20 Most Valuable Topps Baseball Rookie Cards Of The 1970s

January 2, 2023

twenty-most-valuable-rookies

During the 1970s, there was an uptick in the production of baseball cards. Topps, the only licensed baseball card issuer at the time, was at the forefront of this trend. 

Kids were still the target customer, but adults started to become more fascinated with the hobby.

Some of the Topps baseball card sets from the 1970s are among collector favorites. And many big-name Hall Of Fame players had their first issue card released during the decade. 

This post will examine the twenty most valuable Topps baseball rookie cards from the 1970s. Including iconic rookie cards from the likes of George Brett, Mike Schmidt, and Dave Winfield.

More...

This list is ranked by value in descending order. I used recent PSA 9 comps to compare deals.

Remember, the condition is everything. Many cards were produced during the 1970s and weren't well taken care of.

Thus, there is a premium for higher-condition cards, especially in condition-sensitive sets, such as 1971 Topps.

The good news for collectors is that most cards on this list in lower to mid-grade are quite affordable.

1. 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $8,000

schmidt-rc

Mike Schmidt's 1973 Topps rookie card is the most valuable rookie card of the decade. Schmidt is one of the best third basemen to play the game, slugging 548 home runs over the course of his career.

The cool thing about his rookie card is that it features another solid player in Ron Cey. Cey isn't a Hall Of Famer, but he was a six-time all-star and had over 300 home runs.

There are less than 10,000 PSA-graded copies of Mike Schmidt's rookie card, yet less than 350 have earned a PSA 9 (Mint) grade. PSA 9 copies of Schmidt's rookie card average about $8,000 at auction

I can't recommend anything less than a PSA 9 Schmidt grade for investment purposes. But collectors looking for a Schmidt rookie can do for under a few hundred dollars in low to mid grades

2. 1975 Topps George Brett Rookie Card #228

ESTIMATED PSA 9 VALUE: $5,000

brett-rookie

George Brett was one of the best pure hitters of his era, consistently finishing near the top of the league in batting average and on-base percentage. He was also a solid defensive player and was named to the All-Star team at three different positions.

Brett's 1975 Topps rookie card is the most valuable card in what is considered to be the crown jewel Topps set of the 70s. The vibrant colors make it one of the standout rookie cards in hobby. Centering and print issues are quite common, making it a challenge to find a perfectly centered card with sharp corners. 

Of the over 13,500 PSA graded copies of Brett's rookie card, less than 400 PSA 9 (Mint) copies exist. Average sales of PSA 9 Brett rookies have run around $5,000. I like the long term potential of the Brett in high grades, but given the huge supply, I wouldn't expect any big increases in lower to mid grade copies

3. 1975 Topps Robin Yount Rookie Card #223

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $3,500

yount-rc

While the George Brett rookie card is numero uno in the landmark 75 Topps set, the Robin Yount rookie card isn't too close behind.

Featuring a classic pose of the young Brewer in the funky colors that made the 75 Topps set a hit, Yount's rookie is one of the must-have rookie cards of the 70s.

Brett was a better hitter than Yount, but Yount was no slouch. He won league MVP twice and played both Shortstop and Centerfield with ease.

Of the over 10,000 Robin Yount rookie cards graded by PSA, only 300+ have a PSA 9 grade. Thus, long-term investors can consider this a solid investment, given the relative scarcity.

It won't be cheap; PSA 9 Yount rookies average $3,500 at auction. Although, lower grade copies are very affordable

4. 1971 Topps Bert Blyleven Rookie Card #26

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $3,500

blyleven rookie

In terms of HOF pitchers, Blyleven ranks towards the bottom of the pack, but his 1971 Topps rookie card is one of the most valuable rookie cards of the 70s.

The reason? The 1971 Topps set is one of the most condition sensitive sets of the decade. Its black borders are highly prone to chipping and border damage. Hence, finding any card in the set in high grade is a huge challenge.

Case in point - Blyleven's rookie card has over 3,000 PSA graded copies, yet only 21 have a PSA 9 grade, and only one has ever earned a PSA 10 (Gem-Mint) grade. 

Thus, collectors have bid up his higher grade rookie cards - the PSA 9 Blyleven rookie card has averaged between $3500 to $4000 at auction. 

5. 1971 Topps Ted Simmons Rookie Card #117

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $3,500

ted-simmons-rc

Like the Blyleven rookie from the set, the Ted Simmons is also a highly valued rookie card of a second tier HOF player in a very condition sensitive set.

Simmons was a good catcher, but not in the same echelon of Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench or Carlton Fisk. Still, he was a very good ballplayer and for several years was the best catcher in the National League

The Simmons 1971 Topps rookie card has less than 2,000 PSA graded copies with only 20 PSA 9 Mint copies. A PSA 9 Simmons rookie card sells for $3,500 to $4,000 at auction.

6. 1971 Topps Steve Garvey Rookie Card #341

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $3,500

garvey-rc

Steve Garvey has never earned a place in baseball's Hall of Fame, but he's probably one of the most deserving that has not been enshrined. Garvey was a star during his playing days with the Dodgers and Padres, named to ten All-Star teams, finishing with 4 gold gloves at first base, while also winning one World Series. 

