This Is Every Baseball Card Worth More Than $500
Ask a collector and you would know that some antiques which may even look like trash or totally worthless to many can easily fetch seven and eight-figure price these days. Yes, you heard it right and no, we are not kidding! People are filthy rich and sometimes they spend as much on old cardboard pieces as some of us would be willing to spend on our dream house! While original artwork, be it a painting or sculpture, and postcards are two of the most popular collectibles among connoisseurs, baseball cards are not far behind.
The latter part of the ’80s and early ’90s saw massive production of baseball cards due to which the value of most of these cards post 1980s declined. Massive print runs sort of made them more accessible as well as affordable which was obviously good news for baseball lovers! But many pre War and various high-grade post War vintage baseball cards are extremely valuable! If we are being honest, the value of these baseball cards can be astronomical. So, in case you have a collection of baseball cards, there is a probability that you are sitting on something worth a lot of money.
We have curated a list of 25 most sought after baseball cards that hold incredible value among the collectors.
Topps Mickey Mantle #311 1952
The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 is among one of most valuable baseball cards! Ask a baseball collector and they will tell you that this particular card is nothing less than a thing of beauty. The fact that the card is scarcely available and that it dates back to the 50’s are probably the two reasons for a low print run of Mantle, a part of high series baseball cards by Topps. A legendary story is also associated with the card. It is said that Sy Berger, former Topps executive, dumped cases of the card into the Atlantic Ocean. In 2018, the card’s PSA 9 version was sold for a whopping $2.8 million!
Baltimore News Babe Ruth #9 1914
The 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth #9 is a pre-rookie card dedicated to Babe Ruth, the legendary slugger. This card is without a doubt one of the rarest in the history of baseball cards! Issued 2 years before Ruth first made it on a card (in 1916 M-101-4/5) as a major league player is sought after by collectors. It has just 10 known versions of which one is at the Babe Ruth Museum. The last sale was made in 2012. It was a PSA 2 graded version that sold for $575,000!!
Sporting News Babe Ruth #151 1916
As you already read in the previous point, the 1916 M-101-4/5 or Sporting News baseball card was not the first card of Babe Ruth! The card nonetheless holds high value as it is considered to be Ruth’s true ‘rookie card’. The reason being that the Baltimore News card which was issued in 1914 was looked at as a pre-rookie card. You may call the 1914 card as a minor league card. In the Sporting News card, Ruth can be seen with the Boston Red Sox and is featured in a pitching pose. According to PSA, the card is rare as there are just 29 versions of the card that have been graded with the last sale being that of a PSA graded version 7 which netted $700k. This was back in 2017.
T-206 Honus Wagner #497 1909
The T-206 Honus Wagner also referred to as the ‘monalisa’ of baseball cards is in all probability the most widely recognized baseball card. Even the non-collectors will agree with that! The card is pretty rare and that is because the production of the T-206 Honus Wagner was pulled off by American Tobacco during its early run itself. The jury is still out on the reason for this removal. The most popular ones in circulation are- Compensation was not adequate or Wagner did not want to be related to a smoking product. Sale of every T-206 broke the previous record with the most recent one being sold for more than 3 million dollars back in 2016. So, it is safe to say that the card is the most expensive of the lot!
Goudey Babe Ruth #53 1933
The 1933 R319 or Goudey set that features Babe Ruth on four cards which are #53, #144, #149, and #188 points out to the popularity of the player back at that time. The #53 is the set’s rarest, followed by #149, as stated by PSA. #144 is more easily available as it was double printed! While all these four baseball cards are worth a lot of money if in a high grade condition, rarity makes #53 the most pricey of them all. Although PSA has priced the card at $500k on 9 graded card version, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if it sold for more than a million dollars in a booming card market!
T204 Ramly Walter Johnson 1909
The 1909 T204 Ramly Walter Johnson baseball card is the toughest among the early tobacco cards and is distributed by Ramly Cigarettes. There are approximately about 22 graded cards per player in the set as according to PSA reports there are just 2700 graded cards in a card set of 121. Of the set, Walter Johnson is undoubtedly the most valuable! With 31 graded versions that are in circulation, a PSA version 8 of the card was sold for $132,000 during early 2018. Collectors are you listening?
T206 - Joe Doyle Error Card 1909
What if we told you that an error on a baseball card actually increased the value of the card? This happened with the 1909 T206 Joe Doyle baseball card! Doyle was a New York Highlanders pitcher in the American League. He was one of the best at the time. However, he lasted only 5 seasons with just 22 wins. The T206 baseball card that featured him was supposed to say “American” on its bottom front but there was an error and the card read “Nat’l” instead. Funny or did you say money? With less than 10 known card variations, the most recent sale was that of a PSA version 3 of the card which garnered over $400k!
