If you like consistency in your hobby experience, then 1991 Upper Deck baseball cards were right up your alley.

Not only did Upper Deck’s third issue present the same basic clean white motif with stunning photos on both card fronts and backs as the 1989 and 1990 sets, but it completed a theme.

Namely, with their 1991 issue, UD came all the way home — the 1989 design featured the first-base line, the 1990 cards had the path from first to second covered, and the 1991s rounded third and raced in for the score.

And, while time has revealed that these dandies were just about as overproduced as all the other 1991 cards, that consistent and high-quality presentation, along with a strong crop of rookie cards, has kept collector interest simmering along.

Here, then, are the ten most popular 1991 Upper Deck baseball cards, as ranked by the number of cards submitted to PSA for grading over the years, according to their Population Report.

Play ball!

1991 Upper Deck Chipper Jones (#55)

1991 Upper Deck Chipper  Jones

This was the era when the rookie card mania from the 1980s met the massive hype and proliferation of cards and sets of the 1990s to ensure that every player had at least a few hundred different rookie cards (hyperbole alert) … and, as early as possible.

So, even though Chipper wouldn’t make his Major League debut until 1993, and even though he wasn’t an actual rookie until 1995, he landed on a “Top Prospect” card here in 1991.

He really was a top prospect, though, and this card has been popular for three decades and counting. That amazing career Jones put together with the Braves, along with a spot in Cooperstown, don’t hurt this card’s swagger any.

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1991 Upper Deck Jeff Bagwell (#755)

1991 Upper Deck Jeff  Bagwell

Bagwell, on the other hand, landed his UD rookie card just in the nick of time.

After a trade deadline swap that sent him from the Boston Red Sox to the Houston Astros for Larry Andersen in 1990, Bags settled in at first base to open the 1991 season.

He didn’t look back until he was in the Hall of Fame, right there beside fellow Killer B, Craig Biggio.

Probably even more than the Jones card, this Bagwell RC found an immediate home with collectors, driven by Baggy’s Rookie of the Year award in 1991 and his persistent appearance on MVP ballots (he won the award in 1994).

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1991 Upper Deck Mike Mussina (#65)

1991 Upper Deck Mike  Mussina

Like Jones, Mussina got the “prospect” treatment in this set, but he made his debut later in that same summer of 1991.

By the next spring, Moose was ensconced in the Orioles’ rotation, and he would develop into one of the most consistently excellent pitchers in the game over the next two decades.

Mussina’s profile, and that of his cards, got a boost when he moved on to the Yankees in 2001 and helped them capture two American League pennants (2001, 2003).

Though Moose never won a World Series, he did win a Cooperstown plaque in 2019, which always does good things for a fella’s cards.

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1991 Upper Deck Luis Gonzalez (#567)

1991 Upper Deck Luis  Gonzalez

It’s sort of ironic that Gonzalez shows up as a first baseman for the Astros here on his Upper Deck rookie card given that Bagwell is similarly designated.

Bags, of course, ultimately won the competition at first, with Gonzalez sliding into left field.

Gonzo was solid but unspectacular throughout his Houston tenure, and then in stops with the Cubs and Tigers.

But a 1999 trade that sent him from Detroit to the Arizona Diamondbacks changed the complexion of his career — in eight seasons in the desert, Gonzalez smacked 224 home runs, hit .298, and became a bona fide star … all in his 30s.

That run included a gaudy 57 home runs in 2001, the same year his walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth of game 7 off Mariano Rivera drove in Jay Bell to give the Snakes their first World Series title ever.

Stuff like that tends to make a guy’s rookie card sort of popular … forever.

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1991 Upper Deck Frank Thomas (#246)

1991 Upper Deck Frank  Thomas

Since Thomas had a handful of rookie cards in the various 1990 sets — but not UD — this one technically qualifies as a first Upper Deck card, and not really a rookie card.

Collectors of the day, though, treated this one pretty much on par with the Bagwell rookie as both players heated up that summer.

Thomas had already exhausted his rookie status in 1990, but his 32 home runs, 109 RBI, .318 batting average, and 1.006 OPS in 1991 lit up the game and the hobby.

Big Hurt crashed hobby hotlists right off the bat, and he remained a popular figure all throughout his 19-year Hall of Fame career, and beyond.

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1991 Upper Deck Mark McGwire (#174)

1991 Upper Deck Mark  McGwire

Big Mac would hit the first bump in his career road the summer this card was issued, bottoming out with a .201 batting average and just 22 home runs.

He would rebound to a large extent in 1992 before injuries (and The Strike) limited him to just 178 games from 1993 through 1995.

Of course, it all turned around in 1996, when he topped 50 home runs for the first time, and then came the historic homer barrage in the late 1990s. That rocketed his cards to the top of the hobby, and, though the steroid scandal that followed dinged his reputation significantly, McGwire maintains a strong collector base even today.

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1991 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. (#555)

1991 Upper Deck Ken  Griffey  Jr.n

Junior was already one of the most exciting players in the game in 1991, but he didn’t really explode until he found his power stroke in 1993.

Still, this card was a popular buy right out of the pack as it continued the run of great Griffey Upper Deck cards that began with #1 in the 1989 set and continued with a smiling “Kid” in 1990.

Today, there are few more popular retired players in the hobby, and among fans in general, than Griffey.

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1991 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan (#345)

1991 Upper Deck Nolan  Ryan

Anyone who saw Nolan Ryan’s move to the Texas Rangers before the 1989 season as nice, quiet way to wind down his long career got a loud wake up call right off the bat.

A 300-strikeout season at age 42 grabbed us all by the throat and shouted that Ryan wasn’t close to being done, and then no-hitters in both 1990 and 1991 — along with continued K dominance — stomped home the point.

By the time 1991 Upper Deck debuted, Ryan’s rookie was lighting the hobby on fire, and all of his cards have continued to sit near the top of the collecting world for three decades running.

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1991 Upper Deck Bernie Williams (#11)

1991 Upper Deck Bernie  Williams

Though he predated the vaunted Core Four of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams was a key contributor to the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990s and 2000s.

Williams was a perennial 5-to-6 WAR guy, and it’s hard to imagine the Yanks winning four World Series titles in five seasons without Bernie in center field.

Though Williams was more consistently excellent than in-your-face amazing, he slowly built a strong hobby following, and his rookie cards (this is a “first Upper Deck” card) in particular remain popular today.

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1991 Upper Deck Cal Ripken Jr. (#347)

1991 Upper Deck Cal  Ripken  Jr.n

After a few seasons of declining performance — by traditional statistical standards, anyway — Ripken busted out with probably his greatest season ever in 1991, including a .323 batting average, 34 home runs, and 114 RBI.

That was good enough to garner the Iron Man his second MVP award (1983 being the other), and to elevate his hobby status to even higher levels than before.

Suffice it to say, collectors were happier than ever to pull a Cal card from packs that summer.

As Ripken closed in on Lou Gehrig‘s record for consecutive games played over the next few seasons, he further cemented his “legend” status, and his cards are almost always among the most popular of whatever set he appears in.

The 1991 Upper Deck issue is no exception.

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