Garvey's 1971 Topps rookie card, like all other cards in the set, is condition-sensitive, due to the black borders. Thus, high grade Garvey rookie cards are hard to come by.

Of the 3,000 or so PSA graded Garvey rookie cards, only 40 have been graded PSA 9, with only two PSA 10 copies. Given the scarcity of higher condition copies, a PSA 9 Garvey rookie card sells on average for between $3000 to $4000.

7. 1971 Topps Dusty Baker/Don Baylor Rookie Card #709

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $3,500

71-dusty-rc

The combined rookie card of former sluggers Don Baylor and Dusty Baker is a short print in the 1971 Topps set. The PSA population data shows the relative scarcity of the card; only 1500 copies with only ten earning a PSA 9 grade.

The scarcity has led to a surge in pricing, especially given the recent success of Dusty Baker as manager of the Astros. Auction data is sparse, given the scarcity of high-grade copies, but PSA 9 graded versions are worth $3500 to $4000.

8. 1970 Topps Thurman Munson Rookie Card #189

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $3,000

munson-rc

Thurman Munson's life ended tragically at 32, leaving the baseball world in shock. Munson has never been elected to the HOF, due to his shortened career, but Munson left a lasting impression on baseball fans.

Munson's 1970 Topps rookie card is the most valuable rookie card in the classic 1970 Topps set. Of the 5,550+ copies graded by PSA, over 100 have earned a PSA 9 (Mint) grade. 

I like the Munson rookie card in high grades for long term investment potential, but a PSA 9 sells for $3,000. If he does ever get elected to the HOF, it could be a potential catalyst for price appreciation. 

9. 1979 Topps Ozzie Smith Rookie Card #36

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $2,500

ozzie-smith-rc

The "Wizard" Ozzie Smith was the slickest fielding shortstop of his generation. A key to the success of the St Louis Cardinals teams of the 1980s and a perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner at his position. 

Smith's 1979 Topps Rookie card features Ozzie as a youngster with the San Diego Padres, where he would spend his first four seasons, before joining the St Louis Cardinals. Ozzie's rookie card is one of the most sought after baseball rookie cards of the 1970s.

Of the 11,000+ PSA graded copies, 700 have earned a PSA 9 (Mint) grade.  PSA 9 copies sell for between $2500 to $3000 at auction, likely an attractive price for one of the best shortstops ever. 

10. 1972 Topps Carlton Fisk Rookie Card #79

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $2,500

fisk-rc

Carlton Fisk was a star with both the Red Sox and White Sox. It is Boston where he was most well known; he played with the Red Sox for 11 seasons and was a key member of the team's 1975 World Series championship team. Fisk was an 11-time All-Star and considered one of baseball's greatest catchers.

I love his 1972 Topps rookie card, for its simple design, with retro lettering. The card is also the rookie card for Cecil Cooper, a very good player who finished his career with a .298 batting average and 241 home runs

Of the 7000+ PSA graded copies, over 300 have earned a PSA 9 grade, with recent PSA 9 copies selling for $2000 to $2500 at auction.

11. 1976 Topps Dennis Eckersley Rookie Card #98

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $2,000

eckersley-rc

"Eck" had a successful career as a starting pitcher with the Indians and Red Sox before completely reinventing himself as a lights-out closer.

Eckersley is most recognized for his dominance with the Oakland A's as a shutdown reliever, where he was a member of the Athletics' team that won the 1989 World Series. He is also one of only two players, along with John Smoltz, to have 20 wins and 50 saves in a season

Eck's rookie card is the most valuable card in the 1976 Topps set.

Of the 4500+ PSA graded copies, about 225 have earned a PSA 9, Mint grade, while less than ten have earned a perfect Gem-Mint PSA 10 grade. In PSA 9 grades, the Eck rookie sells for $2000 or more at auction. 

But, if you want to find a cheap Eckersley rookie, it won't be hard - for under $100, you can buy a PSA 5 to PSA 7 graded copy on eBay

12. 1974 Topps Dave Winfield Rookie Card #456

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $2000

winfieldrc

Dave Winfield was a BIG man, standing in at 6' 6", he actually starred as both a baseball and basketball player at the University of Minnesota. Winfield was such a prized athlete coming out of college, he was drafted by four teams in three different sports (basketball, baseball and football)!

Winfield played for six teams over the course of his 22-year career, but is most well known for his time with the Yankees. Winfield was a 12-time All-Star and won seven Gold Glove Awards for his great defensive play.  

Winfield's rookie card is the most valuable card in the 1974 Topps set

Out of roughly 8,000 PSA graded Dave Winfield rookie cards, about 500 have earned a PSA 9 grade. PSA 9 Winfield rookies average $2000 at auction. Collectors can buy a mid to higher grade (PSA 5 to PSA 7) copy on eBay for under $100

13. 1978 Topps Paul Molitor/Trammell Rookie Card #707

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $1,500

molitor-trammel

An autographed Molitor/Trammell RC

It's unusual to get the rookie cards of two HOF players on one card, but the Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell 1978 Topps rookie card does that. That along with two guys that never really amounted to much. 

