1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card: A Closer Look

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When we talk about dominant pitchers of the 1960s, Sandy Koufax’s name immediately comes to mind
 
His career ended early due to injury problems, but from 1961 to 1966, Koufax was lights out. 
 
Some baseball fans wonder what might have been if he hadn’t retired at the age of 30.
 
Despite his short career, card collectors continue to drool over his early Topps baseball cards.
 
And the 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card, to this day, remains one of the hottest vintage cards in the hobby. 
 
As follows, we’ll examine the Koufax rookie card in detail, taking a closer look at value, scarcity, and future investment potential. 

Sandy Koufax As A Player

Sandy Koufax had a short-lived career, pitching for twelve seasons, all as a Brooklyn Dodger (later with the Los Angeles Dodgers).

Koufax's career was unfortunately cut short at the age of 30 due to arthritis pain.

He got his start early, entering the big leagues at the age of 19 in 1955 as a 'bonus baby'.

A term given to those players that earned a large signing bonus, which prevented the player from being sent to the minor leagues. 

Due to not being able to perfect his craft in the minors, Koufax was a bit out of his element to begin his career, struggling with control.

topps-prospect-koufax

It wasn't until 1961 that Koufax started to excel, as he improved his conditioning and pushed management for more playing time

In 1961, Koufax posted an 18–13 record and led the league with 269 strikeouts. He set a record that was before held by star pitcher and legend Christy Mathewson. 

This would be the start of a string of domination for Koufax that spanned seven years (1961-1967).

Over seven years, he amassed three Cy Young awards, one MVP award, four years as strikeout leader, four no-hitters, and one perfect game.

"Trying to hit Sandy Koufax was like trying to drink coffee with a fork."  
- Willie Stargell

He finished his career with 165 wins and 87 losses, an unbelievable .655 win/loss ratio.

Even more impressive - his World Series ERA in eight games was an unbelievable 0.95, even despite missing a game because of Yom Kippur.  

Koufax and fellow hurler Don Drysdale were one of the most dominant 1-2 pitching tandems in baseball history, leading the Dodgers to three World Series victories.

koufax-drysdale

Most players with such a short career might never reach the Hall Of Fame. But Koufax's dominance over seven years was enough to cement his legacy as one of the best in baseball history.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall in 1972, enshrined as the youngest player (36) ever to reach the highly coveted Hall Of Fame. 

Sandy Koufax Rookie Card - A Legendary Topps Design

The 1955 Topps Baseball set is one of the best issues of all Topps Baseball card sets.

The oversized cards were the first horizontal cards for Topps. Highlights included rookie cards of both Sandy Koufax and HOF slugger Roberto Clemente.

The front of the 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card features a young Koufax portrait.

55-koufax

Next to his face is what appears to be Koufax standing in a kneeling pose, but I've always thought it might not be him?  

But, the player in the image has no team identification, which makes sense. Koufax didn't enter the league until 1955 when Topps produced the cards.

So the photo might be some sort of stock player image and not Koufax. If anyone has any further details on this, I'd love to know. 

The backs of the 1955 Topps cards are among my favorites, with a nice player bio, stat lines, and a Trivia question.

koufax-rookie

Of course, Koufax had no 1954 stat line, but Topps provides an excellent background for Koufax. The text discusses his large signing bonus and great collegiate career at the University of Cincinnati

How Much Is A Sandy Koufax Rookie Card Worth?

Sandy Koufax's official rookie card is his 1955 Topps #123 baseball card.  There are only three Gem Mint (PSA 10) Koufax copies in existence with no historical sales records. 

But, a Mint copy of the card (PSA 9) is worth, on average, between $350,000 to $400,000. 

Lower graded copies can be found for less, depending on your budget.  One step down to a PSA 8 (NM-MT) is a big difference in cost, with average auction prices reaching over $25,000.

koufax-psa

The good news is that the Koufax rookie card remains in reach for most collectors in lower grades.

For example, a PSA Sandy Koufax Topps Rookie card on average sells for around $750.

How Rare Is The Sandy Koufax Rookie Card?

In total, PSA has graded more than 9,000 copies of the Koufax rookie card.  

Note that this number doesn't even include any graded copies from Beckett or SGC or the existing raw (ungraded population).

Why Are Rookie Cards More Valuable?

As noted before, PSA has graded only three PSA 10 copies of Koufax's rookie card.

PSA 9 Koufax Rookie cards are also quite scarce, with only 23 copies; PSA 8 copies (NM-MT) are also tough to find, with ~250 copies graded by PSA. 

The bulk of the existing Koufax rookie card population runs from PSA 3 through PSA 7, with, no surprise, more of the cards available at the lower grades. 

koufax-psa-grade

Hence, it's clear that despite the age of the card, now over 65+ years old, the card is readily available, with a reasonably significant supply. 

How Much Is An Autographed Sandy Koufax Rookie Card Worth?

Autographed copies of the Koufax rookie card are available on eBay or at auction, evidence that Koufax has been a somewhat liberal signer over the years.

Koufax is still alive, so his autograph isn't in Mantle, DiMaggio, or Ted Williams territory, but it is still a hotly demanded signature.

koufax-rc-auto

Not everyone loves getting expensive rookie cards with an autograph.

Still, it’s something that I enjoy. Especially if the rookie card in question has a plentiful supply, such as with the 1955 Topps Koufax card.

Based on my research, an autographed Koufax rookie card will run from around $3K to $5K for lower to mid graded condition cards. The value is also dependent on the quality of the signature. 

It is annoying when there's an autograph on top of a facsimile auto as there is on the 1955 Topps cards.

But for a card this awesome, I could overlook this fact.  

What's The Investment Potential?

Despite the plentiful supply for the Koufax rookie card, I still like the card's long- term investment potential

This doesn't mean that a poor condition Koufax with pinholes is going to quadruple in value over the next year.

Why?

It's hard to support the investment case for cards with such large existing supplies, such as the Koufax RCLower graded copies will not likely experience the same appreciation potential as rarer, high-grade copies.

If you can afford it, I generally recommend opting for higher graded copies. But, that might be out of reach for most collectors, given that PSA 8 Koufax rookie cards are selling for over $30,000.

So, let's say you have $4K to spend, and you have it earmarked for a Koufax rookie card. Should you buy a PSA 6 (EX-MT) copy or a Good to VG (PSA 2 to PSA 3) Autographed Koufax baseball card?

This is all preference, but for me, I choose the Autograph card. 

Koufax is up there in age and not an active signer any longer, so the autographed rookie cards have a mostly established supply.

They are, of course, rarer than any of his base rookie cards, so that's why I recommend opting for rarer, harder-to-find autographed Koufax copies.

Sandy Koufax Rookie Card For Sale on eBay

1955 TOPPS SANDY KOUFAX ROOKIE #123 PSA 4 FRESHLY GRADED CENTERED GRAIL HOF RC

$2,198.00  
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1955 TOPPS SANDY KOUFAX #123 ROOKIE EX BROOKLYN DODGER. Solid Corners & Borders

$3,500.00  
End Date: Saturday May-21-2022 15:35:14 EDT
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Sandy Koufax 1955 Topps #123...BVG 3.5

$1,200.00  

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1955 Topps #123 Sandy Koufax RC EX+ X2449264

$2,212.00  

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