In 1985, Rafael Palmeiro was one of the most decorated college players in NCAA history, riding a stellar career at Mississippi State University to a first-round ticket to the pros with the Chicago Cubs.

By that fall, he was already pounding Single-A pitching, and the thumpings would become even more sound the next summer at Double-A Pittsfield, where Palmeiro hit .306 with 12 home runs and 95 RBI in 140 games before the Cubs called him up to Wrigley Field.

Adding in 15 stolen bases and 29 doubles, Raffy seemed like he could do just about anything on the baseball field — his future was wide open.

As if celebrating those endless possibilities, ProCard featured the young outfielder with the lethal lefty stick in its 1986 Pittsfield Cubs set, plopping him in the middle of an appropriately wide-open field-sky combo background:

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Palmeiro opened 1987 in the minors but also in wax packs everywhere, as both Topps and Donruss included him in their base sets, as a Future Star and a Rated Rookie, respectively.

When he came back up in June and began doing what he always did — hit, that is — collectors were quick to pull him aside into our “Someday Greats” piles.

And that turned out to be the right move, at least on the surface, as Palmeiro put together a 20-year big league career that eventually landed him alongside Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray as the only men to amass both 3000 hits and 500 home runs in the majors (with Albert Pujols joining them in 2018).

Of course, the specter of PED usage has since marred Palmeiro’s legacy and Hall of Fame chances, but he could still rake, and his RCs still carry a bit of hobby weight after all these years.

If you want Palmeiro’s first pro card, though, there is no substitute for that actual ProCard, where anything was possible and the slate was still clean.

Today, you can expect prices to range from just a couple of bucks for a nice raw copy, to $20 or so for a PSA 9, to well north of $100 for a perfect graded “10.”

Maybe not the sky-high limits the card itself once promised, but a not inconsequential reminder of what might have been, and what actually was.

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