1974 Topps Baseball Cards: Most Valuable (Top Picks)

ryan-topps-74The 1974 Topps Baseball card set certainly has that early seventy’s vibe. 

The set’s white borders are accentuated with colorful flags on each card’s top and bottom.

However, from a design perspective, the set is one of my least favorite designs of all the 1970’s Topps baseball card sets.

The set is chock full of the stars of the era, including Nolan Ryan, Johnny Bench, and Hank Aaron. 

The set features Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield’s rookie card; however, the remaining rookie card class is weak.

Subsets throughout the set include a dedication to Hank Aaron (cards 1-6), team card issues, manager card, statistical leaders, all-star cards, and the ever-popular four-panel rookie cards. 

PSA has a card by card gallery, which is an excellent resource for viewing the 1974 set in its entirety. 

Here we explore the most valuable cards in the 1974 Topps Baseball card set. 

Our Top Picks - 1974 Topps Baseball Cards

Best Overall Value: Hank Aaron #1

Best Investment Potential: Dave Winfield (RC) #456

Best Overall Design: Carlton Fisk #105

Most Underrated Card:  Dave Parker (RC) #252

1974 Topps - Most Valuable Cards

We've narrowed down the most valuable cards in the 1974 Topps Baseball set, sorting values from the PSA SMR Price guide, using PSA 9 or Mint values. 

If you want to buy any of the cards listed here, just realize that anything less than a PSA 9 is quite affordable, either graded or ungraded.

1974 Topps Hank Aaron #1

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Hank Aaron leads off the 1974 Topps set; Topps decided to create a tribute card for Aaron (although it is Aaron’s base card in the set) to celebrate his achievement the previous year in breaking the all-time home run record. 

Note that cards #2 through #6 in the set continue the Aaron tribute, showcasing four of Aaron’s previous Topps baseball cards. Here is card #2 in the set. 

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The #1 Hank Aaron card in PSA 9 condition sells for ~$2500, and only around 120 copies have been graded, making it one of the harder-to-find cards in the set in higher grades.

Good news!  The 1974 Topps Aaron sells for less than $100 ungraded on eBay in mid to higher grades. 

1974 Topps Johnny Bench #10

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One thing that is quite noticeable in the 1974 Topps set is the graininess of the photos. This card of the great Johnny Bench is no exception.

However, it’s still an excellent shot of Bench at the plate, in a season where he knocked in 33 home runs and 129 RBI’s, all while finishing third in MVP voting and winning one of ten overall gold gloves in his career!

Simply amazing.

Bench’s 1974 Topps card is relatively affordable if ungraded, but PSA 9 graded copies average over $500 at auction. 

1974 Topps Nolan Ryan #20

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Some say that Nolan Ryan is somewhat overrated, but even if we accept it as truth, there’s no denying that Ryan chalked up a great season in 1974.

Ryan went 22-16, leading the league with 367 strikeouts while finishing third overall in Cy Young award voting.

His 1974 Topps card in PSA 9 condition sells on average for around $1000.

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1974 Topps Jim Palmer #40

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Remember when I spoke of those grainy images? Here's another example.

Topps got some incredible action shots throughout the set, but the cameras produced some low-quality images. 

Here we have HOF pitcher Jim Palmer in the midst of hurling a pitch to home plate. 

However, 1974 was a challenging year for Palmer as he faced arm issues which shut him down for eight weeks during the season, leading to one of the most disappointing seasons in his career. 

PSA 9 copies of Palmer's 1974 Topps card run for around $200.

1974 Topps Steve Carlton #95

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Here we see the legendary southpaw, Steve Carlton, in mid pitching wind up. Delivering what might have been another strikeout, on his way to landing fourth all-time for strikeouts of all pitchers in history. 

His 74 Topps card is mostly affordable if not graded in high grade, but a PSA 9 will set you back around $400. However, grab an ungraded one in nice condition all day for less than $50 on eBay

1974 Topps Carlton Fisk #105

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One of the cool things about the 1974 set is that some cards feature horizontal images, such as this Carlton 'Pudge' Fisk card.

Here's Fisk, while still a member of Red Sox, on his third major league baseball card and the one I designated as the Best Overall Design in the set.

1974 Topps Reggie Jackson #130

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The Reggie Jackson card in the set could have easily won the best overall design. 

I love the colors here and the huge follow through shot of Mr. October. 

