A Guide To Investing In Satchel Paige Cards

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Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige was one of baseball’s most legendary pitchers and a trailblazer in that he was the first black baseball player to play in the American League. 

He played for an amazing 21 years in the Negro Leagues and was ready to call it quits at the age of 41, but then joined the Cleveland Indians in 1948.

While most baseball fans are familiar with the legend of Jackie Robinson, many aren’t as familiar with the story of Satchel Paige. 

It feels like collectors are finally starting to give Paige’s cards a bit more respect, as all of his baseball cards have increased significantly in value.

In this piece, we examine the baseball cards of Satchel Paige and help collectors determine whether his cards are still a good investment.

The Legacy Of Satchel Paige

Leroy ‘Satchel’ Paige was born in 1906 and obtained the nickname ‘Satchel’ as a seven year old working at the train station, carrying the luggage or ‘satchels’ of passengers.  

Unfortunately, due to racial segregation at the time, Paige would not be able to join Major League Baseball until 1948, after spending the majority of his playing career in the Negro Leagues.  

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He wasn’t the first of course, as Jackie Robinson would be the first player to break the racial barrier in baseball, but Paige’s legend as a dominant pitcher were well known when he joined the Cleveland Indians at the ripe old age of 42. 

The recording of stats at the time of Paige’s tenure in the Negro Leagues was spotty at best, but Baseball Reference has done a great job in sourcing available stats for the era.  

As this great article points out,  over the 1927-47 stretch that Satchel played in the Negro Leagues, his strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) was 8.1; only two Major League pitchers had a K/9 above 6 during this same period.

“I use my single windup, my double windup, my triple windup, my hesitation windup, my no windup. I also use my step-n-pitch-it, my submariner, my sidearmer, and my bat dodger. Man’s got to do what he’s got to do.”

-Satchel Paige on his arsenal of pitches that he had named

Although Paige was 42 years old when he officially joined Major League Baseball, he turned in a very respectable performance over his five years with the Cleveland Indians and St Louis Browns.  While he was primarily used a a reliever, he posted a 3.29 ERA, leaving fans to wonder what might have been if Paige had joined the majors during his prime. 

Paige was officially elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1971, becoming the first electee from the Committee on Negro Baseball Leagues.  His HOF plaque says that ‘Paige was one of the greatest stars to play in the Negro Leagues‘ and that ‘his pitching was a legend among major league hitters’. 

What Is Satchel Paige’s Rookie Card?

Satchel Paige’s rookie cards are considered to be his 1949 Leaf and 1949 Bowman cards.  There were no cards issued for Paige during his twenty-one year stint in the Negro Leagues; thus the two 1949 cards that were released during the later stages of his career were his first official baseball cards. 

1949 Leaf Satchel Paige #8

Paige’s 1949 Leaf issue is considered to be a ‘short print’ and one the tougher cards of his to find.  As of this writing, PSA has graded only 175 Paige cards from the set, which also makes this the most valuable card for Satchel.  


Even a Poor condition card is likely to set a collector back in excess of $10K, whereas anything in mid to higher grade will add significantly to the cost.  


While I view this card as a great investment given the scarcity, it’s out of reach for most collectors.  For anyone with a bigger budget, I’d expect this one to be a very strong longer term investment. 

1948 Leaf Satchel Paige rookie SP SGC 5!! Very rare!


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1949 Bowman Satchel Paige #224

Paige’s other first major league issue is considered to be his 1949 Bowman card. This one is a bit easier to find than the 1949 Leaf card.  PSA has graded over 900 copies, giving it about 7x the supply as compared to Paige’s Leaf card. 


A lower grade 1949 Bowman Paige card in Poor condition sells for nearly $2000. Mid grade copies of the card range from $3000 to $6000, all the way up to over $20,000+ for one in Near Mint condition.  There have only been nine PSA 9 copies of the 49 Bowman Paige, thus, leading to a value of close to $50,000.


While the Leaf card has more scarcity, I do believe the Paige Bowman card to be a very good long term investment.  It still fits a more recent narrative of bidding up successful Negro League HOFers, and would not expect this phenomenon to disappear.  

