For about half of the last three decades, you could be pretty sure when you held a Manny Ramirez rookie card that you were looking at a future Hall of Famer.

After all, Manny was a key part of both the Cleveland Indians renaissance of the mid-to-late 1990s and the curse-busting 2004 Boston Red Sox ,who finally won a World Series after millennia filled with disappointment.

Ramirez was one of the best hitters in the game, tagging the ball with authority, getting on base, collecting hits like they were going out of style

He was an All-Star, a Silver Slugger, a perennial MVP candidate.

And then … the steroid scandal hit baseball, and Manny was suspended for PED use in 2009. Suddenly, his eccentricities seemed less charming, his march on 500 home runs less impressive. Another suspension, in 2011, sealed his fate as a baseball pariah.

Not surprisingly, then, Ramirez has struggled early in his HOF efforts, appearing on the Cooperstown ballot four times without ever being named on 30% of ballots. Does he have any hope of reaching the 75% mark necessary for enshrinement?

We’ll have to wait and see — his numbers say he’s a shoe-in, but his reputation and the ballot struggles of even better players, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, argue against his enshrinement.

Either way, there will always be a strong contingent of Manny fans, and a Manny Ramirez rookie card will always hold a special place in the hobby for many.

Or, as it turns out 18 special places … here is the rundown of Manny RCs.

1992 Bowman Manny Ramirez (#532)

1992 Bowman Manny  Ramirez

If you think Manny looks like a teenager on his 1992 Bowman rookie card, there’s a good reason for that — he is a teenager in the shot.

Ramirez signed with the Tribe in June of 1991, less than a month after he turned 19, and he spent that summer with the Rookie-level Burlington Indians. Bowman played on that youthful status with this very preppy looking shot of an intense, pensive young man.

And it fit Bowman’s new image.

By the time this set came out, the Topps upstart — but retro — line was finally ready to stake its claim to a solid identity. To wit, they were going to be THE place to go for rookie and prospect cards, and they’ve pretty much lived up to that promise all through the decades since.

Alas, even though 1992 Bowman also presented a big jump up in card quality over the 1989-91 renditions, it was about as overproduced as the next Junk Wax Era set.

As such, you can usually find Ramirez’s Bowman RC for just a few bucks unslabbed — perfect graded copies do push well into two figures, though.

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1992 Bowman Foil Manny Ramirez (#676)

1992 Bowman Foil Manny  Ramirez

Manny continued his big-man-on-campus act with a Bowman Foil card in that year’s set. Basically inserted one per pack (with some variations around jumbos and cartons). There were 45 cards total in the Foil insert, comprised of Team USA players, rookies, prospects, and Major League stars.

The gold borders can be a bit tough, and there at least should be fewer of these out there than the base Manny, but the foil version is still a pretty cheap buy all these years later.

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1992 Classic Best Manny Ramirez (#155)

1992 Classic Best Manny  Ramirez

In 1992, Manny graduated to the Single-A Kinston Indians, and Classic Best was there to capture the moment(s).

The red, white, and blue minor league cards were issued in two series, with the first being issued in 20,000 numbered cases, each containing ten boxes. That’s where you could find this Ramirez card, nestled there among 399 other prospects (50 more were available only as part of the factory sets). Even though these cards were technically “limited,” there were/are still plenty to be had.

Raw copies of the Manny sell for a dollar or so, with perfect 10s stretching into double digits.

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1992 Donruss ‘The Rookies’ Manny Ramirez (#98)

1992 Donruss 'The Rookies' Manny  Ramirez

While Manny didn’t make it into the revamped and upscaled 1992 Donruss base set, he did grace a card with the same design, courtesy of his appearance in the last issue of The Rookies (until 2001, at least).

Unlike previous renditions of the set, the 1992s were available only in wax packs instead of the usual 56-card boxed set. Donruss pumped growth hormone into this thing, too, boosting the card count to 132.

This is yet another early Ramirez card that today sits in the hobby bargain bin.

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1992 Fleer Excel Manny Ramirez (#164)

1992 Fleer Excel Manny  Ramirez

Ramirez didn’t make the Fleer cut at all, either in their base set or in their end-of-year Update issue.

He did, however, make the Fleer Excel roster in his Kinston uniform, one of 250 minor leaguers vying for spots in the Majors.

Lots of future big leaguers grace this set, but none carry the legacy of Derek Jeter … though at one point Manny could pretty much stand toe-to-toe with the Yankees legend.

These days, Manny’s card is another in a long line of dollar-or-so entries on this list.

