issue was the first Bowman set since Topps swallowed them in 1956.

Also, this set is pretty close in design to the 1988 Topps base set, with a little less design heft, and an added facsimile autograph.

And … well, Topps used the exact same photo here as they did in that 1988 set, modulo a slight turn to the right by Glavine.

Oh, and Bowman would soon become the place to go for rookie cards.

Add it all together, and including this card on this list felt like the right executive decision.

(You could make a similar argument for 1989 Upper Deck Glavine on the first point up there … but not the rest.)

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)

Want to see a video version of this article?