It's by no means a rare card, but it is the most valuable card in the 1978 Topps set. PSA has graded 8,000+ copies of the Molitor/Trammell rookie card, and 600 have earned a PSA 9 Mint grade. 

Average auction sales of PSA 9 copies have run between $1250 to $1500.  

But, if you want a lower-grade copy, anything graded PSA 7 or lower sells for under $100

14. 1970 Topps Vida Blue Rookie Card #21

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $1,500

vida-blue-rc

Vida Blue had a powerful fastball and was known for his ability to strike out batters. Over the course of his career, he earned six All-Star selections and won three World Series championships. In his 1971 season, Blue won both the MVP and Cy Young awards, going 24-8, with a 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts. 

Despite his solid career stats, Blue has never earned his HOF stripes, likely due to later career imprisonment for drug possession

The 1970 Topps Vida Blue/Gene Tenace rookie card is a classic card and the second most valuable rookie card (behind Thurman Munson) in the set.  

Less than 1000 copies have been graded by PSA, with only 20 PSA 9 copies and no PSA 10 copies. Note that the gray borders of the 70 Topps cards tend to show wear easily

15. 1978 Topps Eddie Murray Rookie Card #36

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $1,250

murray-ex-exmt

Eddie Murray was a powerful hitter and a solid defensive first baseman. He was a seven-time All-Star, a three-time Gold Glove winner, and won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1977.

Murray's 1978 Topps rookie card is a classic card with a clean design, anchored with the 'Topps All-Star Rookie' trophy on the front. There are over 12,000 PSA-graded copies, so anything in lower to mid grades is affordable.

But, a PSA 9 copy, with over 800 graded copies, sells for between $1000 to $1300 at auction

16. 1975 Topps Gary Carter Rookie Card #620

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $1,200

carter-rc

Outside of the key rookies of George Brett and Robin Yount, the 1975 Topps set has some of the best four-player rookie cards from the decade.

Gary Carter is the most valuable of the four-player rookie cards, which also included key rookie cards of Jim Rice, Keith Hernandez, and Fred Lynn.

Over 4,000 copies have been graded by PSA, with less than 250 PSA 9 copies and less than 20 PSA 10 Gem-Mint copies.

Outside of the highest grades, the card sells for under $100 in PSA 7 or lower grades. However, a rarer PSA 9 copy runs for over $1000

17. 1971 Topps Jim Rice Rookie Card #616

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $1,100

jim-rice-rc

Jim Rice was a stud HOF outfielder that played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox. During his career, he won one MVP award and finished in the top five in an amazing five seasons. Rice was a key member of the Red Sox teams of the 1970s and 1980s and was one of the best hitters in the American League during his career

The Jim Rice 1975 Topps rookie card, along with Gary Carter's rookie, is one of the set's most valuable four-player rookie cards. It's not a hard-to-find card, as PSA has graded nearly 3500 copies.  A PSA 9 copy runs about $1000, but anyone can buy a copy of this card for under $100, even in nice condition

18. 1977 Topps Andre Dawson Rookie Card #473

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $900

77-topps-dawson-rc

Andre Dawson was known as "The Hawk" because of his ability to track down fly balls in the outfield. Dawson was an excellent defensive outfielder and was known for his strong arm, quick reactions, and excellent range.

He won eight Gold Glove awards during his career, which is given to the best defensive player at each position in each league. But Dawson wasn't just an incredidble outfielder; he had tremendous power and was considered one of the best sluggers of the 1980s. 

Dawson's 77 Topps rookie card is a popular choice among collectors building top rookie card sets from the 70s, but it was also produced in generous quantities. PSA has graded over 5,000 copies, with nearly 600 at a PSA 9 and 58 earning a perfect Gem-Mint PSA 10 grade. 

19. 1973 Topps Goose Gossage Rookie Card #174

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $750

gossage-rc

"Goose" Gossage was a hard thrower and one of the first traditional closers in major league baseball. He was one of the most feared pitchers of his days, and averaged nearly 8 strikeouts per 9 innings over the course of his career. 

His 1973 Topps rookie card is a must have rookie card of the 70s and it's very affordable. Lower to mid grade copies can be snapped up for less than $50, although higher grade copies in PSA 9 condition can run up to near $800 at auction. 

20. 1974 Topps Dave Parker Rookie Card #252

Estimated PSA 9 Value: $600

parker-rc

Dave Parker has never earned his place in the Hall Of Fame, but he is more than likely hall worthy. Parker, in his prime, was one of the best in the game. But his lack of Hall enshrinement hasn't stopped collectors from buying up his 1974 Topps rookie card. It's not that expensive and the least valuable of the twenty rookie cards on this list. So, it's a good target if you want to own a cheap rookie card for one of the best sluggers of the 70s and 80s.  And if he makes the hall someday (still a possibility), the card should see a resurgence in interest.

All Vintage Cards

About the author

All Vintage Cards is the number one destination for everything related to vintage baseball, basketball, hockey, and football cards. Our love of card collecting and in particular vintage sports cards drives our desire to inform others of the joys of collecting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Looking To Sell Your Collection?