While in the past it may have been more of a challenge to buy into players which were not widely known or watched, the folklore, advanced stats and news flow provides a lot of support to the story of buying into Satchel Paige, as one of pitching’s all time greats.

A Look At Paige’s Other Baseball Cards

Paige was notably absent from Topps and Bowman baseball card sets issued in 1950, 1951 and 1952 but was included in the 1953 Topps set, marking his last official major league baseball card issue. 

1953 Topps Satchel Paige #220

The most affordable of the three major issue Paige cards (49 Leaf, 49 Bowman, 53 Topps), although the card has become very sought, maybe due to the affordability in relation to his other cards. 


The card is not rare by any means; PSA has graded over 3800 copies.  (Sometimes I think many collectors lose sight of this fact).  However, with excess demand, prices will drive even cards with heavier supplies even higher.

As shown below, collectors looking for a budget Satchel Paige card, the lower grade 53 Topps are a good option–those graded at PSA 3 and lower can usually be found for $1000 or less.  

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53 Topps Satchel Paige PSA pricing

Of course, anything higher grade is going to cost you more, especially when you start reaching up to something in the NM-MT grade, which averages around $4000 at retail.

There are also a few other lesser known Paige cards which have become more popular in recent years and highly collectible in their own right. 

1947-1966 Exhibits –  Satchel Paige

Amazingly, PSA has graded only 66 copies of this card, although there are plenty circulating in raw, ungraded condition.  Many sell on eBay for an average of $500 to $1500 from low grade to mid-grade condition.  

I’ve always liked the Exhibit cards and tend to think they get less attention–due to both the obscure issuance and confusion surrounding the years of production. 


I’d say the Exhibits Paige card is more on the underrated site and would have a good possibility of attractive price appreciation into the coming years. 

1947-66 – 1948 Indians Team Card

Another issue from the 1947-1966 Exhibits set, this Indians Team Card, features Satchel Paige as a member of the World Champion 1948 Cleveland Indians. 

Some don’t like these sort of team cards for collecting or investing in a particular player and I think it’s a cool card–and notably, even somewhat tougher to find than Paige’s base card from the Exhibits set.  


Decent condition copies of this card can often be found for $200 or less; in my mind an attractive investment for those collectors looking for an under the radar Satchel Paige card.

1948 Cleveland Indians Picture Pack – Satchel Paige 

These team issued photo cards are oversized (6.5x 9) and while not technically the prototypical cards, the Paige has become more popular in recent years for collectors trying to find more obscure issues.  

There are only a few graded by PSA, but many circulating ungraded…still not necessarily an easy to find issue.  Expect to pay around $500+ for ones that are in decent condition.


1949 Cleveland Indians Picture Pack – Satchell Paige

Another team issued photo card from the Indians–also oversized (6.5x 9); this Paige has also become more popular in recent years for collectors trying to find more obscure issues.   This one gets Paige in a pitching pose, versus the portrait card from the previous year. 

There are only two graded by PSA, with many circulating ungraded…still not necessarily an easy to find issue.  Expect to pay around $500+ for ones that are in decent condition.


1967 Venezuelan Topps Satchel Paige #177

A pretty rare card, PSA has graded only 30 copies of the card.  This isn’t necessarily a playing day Paige card, although he did come back to pitch for three innings in 1965 after being out of baseball for twelve years. 

This is still a highly sought after card, but good luck finding one.  I don’t see any PSA auction sales since 2019–in which the card was only selling for $300 or so.  I don’t know what the market for this card is now, but I can only gather that it would be multiples higher.


Are Satchel Paige Cards Still A Good Investment?

For collectors looking to invest in Satchel Paige cards, the good thing is that there are only a few available options, thus it’s pretty easy to study the values and population reports for these few cards.  

The bad news, is that all of his cards have increased exponentially in recent years, as he has finally started to get some of the respect he has long deserved. 

Ultimately, his cards should remain solid longer term investments, as I would expect players like Paige that have broken racial barriers to remain highly sought after.  His records and legacy and the folklore surrounding his elite play as a pitcher speak for themselves.

While his 1949 Leaf card might be out of touch for a lot of collectors, the 1953 Topps Satchel Paige card remains a more affordable option, as are his Exhibit cards. A collector with slightly deeper pockets might look to his 1949 Bowman card as another alternative. 

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