1970s-baseball-rookie-cards

Hidden Gems: Top 10 Undervalued ’70s Baseball Rookie Cards

From the rookie cards of Fred Lynn, Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage, these underrated gems from the 70s deserve another look.

Updated Sep 29, 2023

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The 1970s featured many baseball stars, Hall of Fame players, rookies, and some players who made a significant impact during the decade. 

Still, today many rookie cards from that era fly under the radar. Rookie cards from this decade, especially high-grade examples, continue to increase in value.

In previous baseball rookie card articles, I have discussed rookie cards of players not yet in the Hall, including Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez, Lou Whitaker, Thurman Munson, and Dwight Evans.

In this piece, I dive deeper into ten rookie cards from the 1970s that still look like excellent buys.

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#1. 1970 Topps Vida Blue Rookie #21

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Vida Blue was part of the 1970s Oakland A's dynasty teams. He would win three World Series during the 1970 decade. Blue was one of his era's most dominant pitchers, winning a Cy Young and MVP awards during the 1971 season. 

Blue remains one of the best pitchers not to be named a Hall of Famer on this list. Blue's rookie card is from the 1970 set; A PSA 8 copy is valued at $200 from recent eBay auctions

Only 166 straight PSA 8's exist, and just 22 are graded higher. Investing in Blue's PSA 8 could pay off in both the short-term and long-term because these are already relatively limited. Blue was a dominant pitcher of his era, and his card in a PSA 8 is still vastly undervalued.

#2. 1973 Topps Rich "Goose" Gossage Rookie #174

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Goose Gossage helped define the closer position in MLB history. He would become a full-time closer in 1975 and even pitch multi-inning saves before any other relief pitcher. 

Gossage signed a big contract with the New York Yankees and helped lead them to the 1978 World Series. Collectors can now buy a PSA 8-graded 1973 Topps Gossage Rookie card for $160 to $200.

Considering Gossage's enormous impact on baseball, his rookie card remains undervalued. There are 761 straight PSA 8's of Gossage Rookies and 288 graded higher. Gossage's Rookie card is an excellent addition to any baseball rookie card collection.

#3. 1971 Topps Don Baylor/ Tom Paciorek / Dusty Baker Rookie #709

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This 1971 Topps rookie card of Dusty Baker and Don Baylor is unique because it's rare to find a three-player rookie card with more than one star. Both players were solid major leaguers; however, this card now has more value due to the success of Baker's managerial career.

Baker won the World Series with the Houston Astros during the 2022 MLB season, which most likely has earned him a trip to Cooperstown as a Hall of Fame manager.

The Baylor/Baker's 1971 Topps rookie card is tough to find in a high-grade example due to this set being tough to grade high with the black edges and corners. A PSA 6 graded example is worth between $200 to $225, which has doubled in value within the last two years.

This card is still underrated, considering high-grade copies are much more sought after and tougher to find. Baker will be a future Hall of Fame manager, and this is a must-have for any baseball rookie card collector!

#4. 1971 Topps George Foster Rookie #276

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George Foster had some big years in the late 1970s, including an MVP year in 1977 when he hit 52 home runs. Over his career, Foster hit 348 homers and had 1,239 RBI. Some say he should be in the Hall of Fame.

Foster's rookie card is from the 1971 Topps set, notorious for condition problems, due to the black borders. A PSA 8 example is a good option for around $250. Only 282 PSA 8 examples exist of this card, which has increased in value in recent years. 

Foster was a part of The Big Red Machine dynasty and is a top-rated player. His card is a must-have for any vintage Reds collector, as his rookie card is already becoming more difficult to find in high grades.

#5. 1978 Topps Jack Morris Rookie #703

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Jack Morris entered the Hall of Fame through a committee vote in 2018. Morris's 1978 Topps rookie card felt undervalued before getting elected to the Hall, and today, it still is. PSA 9 copies of Morris' rookie card sell for $100 to $125, depending on entering.

