Ranking the Most Valuable Baseball Cards: Nos. 25-1
Note: All card values are for prospective PSA 10 grades.
25. Ernie Banks 1954 Topps
Value of rookie card: $144K
No PSA 10 grade copies of this 1954 Topps Ernie Banks rookie card are known to exist, and they're scarce enough overall to get pretty good money for grades through a PSA 7.
Ernie Banks is one of the most famous professional athletes to never win a championship. A good part of his legacy was built on spending his entire career with the long-suffering Chicago Cubs.
Banks was a power-hitting shortstop who racked up a whopping 512 career home runs. He was also the first Cub in history to have his number retired.
24. George Brett 1975 Topps
Value of rookie card: $162K
Compared to some cards on this list, the 10 PSA 10 grade copies of George Brett's 1975 Topps rookie card must seem like 1,000 to collectors.
Brett played all of his 21 seasons with the Kansas City Royals and accomplished everything imaginable for a ballplayer. He won three American League batting titles, made 13 All-Star teams, won American League MVP in 1980 and led the Royals to a World Series championship in 1985.
He also won a batting title in three different decades, taking the top spot in 1976, 1980 and 1990.
23. Sandy Koufax 1955 Topps
Value of rookie card: $272K
Sandy Koufax was one of the greatest pitchers of all time. But he played just 12 seasons, so his 165 career wins don't even put him in the top 50 on the MLB career wins list.
There are no PSA 10 copies of his 1955 Topps rookie card out there, and less than two dozen copies with a PSA 9 grade.
22. Ted Williams 1939 Play Ball
Value of rookie card: $295K
There are no PSA 10 grade copies of the 1939 Ted Williams Play Ball rookie card in circulation, and there are just 100 PSA 9 and PSA 8 graded copies in existence.
Williams was simply the greatest hitter that baseball has ever seen and the last MLB player to hit over .400. Williams won the American League Triple Crown in 1942 before taking three years off to fight for the U.S. in World War II, then he won the Triple Crown again in 1947.
Williams played in the World Series just once, in 1946, when the Red Sox lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.
21. Mike Trout 2011 Bowman Chrome
Value of rookie card: $299K
You're going to see Trout's name again on this list. Maybe even several times.
Trout is already a three-time American League MVP just one decade into his career, but he has never won a World Series. He also signed the richest contract in MLB history in 2019 — 12 years for $426 million.
20. Shohei Ohtani 2018 Topps Chrome
Value of rookie card: $301K
We love seeing Shohei Ohtani make the cut. He is one of just three modern players to have their rookie cards among the most highly valued of all time.
Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to be named an All-Star as both a pitcher and a hitter in 2021. That's when he also was named American League MVP for the first time.
19. Tom Seaver and Bill Denchy 1967 Topps
Value of rookie card: $348K
While there are just three PSA 10 copies of pitcher Tom Seaver's rookie card out there, you can still get pretty decent value for the PSA 9 and PSA 8 grade copies.
Seaver was elected to the Hall of Fame with a then-record 98.4 percent of the vote in 1992, and the New York Mets renamed the address of Citi Field to 41 Seaver Way in 2019. Seaver was the star pitcher on the Mets World Series championship team in 1969 and a three-time Cy Young Award winner.
He died in August 2020 after suffering from Lewy body dementia.
18. Roy Campanella 1949 Bowman
Value of rookie card: $357K
There are only two PSA 10 copies of Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella's 1949 Bowman rookie card in existence.
His career was tragically cut short when he was paralyzed in a car accident in 1958. But he's still considered one of the greatest catchers in MLB history.
17. Bob Gibson 1959 Topps
Value of rookie card: $363K
You won't find many rookie cards for MLB pitchers on this list, but it's no surprise to see Bob Gibson's name pop up.
Gibson dominated from the mound like few have in the history of the game. Gibson did it all for the Cardinals, where he played his entire career, winning two Cy Young Awards and two World Series MVP awards.
Gibson died in October 2020, at 84 years old.
16. Mike Schmidt and Ron Cey 1973 Topps
Value of rookie card: $369K
One of the greatest third basemen in MLB history, Mike Schmidt was a 10-time Gold Glove Award winner who also led the National League in home runs eight times. He had one of the best combinations of fielding and power ever.
Ron Cey was not a Hall of Famer like Schmidt, but he was no slouch. Cey actually was a World Series MVP in 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Another interesting debate is if having Cey on the card alongside Schmidt increased or decreased the card's value.
Guess we'll never know.
15. Harmon Killebrew 1955 Topps
Value of rookie card: $378K
The value of Harmon Killebrew's 1955 Topps rookie card comes largely on the front end of PSA grades. Only one PSA 10 copy exists, but some 800 copies are scattered between PSA 9 and PSA 8 grades.
Killebrew led the American League in home runs six times in 22 seasons, all but one of which he spent with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins.
Killebrew was an understated, quiet star who played in the World Series just once, in 1965, when the Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
14. Derek Jeter 1993 SP Foil
Value of rookie card: $483K
One of the most revered players in MLB history, Derek Jeter played his entire, 20-year career for the New York Yankees and won five World Series titles, including three in a row from 1998 to 2000.
Jeter is only one of three modern players to see his rookie card land on this list, alongside Los Angeles Angels teammates Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.
13. Yogi Berra 1948 Bowman
Value of rookie card: $489K
There is only one PSA 10 copy of the Yogi Berra 1948 Bowman in existence. It's a fitting tribute to one of the greatest winners in professional sports history to see his rookie card this high on the list.