Bowman Mickey Mantle #253 1951
Although, it was the 1952 Topps card that came to limelight, the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle is Mickey Mantle’s true rookie card! Featuring breathtakingly beautiful color portraits, the 1951 Bowman set is the favorite of many. The Yankee is featured in an unforgettable pose while the clear blue sky and clouds provide a wonderful background. A high series card, Mick’s rookie card is known to suffer from some centering and print issues. There are about 1500 graded rookie cards but only 9 PSA 9 and 1 PSA 10 graded version. One PSA 9 graded version was sold for $750k in April of 2018.
E90 Amer Caramel - Joe Jackson 1909
The 1909 E90 American Caramel baseball cards were produced for kids and featured inside packs of caramel candy. E90 set was probably the most common of the earliest gum and candy cards which were referred to as E cards in the hobby. Of the entire set, the Joe Jackson card is considered to be the most valuable and this is not just because of rarity but for most parts because of the “shoeless” Joe Jackson! 80 of these have been graded but most are low grade versions. Back in 2016, PSA version 8 of Joe Jackson was sold for a sum of $667k in an auction.
Goudey Joe Dimaggio #274 1938
The 1938 Goudey Joe Dimaggio baseball card is known as the true rookie card of the player. The players are featured in a cartoon pose. The set has two Dimaggio card, #250 and #274. The former comes without a cartoon background and the latter has a cartoon background. According to PSA, #274 is harder to come across. However, both cards are difficult to find in high grade versions. This 1938 baseball card was most recently sold in 2017 and garnered almost $300k! A higher grade version of this card would probably fetch something close to $500k!
Cracker Jack Ty Cobb #30 1915
The 1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb baseball card is a beautiful set which comes with a striking red background. These cards first came in circulation back in 1914 and were issued till 1915. They came in cracker jack boxes in 1914. The 1915 set was offered as a mail in program because of which 1914 became a rarity. According to PSA, there are 4500 graded versions of the card from 1914 and 12,000 from the next year’s set. The Ty Cobb is a beautiful one from 1914 set and is among the most popular issues of Cobb! The latest sale was of $144k and was sold in 2018.
Bowman Willie Mays #305 1951
The 1951 Bowman Willie Mays is considered to be the true rookie card of the player and is among the most popular cards of Mays. This “The Say Hey Kid” was undoubtedly one of the all-rounders when it came to basketball. He finished with 660 home runs and also won a record tying 12 gold glove awards. The 1951 Mays baseball card set is definitely a landmark. The set contains the rookie cards of Mays (#305) and Mantle. As there are only 10 PSA 9 version of the Mays card, they are tough to come across! The card is estimated to have a value of about $500k!
Topps Hank Aaron #128 1954
All baseball fans here, remember Hank Aaron? His famous rookie card the demand for which remains high despite widespread availability is the 1945 Topps Hank Aaron (#128). According to PSA, there are about 3800 graded Aaron rookie cards. However, coming across a mint version of the card is a task! There are just 30 PSA version 9 and finding a mint version is a challenge, as there are only 2 Gem mints or PSA 10 and 30 PSA 9 versions existing today. Aaron is considered to be the true home run leader in the history of baseball by many and thus has a huge collector base. In 2012, a version 10 fetched $357k!
T206 Ty Cobb --Ty Cobb Back 1909
The T206 baseball card set featured four Ty Cobb cards and a variation is quite rare, rarer than the infamous T206 Honus Wagner card referred to as ‘holy grail’. The baseball card featured a portrait of Ty Cobb in beautiful watercolors. The card had an advertisement of Cobb’s own tobacco brand and it read “Ty Cobb- King of the Smoking Tobacco World” on the back. The Ty Cobb tobacco tins also included Wagner cards. There are just 18 graded versions of the particular card and back in February 2018, a sale fetched $408k.
T205 Gold Border Ty Cobb 1911
The American Tobacco Company released in 1911 following the release of the T206 baseball card set. While the T206 set often gets our attention, the T205 Gold Border Ty Cobb card set is also among the most popular pre-war and/or tobacco baseball card sets! The gold borders make coming across high grades cards quite tough. These cards are even more difficult to find than the T206 set with white borders. The Ty Cobb card is the most sought after card of this 1911 set. With just 33 graded PSA 6 versions and above, the card is indeed rare. No 9’s and 10’s are known to exist.
Goudey Nap Lajoie #106 1933
The very first sports card product which was packaged along with bubble gum in each pack is the Goudey set of 1933. The set comes with a classic look which makes collectors and fans go crazy! The 1933 Goudey set Ruth cards are in most probability known by all baseball fans but when it comes to rarity the Nap Lajoie (#106) is the rarest card of the set. Initially Lajoie was not even included in the set but because of fan outcry eventually led Goudey to produce it in 1934. The card was accessible only via a mail request to Goudey. PSA notes the Lajoie cards submitted for grading are less than a hundred. In case you have one with you, it is worth a lot of money. One version 9 garnered $144,000 in 2017.