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1992 O-Pee-Chee Manny Ramirez (#156)

1992 O-Pee-Chee Manny  Ramirez

If you were looking for a base card of Manny back in 1992, you were probably pretty deep into prospecting for young may-someday-be stars, or an Indians fan. Ramirez did make it to #37 on Baseball America’s list of the top 100 prospects, but the average fan and collector probably didn’t know that much about him.

Topps knew about him, though, and offered up a “Draft Pick” card of the 13th selection from that 1991 June draft at #156 in their base set, which meant you could find him in wax packs.

Same deal for O-Pee-Chee, which gave you nearly the same card, but with an O-Pee-Chee logo in place of the Topps logo.

Standard Topps-OPC stuff here.

This Canadian version of the Manny RC is a bit less plentiful than its U.S. counterpart, and it’s a fairly popular buy in higher graded conditions.

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1992 Pinnacle Manny Ramirez (#295)

1992 Pinnacle Manny  Ramirez

“You’re the top, dude. You’re the absolute pinnacle of the hobby!”

Those are undoubtedly the words Score was hoping to hear when they jumped into the premium card market in 1992 with a set called, naturally, Pinnacle.

This was nice set, with thick, double black borders that sort of gave the whole thing a certain gravitas, and, naturally, full-color fancy photos on card backs, where the dark motif continued.

Of course, all bits of formality have since melted like so much wax coating on old baseball card packs as the earth collapses into the sun under the heat — or deep-freeze — of hobby-choking overproduction.

The Manny card is fine, but boring, except for maybe that green “1st Round Draft Pick” logo, which at least adds a splash of color to the design.

It’s another in the Buck-a-Manny club.

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1992 ProCards Kinston Indians Manny Ramirez (#2488)

1992 ProCards Kinston Indians Manny  Ramirez

Another Fleer collaboration, at least you couldn’t say that the 1992 ProCards Kinston Indians Manny Ramirez card was boring.

Sort of amateurish in its design, maybe, with elements that might look at home in an early PhotoShop creation, but definitely not boring.

I mean, except for the actual posed shot of Manny, which doesn’t have much happening. There’s plenty of scenery in the background, though.

Imagine all the things that craggy tree over Ramirez’s left shoulder has seen?

Anyway, ProCards was also an ambitious undertaking, what with 4071 cards and all. That’s five full years of 1980s Topps sets, if you’re into multiplication, and you’d still have enough ProCards left over to make 84% of a Traded set.


This set also seems a bit harder to come by than most of the other issues on this list, which means you’ll have a tougher time finding it in the now-expected dollar range. You won’t have to take out a loan, or anything, but you might have to forego a couple cups of coffee.

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1992 Score Manny Ramirez (#800)

1992 Score Manny  Ramirez

Now, this is a pretty nice looking Manny Ramirez rookie card, if you ask me.

It has a very 1954 or 1958 feel, with Manny statuetted there against a fadeaway green background, looking like he might actually swing at a ball rather than just smolder or grin at the camera.

And, while “1st ROUND PICK” is a bit oversized streaking down the lefthand side, the overall design is clean and crisp.

The catch is …

Well, you know what it is. Overproduction. Low card values.

But, if you like this card and want to own one for your collection, that’s actually good news because the 1992 Score Manny RC is easy to find for cheap, even in great condition.

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1992 Topps Stadium Club Manny Ramirez (#146)

1992 Topps Stadium Club Manny  Ramirez

Talk about super premium cards!

Topps ruled the summer of 1991 with their very own whiz-bang-better-than-chocolate-and-oxygen cardboard they called Stadium Club.

The 1992 version looked really similar to that inaugural issue, but with even more space for the full-bleed photos.

Like so many other early Manny cards, though, the photo on his card showed the youngster in street clothes. It was an OK idea once or twice, but it was way overdone.

So was production (surprise!), leaving us with another one-dollar Manny Ramirez rookie card — though many of the cards that change hands seem to be of the PSA 10 variety, and you’re looking at dozens of bucks in that case.

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1992 Topps Manny Ramirez (#156)

1992 Topps Manny  Ramirez

See the discussion of Manny’s O-Pee-Chee card above.

This one’s exactly the same, except the logo-hole says “Topps” instead of “O-Pee-Chee,” and there’s no French text on the card back.

Still a cheap card, though.

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1992 Topps Gold Manny Ramirez (#156)

1992 Topps Gold Manny  Ramirez

See the discussion of the base Topps card above, because this is the exact same thing.

