The 1976 Topps Baseball card set is a significant change from the prior year’s colorful, trippy-looking cards.
The set has clear white borders with a two-tone color scheme, matching the colors of the player’s uniform.
Not exactly one of my favorite designs among the Topps sets, but I’ve seen a lot worse.
The set contains all the stars of the day, guys like George Brett, Pete Rose, Robin Yount, Thurman Munson, and even the last card of Hank Aaron.
However, the rookie class here leaves a lot to be desired, headed up by HOF reliever Dennis Eckersley.
Subsets in the issue include Record Breakers (#1 to #6), All-Time All-Stars (#341 to #350), and the classic four-player Rookie Prospects (#588 to #599).
Here we explore the most valuable cards in the 1976 Topps Baseball set.
Our Top Picks - 1976 Topps Baseball
Best Overall Value: Jim Rice #340
Best Overall Design: Dennis Eckersley (RC) #98
Most Underrated Card: Ron Guidry (RC) #599
1976 Topps - Most Valuable Cards
We've narrowed down the most valuable cards in the 1976 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.
1976 Topps Hank Aaron Record Breaker #1
One of the last playing day cards from Hank Aaron (in addition to his #550 card from the set), the Record Breaker subset features stars from the day that have a place in the record books.
Unfortunately for Aaron, 1976 was a rather forgettable season, as he held on a bit too long in the majors.
1976 Topps George Brett #19
The second-year card for the great George Brett shows how Topps integrated its color scheme to coordinate with a player's jersey.
The Brett card in Mint (PSA 9) condition sells for over $5,000. Notably, the Brett card is tough to find in high grade, as many copies have centering issues.
No PSA 10 Brett cards exist, and PSA has graded only 28 PSA 9 George Brett cards. Given the scarcity of the PSA 9 Brett, I like it as the card with the best investment potential in the set.
1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley (RC) #98
Dennis Eckersley's career was an exciting ride - he went from stud starter in his first several years in the league, to a struggling starter, before transforming into a lights-out reliever in 1987 at 32 years old.
His 1976 Topps card is his official rookie card and is the most valuable card in the set. PSA 9 copies fetch over $2500 and less than 200 Mint copies exist.
However, any collector can secure a lower grade Eck rookie for a lot less; even a PSA 8 copy today sells for less than $200.
I also nominated this card as the Best Overall Design in the 1976 Topps set. A cool color scheme, and young Eck make this one of the more attractive cards in the set.
1976 Topps Pete Rose #240
Pete looks upset on this card; maybe someone spotted him talking to his bookie?
1976 was a great year for Rose; he batted .323, with 215 hits, finishing fourth overall in MVP voting.
The Rose card in PSA 9 condition goes for ~$2000.
PSA has graded less than 150 copies in Mint condition.
Want a cheap one?
1976 Topps Johnny Bench #300
This card embodies how Johnny Bench lived his career in the major leagues; enveloped in a cloud of dust, leaving his mark as one of the tougher, hard-working and most talented catchers to ever play the game.
Johnny Bench PSA 9 copies sell for around $500, which feels about right, given that there are close to 300 PSA 9 Bench graded copies in existence.
1976 Topps Rick Miller #302
Uh, who? Rick Miller? Miller lasted fifteen seasons in the big leagues, and he had a decent career.
But the Miller card has value due to the scarcity in higher grades. A PSA 9 copy just sold at auction for over $800. There are less than 20 PSA 9 copies of the Miller 1976 Topps baseball card.
1976 Topps Nolan Ryan #330
Nolan Ryan led the league in losses in 1976 (18), while also leading the league in strikeouts...and walks.
The 1976 Topps Ryan card is sort of a boring pose, featuring him in what appears to be a dark dugout.
Probably one of my least favorite poses on any Nolan Ryan card.
A PSA 9 Ryan is worth $800 - there are less than 300 graded copies.
1976 Topps Jim Rice #340
The second-year card for the great Jim Rice features that cool Topps All-Star Rookie trophy we've all come to love.
PSA has graded ~100 PSA 9 copies of the Jim Rice card, and its sells for around $600.
