When do you think the first Andres Galarraga baseball card was issued?
The 1986 Donruss Rated Rookies card, maybe?
Or, how about that 1986 Fleer Major League Prospect card he shared with Phillies swingman Freddie Toliver?
Those were early, for sure, and are generally considered to be the Big Cat’s rookie cards. But, before Galarrago suited up for the Montreal Expos for the first time in August of 1985, he appeared on in an Indianapolis Indians team issue that same summer … a Triple-A card, sure, but still a card of a budding superstar.
So, case closed — the Indians graced the world with the first Galarraga baseball card.
Except … they didn’t.
See, way back in 1980, while Galarraga was still a teenager trying to gain some traction in the Montreal system after signing as an amateur free agent, he spent his winters playing ball in his native Venezuela.
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The Venezuelan Winter League has long been a plum destination for young players trying to fit in a little more game-action seasoning to their yearly schedule, and Galarraga took full advantage of the opportunity.
And, luckily for collectors, the Venezuelan Winter League engendered sets of player stickers and albums, beginning in about 1967.
It’s not clear (to me, at least, based on some limited research) who manufactured these babies, but what is clear is that young (young!) Galrraga makes his first professional paper ephemera appearance in the 1980 issue.
Now, some sources list 1981 as the year, but either way, it’s an early, early Big Cat sighting.
And, while it’s not strictly a card, and prone to the condition fragilities of paper products, the Venezuelan sticker checks in with a weight of 2 on PSA’s Galarraga master set checklist — that means it’s not impossible to find.
In fact, they do pop up on eBay from time to time, with the most recent copy as of this writing hammering down for $90 in PSA 2 condition in March 2020. You can see that listing right here (affiliate link).
So, the first baseball card of Andres Galarraga? It’s not a card at all, really, but it’s got the “first” part down cold — by a stretch of several years.
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