Except for that gold foil nameplate, which marks it as a Topps Gold card — part of a full parallel insert set issued in Topps packs that summer.

Inserted at about one per box of everything but vending boxes (5 per box) and factory sets (10 per), these Gold parallels were much more limited than the base set, even with Topps pushing out an additional 12,000 factory sets of all 792 Golds.

It’s actually not all that easy to find a Gold Manny for sale (unless it’s a “Winner” — see below), and you’ll probably pay double digits or more to own one.

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1992 Topps Gold Winner Manny Ramirez (#156)

1992 Topps Gold Winner Manny  Ramirez

Topps gave collectors another way to get their hands on Gold cards, too — by winning a scratch-off game called “Match-the-Stats.” Basically, you scratched off some round spots on a ball diamond to try and match the “winning stat” three times before getting an out.

Then, you got some number of runs, sent in the cards along with $2 once you’d collected 100 runs, and Topps sent back ten Gold cards to you.

Cool stuff.

Except thousands of collectors figured out how to game the game with a flashlight and some guile, and the market was flooded (relatively speaking) with the things.

At some point, Topps realized what was happening and began stamping the ill-gotten Golds with “Winner” to differentiate them from the inserted versions.

Got all that?


It means you’ll probably find some “Winner” Manny RCs out there — maybe more than non-winners — but even the Winners are scarce enough that you’ll probably have to pay a few bucks a pop (raw).

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1992 Topps Micro Manny Ramirez (#156)

1992 Topps Micro Manny  Ramirez

The hobby in 1992 was all about extremes — from super-duper, blow-your-eyeballs-out-the-back-of-your-head razzle dazzle expensive stuff to … well, to Topps Micros.

These really were tiny, at 1″ x 1-3/8″, though Topps made up for it by including a whopping 804 cards in each factory set.

The Manny Ramirez rookie card was one of those, of course, but it doesn’t have much of a single-card market considering you can get the whole set for under $10 most of the time.

If you *do* land a Manny single, though, try not to sneeze around it or you’re likely to blow the poor little thing into next week.

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1992 Upper Deck Minor League Manny Ramirez (#35)

1992 Upper Deck Minor League Manny  Ramirez

Upper Deck made minor league cards in 1992, too, and it seems they couldn’t get enough of Manny in that issue … as you’ll see here in a minute.

First of all, though, you should know that the UD Minors set rolled out 330 cards, available in 12-card Mylar packs. And that they were licensed by Minor League Baseball itself (not always the case for these types of sets).

Anyway, the Manny love got started with this art card painted by V. Wells, who just so happens to be Vernon Wells, Sr., father of Vernon Wells, Baseball Dude, and a heck of a sports artist.

Still, this “The Collector’s Choice” delicacy is not too hard to find and won’t set you back more than — you guessed it — about a buck.

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1992 Upper Deck Minor League Manny Ramirez (#55)

1992 Upper Deck Minor League Manny  Ramirez

Next up, UD puts Manny on card #55, which celebrates players with AL Diamond Skills –Ramirez is shown displaying one of his best, getting ready to hammer the ball.

As a side note, there is a non-zero possibility, given the font and lack of camel-humping, that this card actually depicts Al Diamond, when he played with the Skills.

Either way, Manny or Al, it’s another plentiful card that won’t cost much to make your own.

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1992 Upper Deck Minor League Manny Ramirez (#146)

1992 Upper Deck Minor League Manny  Ramirez

Finally, Upper Deck gives us a base Minors card of Manny Ramirez, one that shows him in the sunlit outfield with his hat on backwards, following through on a throw, just hinting at a smile.

This is a look fans came to know well over the years, and the boyish exuberance that often accompanied it — along with the growing eccentricities — left us with the unforgettable mantra of “Manny Being Manny.”

Manny can be Manny in your collection if you have a couple dollars to spend on this card.

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1992 Upper Deck Manny Ramirez (#63)

1992 Upper Deck Manny  Ramirez

OK, so that last Upper Deck Minors card up there wasn’t really “finally” … but this one is.

So, finally, Upper Deck also issued a Manny Ramirez rookie card in its base set in 1992, giving him “Top Prospect 92” status on #63.

This one is sort of a blend between Topps’ “senior picture” motif and UD Minors’ outfield candid — it’s a solid combo which arguably yields one of the more iconic early-career shots of Ramirez.

Alas (there you go with that again), this card is as common as a Manny “space” reference, meaning you overpaid if you spent a buck on it.

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