I nominated the Rice 1976 Topps card as the Best Overall Value in the set, given the lack of supply at the PSA 9 grade and the affordability relative to other big stars in the set.
1976 Topps Johnny Briggs #373
Wait, what? Johnny who?
The Johnny Briggs card in the set is one of the tougher ones to find in higher grade - PSA has only graded 33 PSA 9 (Mint) and PSA 10 (Gem Mint) copies.
Even in PSA 9 condition, however, the card is worth only around $100.
1976 Topps Mike Schmidt #480
The fourth-year card for Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt features a grainy shot of Schmidt after hitting the ball, or maybe even, gasp, bunting?
1976 was an excellent year for Schmidt; he was the leading home run hitter, won a Gold Glove award for his work at third base, and earned an all-star berth.
His 1976 Topps card in PSA 9 condition goes for ~$400 and PSA has graded roughly 200 copies.
1976 Topps Reggie Jackson #500
Remember how I told you about that Topps team color scheme? Well, here we are with yellow and green in full effect.
Reggie has his super stylish aviator sunglasses on in this pic, trying to keep out those rays from the sun at the Oakland Coliseum.
The Reggie in PSA 9 condition sells for around $800, and PSA has graded over 200 copies.
1976 Topps Hank Aaron #550
The last official playing day card for the great Hank Aaron.
Unfortunately, Aaron went out on a rough note; in 1976, he batted just .229, with ten home runs, thus padding his all-time homerun total a bit but leaving the game well of the peak of his game.
The 1976 Topps Hank Aaron card in Mint (PSA 9) condition sells on average for less than $2000. Notably, PSA has graded only ~100 copies, making it a reasonably attractive investment, given the relative scarcity of the higher condition variations.
1976 Topps Joe Torre #585
Joe Torre was elected to the Hall Of Fame as a manager. Still, he was one heck of a player, earning nine all-star berths, and is considered one of the most valuable position players throughout his career.
While he might not have made it into the Hall on his playing career alone, his unbelievable winning record (2,326 wins) as a manager made his inclusion a no- brainer.
One might not expect the Torre 1976 Topps card to have much value. After all, it is his third to last playing day baseball card.
However, the card is tough to find in higher grades for some reason. PSA has graded less than 30 copies from between PSA 9 to PSA 10.
1976 Topps Ron Guidry (RC) #599
In his prime, Ron Guidry was one of the best pitchers in baseball.
In 1976, Guidry only pitched sixteen innings with the Yankees.
In 1977, Guidry found his groove, posting a 16-7 record, with a 2.82 ERA.
And in 1978, Guidry put up one of the best pitching seasons on record, with a 25-3 record, 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts and an unbelievable .946 WHIP, while winning the Cy Young award that season.
Unfortunately, injuries held back the potential for Guidry, leading to a somewhat early retirement and a track record that fell shy of HOF potential.
His 1976 Topps Rookie Card features three other players who didn't do much in the big leagues.
In PSA 9 condition, the Guidry rookie is worth around $400, which is a pretty good price considering PSA has graded less than 130 copies.
1976 Topps Tom Seaver #600
A later year card of the late Tom Seaver.
1976 was a great year for Seaver, as he won the Cy Young award, posting a 22-9 record, with a 2.38 ERA and 235 Strikeouts.
It's an interesting shot, as I'm not quite sure where this photo was taken, as it most certainly isn't Shea Stadium.
This is a relatively affordable card in even mid grades, but a PSA 9 Seaver is worth around $250.
Investment Potential Of The 1976 Topps Set
I think the 1976 Topps set has good potential, but the set doesn't really get me super excited.
The rookie class here is rather dull; even Dennis Eckersley's rookie card doesn't excite me.
Rookie cards, however, from famous Yankee players Ron Guidry and even Willie Randolph probably deserve more attention.
If considering the 1976 Topps Baseball set as an investment, I would stick with stars or rookies in high grade, since there is an ample supply of anything under PSA 9 or PSA 10.
Some stars in PSA 9 condition can be found for under $500, which I feel is a pretty good investment for collectors.
Given the massive existing supply, any ungraded stars or rookies from the set in low to mid-grade aren't likely to appreciate.