1955 Topps Sandy Koufax Rookie Card: A Closer Look

55-koufaxWhen we talk about dominant pitchers of the 1960s, Sandy Koufax’s name immediately comes to mind

His career was cut short due to injury problems, but from 1961 to 1966, Koufax was lights out for six years. 

Although some baseball fans wonder what might have been if he hadn’t retired at the age of 30, card collectors have continued 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 overall value, scarcity, along with our take on future investment potential. 

Sandy Koufax As A Player

Sandy Koufax had a short-lived career, pitching for twelve seasons, all with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, before retiring 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 said 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, as he struggled with control.

topps-prospect-koufax

It wasn't until 1961 that Koufax truly 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, setting a record that had been previously 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), in which he amassed three Cy Young awards, one MVP award, four years as the league's leader in strikeouts, 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. Most players with such a short career might never reach the Hall Of Fame but Koufax's standout performance for seven years was enough to cement his legacy.

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

Front And Back Of The Koufax Rookie Card

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

The oversized cards were also the first horizontal cards for Topps, featuring the Koufax Rookie card and the rookie card of HOF slugger Roberto Clemente.

The front of the 1955 Topps Sandy Koufax rookie card features a young Koufax portrait with what is supposedly Koufax standing in a kneeling pose, but I've always thought it might not be him?  

Oddly enough, the player in the image has no team identification, which makes sense since 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. 

55-koufax

The backs of the 1955 Topps cards are among my favorites, with a nice player bio, stat lines, and a Trivia question. Of course, Koufax had no 1954 stat line, but Topps provides an excellent background for Koufax, illustrating his large signing bonus and great collegiate career at the University of Cincinnati. 

koufax-rookie

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. 

However, 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.

The good news is that the Koufax rookie card remains in reach for most collectors in lower grades; for example, a PSA on average sells for around $750.

koufax-psa

How Rare Is The Sandy Koufax Rookie Card?

In total, PSA has amazingly 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 previously, PSA has graded only three PSA 10 copies of Koufax's rookie card. PSA 9's 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 occasionally 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 reasonably plentiful supply, such as with the Koufax.

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

I will also note that it can also be 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 certainly overlook this fact. 

Topps PROJECT 2020 - 1955 Sandy Koufax by Ben Baller Brooklyn Dodgers Autograph

$100.00  
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Sandy Koufax 2014 Topps Finest Autograph Issue. SP #98/100 (1955 RC) Dodgers HOF

$1,695.95  
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SANDY KOUFAX AUTOGRAPH 1955 Topps Ceramic BASEBALL CUT SIGNATURE PSA NM-MT8 Auto

$299.00  
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Topps Project 2020 #99 1955 Sandy Koufax by Tyson Beck Blue Autograph 88/250

$249.00  
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Sandy Koufax Autograph Graded 10 Signature 1955 Topps Rookie

$8,000.00  
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What's The Investment Potential?

Despite the plentiful supply for the Koufax rookie card, I still like the card's long- term investment potential. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that a poor condition Koufax with pin holes is going to quadruple in value over the next year.

Because, when you have a card with a large supply (such as the Koufax RC), even with robust demand, it's likely that lower graded versions will not see the same appreciation potential. 

So, I would generally recommend opting for higher graded copies. Still, that might be totally out of reach for some collectors, especially when PSA 8 Koufax rookie cards are selling for nearly $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 are mostly set in terms of existing supply.

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

Sandy Koufax Rookie Card For Sale on eBay

1955 Topps Baseball Complete Set (1-210) Sandy Koufax PSA 4 Clemente PSA 5

$17,999.99  
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1955 TOPPS RC ORIGINAL BVG 2.5 SANDY KOUFAX PERFECT CENTERED NO CREASES #123

$1,500.00  
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1955 Topps Sandy Koufax 123 PSA 6 Dodgers 10687

$6,900.00  
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1955 Topps Sandy Koufax PSA 7 Dodgers #123 10487

$13,000.00  
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1955 Topps Sandy Koufax PSA 6 #123 Dodgers 10295

$7,300.00  
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1955 Topps Sandy Koufax 123 PSA 8 o/c Dodgers 10268

$9,000.00  
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1955 Topps Sandy Koufax 123 PSA 7 Dodgers 10415

$14,900.00  
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1955 Topps Sandy Koufax 123 PSA 6 Dodgers 10627

$6,000.00  
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