In 19 major league seasons, Berra was an 18-time All-Star and won 10 World Series championships with the New York Yankees — the most of any player in MLB history.
12. Reggie Jackson 1969 Topps
Value of rookie card: $515K
There's only one PSA 10 copy of Reggie Jackson's 1969 Topps rookie card (known to exist), but 41 PSA 9 copies have considerably driven down the price of all the PSA grades below that.
Jackson led the Oakland Athletics to three consecutive World Series titles in the early 1970s, then led the New York Yankees to two more World Series titles in 1977 and 1978.
Jackson had one of the greatest seasons in MLB history in 1973 when he led the Oakland Athletics to the World Series, led the American League in home runs and RBI, and swept American League MVP and World Series MVP honors.
11. Pete Rose 1963 Topps
Value of rookie card: $561K
It's an interesting debate to have about Pete Rose's 1963 Topps rookie card. Is it worth this much because he has been banned from baseball since 1989 or despite it?
Rose still holds MLB career records for hits, singles, games played, at-bats and plate appearances. Rose was also a winner. He won back-to-back World Series championships with the Reds in 1975 and 1976, then again with the Phillies in 1980.
10. Nolan Ryan and Jerry Koosman 1968 Topps
Value of rookie card: $1.34 million
No shade to Jerry Koosman, but we can't imagine what a Topps copy of this rookie card would be worth if it only had Nolan Ryan on it. This is the highest value rookie card for a pitcher on this list, and there's only one PSA 10 copy of this card known to exist.
Ryan became one of MLB's greatest pitchers over a 27-year career that included MLB records with seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts.
Ryan is one of just a handful of players to play in four different decades. Even more amazing is he pitched no-hitters in three different decades over the span of 18 years.
9. Willie Mays 1951 Bowman
Value of rookie card: $1.43 million
Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle both saw their rookie cards come out of the 1951 Bowman set, although it's another Mantle rookie card from Topps that has set all the records. Like so many cards on this list, no PSA 10 copies are known to exist.
Mays still holds the MLB record with 22 extra-inning home runs and is one of just a handful of players to hit over 600 home runs and record 3,000 hits. Even with all that power, he still had a career .302 batting average.
8. Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps
Value of rookie card: $1.5 million
No copies of this rare Roberto Clemente rookie card exist in PSA 10 form, but there are at least four PSA 9-rated cards out there for the two-time World Series champion, 15-time All-Star and 1966 National League MVP.
Clemente died in a plane crash in 1972 on his way to deliver humanitarian aid to hurricane victims in Nicaragua.
7. Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey Action
Value of rookie card: $2.7 million
This is one of four copies of the "official" 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth rookie card. There are no PSA 10 copies known to exist but several PSA 9 copies.
6. Jackie Robinson 1948 Leaf
Value of rookie card: $3 million
While there are no PSA 10 copies of this Jackie Robinson rookie card known to collectors, seven PSA 9 cards have hit the market at some point.
Robinson, who broke MLB's color barrier in 1947, has had his No. 42 retired by every MLB team.
5. Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey
Value of rookie card: $4.2 million
This card wasn't even issued until Babe Ruth's 20th year in the majors, and it's still considered a rookie card for the former MLB home run king.
While no PSA 10 copies of the 1933 Goudey have ever been found, there is one known PSA 9 in existence.
4. Mike Trout 2009 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects
Value of rookie card: $5.5 million
This is the greatest evidence of how expert card collectors and baseball purists view Mike Trout as one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived.
Trout is one of just two active players to make this list and one of just three modern players who have rookie cards considered this valuable.
3. Babe Ruth 1914 Baltimore News
Value of rookie card: $6 million
This Baltimore News-issued card depicts Babe Ruth playing in his final season in the minor leagues for the Baltimore Orioles, who sold his rights to the Boston Red Sox in 1914 — where he actually played his rookie season.
Even a PSA 1 copy of this card could still be sold for around $600,000.
2. Hank Aaron 1954 Topps
Value of rookie card: $7 million
There are only two PSA 10 Henry Aaron 1954 Topps rookie cards that exist. Even a PSA 1 graded copy still goes for around $2,000.
Aaron, who died in 2021 at 86 years old, is still the MLB career leader in RBI and extra-base hits. That record is closing in on 50 years since his career ended.
1. Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps
Value of rookie card: $15 million-30 million (estimated)
It's believed there are only three PSA 10 Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps rookie cards that exist, making it the most valuable rookie card of all time, in any sport.
Probably the greatest switch-hitter who ever played the game, Mantle's ability to hit for average and for power was never more on display than when he won seven World Series championships for the New York Yankees. He still holds World Series records for most home runs (18), extra-base hits (26) and total bases (123).
Honorable Mention: Mark McGwire 1985 Topps
Value of rookie card: $27K
If $27,000 seems like a lot for a Mark McGwire rookie card, please remember that this card, which features McGwire in his 1984 Olympic uniform, was once considered a rival to the Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps rookie card as one of the most valuable cards of all time.
Honorable Mention: Barry Bonds 1987 Donruss Opening Day (Error)
Value of rookie card: $15K
There's some irony in the most valuable card for MLB's home run king not even having his picture on it. Instead, Donruss issued a very small batch of Barry Bonds rookie cards with a picture of Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Johnny Ray, his teammate, and not Bonds.
Related:Most Valuable Baseball Cards of All Time