1997 Donruss Greg Maddux
One of the best pitchers of his generation, Maddux is a great baseball player to collect. He has a large amount of cards that were produced during his career with a little something for everyone. Low end, high end, base cards, inserts, relics, autographs. Plenty of everything to collect with Maddux. Personally, I always got annoyed with Maddux. He was a really good player and, as a control pitcher, would nibble on the edges of the strike zone. Maddux's rookie cards are all from the 1987 card calendar year and feature Maddux in his Cubbies uniform. Pretty cool mustache on the 1987 Donruss.
Maddux had a great run of cards from the his rookie card until his last year's as a Cub, Padre, and Dodger. Most Maddux collectors seem to focus on his early Cub years and the prime of his career with the Braves. Maddux appeared in all of the base sets, but would get based over at times on inserts and the whatnot. While he was a Hall of Fame player on a great run of Braves teams, Maddux was always a notch below Chipper Jones in the eyes of card collectors. Pick a cool insert set from the late 90s and if there's a Brave, chances are you are looking at Chipper. Still does not diminish the fact that fans of the game loved to collect Maddux and Braves fans.
Maddux being the second most popular Brave helped his cards in many ways during the 90s and early 2000s in my opinion. The fact that Maddux was skipped over for inserts limited the amount of cards out on the market for the pitcher. The result is that Maddux cards are some of the best investments collectors can find on the secondary market from his era. Cards with limited print runs from the early 2000s can often sell for a few dollars on Ebay, but track down a Maddux and you are going to see competitive bidding and a price that settles above average.
While Maddux relic cards are pretty easy to find and while not run you very much money, his autographs can be a completely different story. Maddux signed for a lot of the big autograph sets during his era, but his cards were often short printed and hard to come across. Devoted Maddux collectors have long-ago scooped up the majority of Maddux autographs. A few float free every once in awhile, but the cards have retained their value very well and will often run collectors close to $100 for an autograph. I picked up a copy of a 2000 Fleer Showcase last year and can say that the short printed autographs, low runs, high end autographs will run higher than $100 and can, at times, drift near $200.
2000 Fleer Showcase Greg Maddux Autograph
Maddux has had a few autographs put out since his retirement including a few Leaf cards which can be found for around $50. If you want to get a Maddux autograph for the sake of getting a Maddux autograph the Leaf autograph might be a good avenue to check out. While Maddux does not have the prettiest autograph, he has been very consistent over the years, and there is no denying that he is one of the most important players of his generation.
On The Field Impact-
I reviewed the Hall of Fame credentials of Maddux a few days back and will summarize briefly for you again here today. Simply put: Maddux is the best one or two pitchers of his generation. Some people will put Roger Clemens or Randy Johnson ahead of Maddux, but at worst he is the third best pitcher out of a really good group. JAWS rates him as the tenth best starting pitcher of all-time behind both Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson.
Tenth best includes 355 wins and 3,300 strikeouts. Maddux also helped the Braves to the National League East title for a decade straight. While Maddux had a losing postseason record he still managed to keep his ERA just north of 3.00 and kept it just above two in five World Series starts. Anyway you slice it Maddux was a great pitcher on the field. Hopefully he should be in the Hall of Fame sometime in early January.
One of the cool things about Maddux is the fact that he played on a great team with other great and good players. While finding individual Maddux cards is cool, he's one of the few players I will find on cards with other players. Smoltz and Maddux. Glavine and Maddux. Avery and Maddux. Chipper Jones and Maddux. All cool combinations. So, really I could post a bunch of different cards in this space and they would all be cool. Narrowing it down I would go with the 2002 Upper Deck Vintage relic cards. I own one with the two Joneses and Maddux, but there is also a quad version with Glavine. If I owned the quad version it would be here. Since I don't here's the other one:
2002 Upper Deck Vintage Andruw Jones/Chipper Jones/Greg Maddux Timeless Teams Jersey