January 31 is perhaps the greatest day of the year for birthday combinations in all of historic professional baseball history. It’s the special day for Jackie Robinson (1919), Ernie Banks (1931) and Nolan Ryan (1947). All three players could end up with a writeup as long as a biography for their own reasons. Add in documentaries, tributes and so on to the list that they all deserved.
How about a “rookie birthday card(s) tribute” instead? Jackie was the first to break the MLB color barrier, Nolan is the all-time strikeout leader (5,714) and Ernie is simply Mr. Cub.
The 1948 Leaf card of Jackie Robinson may technically not be a rookie card, but most collectors have never held a 1947 Bond Bread card and PSA has graded just 358 total examples of the 13 cards in the Bond Bread set. Meanwhile, PSA has graded 1,654 examples of the 1948 Leaf card of Jackie Robinson (plus 533 more graded examples from SGC).
There are nearly 5,200 PSA graded examples of the 1954 Topps Ernie Banks rookie card and it is deemed his only true rookie card. SGC has graded another 1,664 examples.
Nolan Ryan deserves a bit of a special treatment on his rookie card tribute, and not just because the front of the card is shared with Jerry Koosman. But on top of the Topps Nolan Ryan card’s large population (14,433 from PSA alone, and 3,859 from SGC), there are other cards that look almost identical to the base Topps rookie — 1968 O-Pee-Chee from Canada; the 1968 Topps Milton Bradley board game card; and the ultra-scarce 1968 Topps Venezuelan.
Many collectors and dealers have much higher graded examples than these, but here you go.