Only 108 total, Gem-Mint, PSA 10 copies of the Morris rookie exist and sell for $2,500 to $3,000. That's more than 20x the value of PSA 9 copies. Adding a centered PSA 9 example Morris to your collection is a must at this cost, especially since PSA 10 copies are so limited.

#6. 1975 Topps Fred Lynn Rookie #622

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1975 Topps Fred Lynn Rookie Card

Fred Lynn was among the most popular Boston Red Sox players during his playing days. He won many awards in his career, including MVP, Rookie of the Year, nine-time All-Star game selections, and a batting title.

Some think Lynn could have been a HOFer if he stayed in Boston and remained healthy.

Lynn is considered one of the better players on this list, not in the Hall of Fame. His rookie card is among the key rookies in the 1975 Topps set; only 120 PSA 9 copies exist. A PSA 9 can be found on eBay for about $200, with values trending up in the last couple of years.

To this day, Lynn remains a favorite Red Sox player, so this is another must-have for any Red Sox fan in this grade. PSA 9's have a somewhat limited population, and a buy like this could pay off in the long term.

#7. 1971 Topps Dave Concepcion Rookie #14

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1975 Topps Fred Lynn Rookie Card

Dave Concepcion was a part of the Big Red Machine dynasty teams, winning two World Series in his career. A nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove award winner Concepcion had a great career and is a borderline Hall of Famer.

He could someday be elected to the Hall of Fame, which is why his rookie card is still undervalued. His rookie card is a part of the black-bordered, condition sensitive 1971 Topps set. PSA 8 copies increased in value of late, now selling at around $300 to $325.

Your next best option is buying a PSA 7
, valued at around $100. Only 286 straight PSA 8's exist, so this is still a tough card to find, given the black borders of the set. This one has a good chance of appreciating in the future.

#8. 1971 Topps Bobby Grich Rookie #193

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1975 Topps Fred Lynn Rookie Card

Bobby Grich was an elite second baseman of his era, winning four gold glove awards. His rookie card is another card from the condition sensitive 1971 Topps set.

Only 184 PSA 8 copies exist, with the latest auction sales at around $275. Given the difficulty of finding near mint to mint cards in the 71 Topps set, higher-grade examples of Grich's rookie card should continue to increase value.

#9. 1972 Topps J.R. Richard Rookie #101

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J.R. Richard was one of the premier pitchers of the 1970s. He led the NL in ERA during the 1979 season and in strikeouts in 1978 and 1979. Richard's career was cut short due to a stroke in 1980, and he was forced to retire in 1980 at just 30 years old.

Richard's rookie card is featured in the 1972 Topps set. Only 143 PSA 9 copies exist, with the latest sales at less than $100. This seems undervalued for a high-grade example of a dominant pitcher in the 1970s.

Richard's rookie is a great buy at this cost, as this is already a difficult card to find in a high-grade example, and only a few pop up for sale.

#10. 1976 Topps Ron Guidry Rookie #599

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Ron Guidry is famous for his historic 1978 season when he won 25 games, Cy Young Award, finished 2nd in MVP, and won the World Series in the same season.

Guidry was so dominant one year that any time he would get two strikes on a batter, the crowd would begin to cheer for the strikeout. Guidry is credited for starting this in baseball, which is still relevant today with baseball crowds.

His rookie card is featured from the 1976 Topps set; only 111 straight PSA 9 examples exist. This card is valued at $350-375 at recent eBay auctions.

Guidry's PSA 9s is limited, and he is a top-rated player not in the Hall of Fame. A must-have for any New York Yankees fan, as Guidry's number 49 is retired in Yankees Monument Park.

Vinnie Rullo

About the author

Vinnie Rullo is a passionate sports fan, with a hardcore loyalty to the Yankees, NY Giants and New York Knicks. An avid sports card collector, Vinnie has also worked a collectibles specialist for one of the bigger online auction houses.

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