Topps Roberto Clemente #164 1955
Roberto Clemente was undoubtedly the best ball player of his time and was popular as a humanitarian too. Clemente was an excellent and multi-faceted athlete and a consummate professional. He earned all star berths in 15 of the 18 professional seasons he played in and has 3000 hits to his name. Let us not forget the 12 gold glove awards and 4 four batting championships. His career was, however, cut short because of a tragic plane crash. He was just 38 at the time. All his cards are always in demand and the 1955 Topps set card or #164 is referred to as his rookie card. PSA 10 version which was a gem mint was sold for a whopping $432k back in 2012 at an auction.
N172 Old Judge- Cap Anson 1887
The N172 set was among the first tobacco cards to be ever produced. These cards came in packs of Gypsy Queen and Old Judge cigarette cartons and were issued from 1887 to 1890. The set is also popular as the largest baseball card sets ever produced as it has about 500 players and 3000 known variations. The Cap Anson card of the set is considered to be quite valuable and is also difficult to find with just 3 graded versions known to exist. A version 8 of the Anson card was sold for about $100k in 2016.
Leaf Jackie Robinson #79 1948
The Leaf card or #79 is known as the true rookie card of Robinson, the man who is also revered as a true hero of his time. Jackie Robinson’s legacy continues to live on and his cards are highly sought after. He broke the color barrier in major league baseball! The Leaf card of 1948 is sort of an oddity in the set which was the first set to be printed in color after World War 2. The set is also the only one issued by Leaf after the post war era. Although a classic, the card is not as rare as some other shirt printed issues of the set, with Satchel Paige being an example. There are about 1000 graded ones but just 50 or so are version 8 or higher! You may find a lower graded version for about $1000.
Topps Willie Mays #261 1952
The first Topps card that featured Willie Mays was the 1952 one. The card is not Mays’ rookie card though! However, it is definitely the most popular baseball card. Ask the collectors if you want!! With over 1600 graded versions (according to PSA) the card is not that rare but is anyways quite scarcely found in mint condition. There are just 13 version 9 and only a single 10! Recent five years have seen monumental sales of high grade versions of the card. Back in 2017, 5 PSA 9 versions were sold, prices fluctuating between $235,000 to $478,000!
Play Ball - Ted Williams #92 1939
Another popular card that collectors would love to get their hands on is the 1939 Play Ball card featuring Ted Williams, the “Splendid Sprinter”. This card (#92) is also known as the true rookie card of Ted Williams. According to PSA, there are some 845 graded versions of the 1939 Williams Play Ball cards which is good news as the card may not be that difficult to find. However, there is a catch! There are just around 100 version 8 or higher cards. A mint version is most likely to get you 6 figures as according to estimates of PSA, a version 9 is not less than $200,000!
Topps - Pete Rose #537 1963
It is not necessarily a task to look for a Pete Rose rookie card but if you want a higher graded version you may face some challenges. The top blue border the 1963 Topps set comes with is not free from chipping. Pete Rose although could not make it to the hall of fame, he is still loved by many and collectors are ready to pay a huge sum for his rookie card as this particular card is undoubtedly a classic. A Gem Mint version sold for around $157k back in 2012 at an auction. In 2016, a version 9 card fetched $131k. If you just want to get hold of a rookie of Rose you may just have to spend around $1000 as there are many lower grade versions in circulation.
T206 - Eddie Plank 1909
The T206 Eddie Plank card is the most desirable baseball card, only after the “holy grail” Honus Wagner of the same set. The reason is that the Plank card is quite rare. It can’t be said with certainty why this particular card is so rare but many believe that it is due to poor printing plate or maybe because Plank was not much into tobacco! Both could have led to a manual removal of the said card. PSA has only graded 72 Plank cards and just one NM condition of the said card known to exist. According to the estimates of PSA a version 8 is almost worth $675k!
Topps Ernie Banks #94 1954
The 1954 Topps Ernie Banks baseball card is considered to be the player’s rookie card. In his primes, Banks was among the best and most feared hitters in the game circuit. He even earned back to back MVP awards between 1958 and 1959. When he retired, he had 512 home runs to his name. The 1952 Banks card is not scarce but coming across one in Mint condition is difficult. Of the almost 2000 graded cards, only 14 9 version exist and of these 14 just 2 are gem mint versions. Back in 2012, a version 10 was sold for about $142k!
Old Mill T210 - Joe Jackson 1910
The 1910 Old Mill T210 Joe Jackson card is indeed a pretty rare baseball card. Joe Jackson known as the “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the T210 card set is also referred to as the “red borders” set! These cards came in packs of Old Mill cigarettes. This humongous set has over 600 cards. The cards featured minor leaguers of the time. The Jackson card featured the player while he was on the New Orleans Pelicans which was a minor league team. Jackson T210 cards are among the most rare pre-war era cards and only few are known to exist.