Jackson had a solid year in 1974, finishing fourth in MVP voting, clobbering 29 homers and 93 RBIs, while also leading the A's to their third consecutive World Series victory.

1974 Topps Al Kaline #215

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Kaline wouldn't typically sit near the top of the higher value cards, even though he's a HOFer and had a great career.

However, the Kaline card is tougher to find in higher grades, as PSA has graded less than 100 copies in PSA 9 or PSA 10 grades. 

A PSA 9 copy sells for around $200, which isn't a bad value, considering the lower population. 

1974 Topps Willie McCovey (Washington) #250

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Topps listened to rumors that the San Diego Padres would morph into the Washington Nationals, and thus, the fifteen Padres cards in the set have both Nationals and Padres variations. 

The 1974 Topps McCovey Washington Nationals variation is the most valuable of the bunch and is tougher to find in high grades; PSA 9 copies sell for a few hundred dollars. 

1974 Topps Dave Parker (RC) #252

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While Dave Winfield's rookie card is the most valuable in the set, Dave Parker's rookie card is a close second. 

Some think that Parker should be in the HOF; he hit .290, with 339 home runs and nearly 1500 RBIs over his career. 

His 1974 Topps rookie card isn't hugely valuable in lower grades, but a PSA 9 copy sells for around $600.

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1974 Topps Mike Schmidt #283

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The second year card for Phillies slugger Mike Schmidt shows him at batting practice ready to smoke one out of the park. 

A PSA 9 sells for around $750; notably a Gem Mint condition (PSA 10)  copy just sold for over $40,000 at auction!

1974 Topps Pete Rose #300 

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Pete Rose did whatever he could do to get on base.

And here's Charlie Hustle dropping a bunt. 

Super cool shot, and it's not a super valuable card, but a high grade copy is worth around eight hundred bucks.

1974 Topps Jim Kaat #440 

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Kaat might very well be one of the most underrated ballplayers of all time

He won 283 games, with a 3.45 ERA and won 16 gold glove awards!

Kaat's 74 Topps card is hard to find in high grade - PSA has graded less than 35 copies between PSA 9 and 10.

So expect to pay close to $200 for a PSA 9 Jim Kaat 1974 Topps card.

1974 Topps Dave Winfield (RC) #456

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Dave Winfield's rookie card is the most valuable in the 1974 Topps Set. 

Winfield was a stud, the perfect five tool player through and through, he finished his career with 465 home runs, while winning 12 All-Star berths and seven Gold Glove awards. 

There are close to 500 graded copies from PSA 9 to PSA 10.

A PSA 9 copy of Winfield's rookie card runs about $1500.

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1974 Topps Steve Garvey #575

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I love this horizontal card from the set and the fourth card for Dodger's slugger Steve Garvey.

I always thought that Garvey would make the Hall of Fame, but voters never gave him the nod, despite Garvey being one of the best in the game from 1974 to 1980.

His 74 Topps card is plentiful like every card in the set, but higher-graded copies are tougher to find. PSA 9 copies sell for $400, with less than 100 graded by PSA.

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1974 Topps Ken Griffey Sr. (RC) #598

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The four-player rookie cards from the 1974 Topps set didn't produce any HOF rookie cards, although this Ken Griffey Sr. rookie card is the most valuable of the four player rookies. 

Notably, the others are pretty limited in star power, with other highlights being Bill Madlock (RC) #600, Frank White (RC) #604 and Frank Tanana (RC) #605.

Most think of Griffey Sr as just being Ken Griffey Jr.'s day, but he was a damn good player in his own right, and batted .296 over his career, with 152 home runs.

PSA 9 copies of Griffey Sr's rookie card can typically be found for less than $200.

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Investment Potential Of The 1974 Topps Set

I view the long-term investment potential for the 1974 Topps Baseball set as somewhat underwhelming. 

Like the 1976 Topps set, the rookie class here is lacking, with only one HOF rookie card - Dave Winfield.

There are a few other rookie cards of note - Dave Parker, Ken Griffey Sr, Bill Madlock, to name a few.  But not enough to make worthwhile longer-term investments for any vintage baseball card collectors. 

Key star player cards from the set, such as Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt, and Nolan Ryan, will remain attractive long-term investments in PSA 9 grades or above.

Still, I’d avoid any low-grade copies of these cards as there are just too many out there to warrant any serious investment dollars. 

Overall Investment Rating: 5.5 out of 10

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