Card of the Day: 2000 Upper Deck Signed Jersey Alex Rodriguez

00udarodautoxxBefore Alex Rodriguez was considered the game’s greatest player, publicly linked to Madonna and called the 25 Million Dollar Man, he was merely a rising star; a candidate to be among the game’s elite.

He was a stud shortstop for the up-and-coming Seattle Mariners. Hitting in a lineup with future hall of famers Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez; playing on the same field as Randy Johnson.

It was during this time, that Rodriguez’s spot in the hobby was uncertain. He was an up-and-comer for sure, but he was not even considered the hobby’s best when it came to shortstops. Instead of taking top honors, he shared the glory with Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra and New York’s Derek Jeter. He was, in a sense, a third wheel.

By 2000, the year this particular 2000 Upper Deck signed game-used jersey card hit the market, Alex was on his way to becoming the game’s best. He was a year away from signing his record-setting contract with Texas, and several years from the Bronson Arroyo incident.

But this is what makes this card so intriguing. It was created by Upper Deck, and signed by Alex, BEFORE all that drama. To some collectors such little factoids matter not. After all, an autograph of the game’s greatest is the same in most cases. But it matters a little to me.

In 2006 when I was searching for an A-Rod signature to add to my collection, I initially decided upon the 2006 Bowman Chrome dual signature featuring Alex and prospect Justin Upton. The cost wasn’t too bad, but the longer that card sat in my display case, the more I started to hate it.

Sure, it was rare — serial numbered to less than 200 copies — but it was an ugly sticker ‘graph, featured an unproven prospect, and Alex was pictured as a Yankee. Oh, and Alex was wearing those damn Oakley sunglasses. Ugh.

So I continued to shop, and lo and behold this Upper Deck card popped up at a discounted price. The fact that this is one of the earlier autographed memorabilia cards also adds to the intrigue; I love hobby history.

Alex is a first-ballot hall of famer; statistically one of the best ever. And while this is card is six years removed from his rookie-year signatures, I do feel like it comes from the early days, before he blew up.

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