Rookie Card Year: 1950
Investment Rating: 8.0
Despite the turmoil surrounding the final months of his life, Joe Paterno is one of the most beloved figures in sports history. Not surprisingly, Joe Paterno memorabilia has long been in high demand. He led the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years, taking them to National Championships in 1982 and 1986. JoePa's list of accolades include 24 Bowl wins and 409 career victories, making him the wins leader in NCAA Division I history. Paterno was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Despite his accomplishments, Paterno found himself in the middle of a major scandal when one of his assistants, Jerry Sandusky, was charged with sexually abusing children. Amidst accusations that many in the school knew about the issue but didn't do enough to stop it, Paterno was fired by Penn State in late-2011. Diagnosed with lung cancer just weeks after being let go, Paterno passed away in January, 2012 at the age of 85.
Few sports figures had the respect and following that Paterno had. Combine that with the somewhat limited collectible options from having a career at the college ranks and it's easy to understand why Joe Paterno memorabilia commands such attention. Autographed Joe Paterno memorabilia is the most popular with signed photos leading the way. Other popular pieces of Joe Paterno memorabilia include issues of Sports Illustrated, programs and assorted novelties. In 2004, Paterno was honored on a beautiful Wheaties box. Persistent collectors may want to go after tickets from milestone games and Bowl matches.
Because his success came from the college ranks, few Joe Paterno card options exist. His rookie hails from 1950 Topps Felt Backs, which is regarded as the first all-football set produced by the company. The miniature 7/8" x 1 7/16" cloth cards were inserted with Varsity Gum. Paterno is pictured as a player with Brown University. The front features a black and white portrait on a plain blue backdrop. The back has an image of a Brown pennant. Extremely difficult to find, let alone in good condition, collectors should expect to pay several thousand dollars for the first Joe Paterno card.
Most other Joe Paterno cards were released in connection with the school. The 1997 Press Pass Joe Paterno card, one of his few pack-inserted cards, commands very high prices, in part due to it being a short print. The closest thing card collectors can get to autographs are a pair of extremely rare cut signatures. One, in 2009 Donuruss Classics, had just three copies, while a 2010 Sport Kings Paterno cut signature card was a one-of-one. Topps announced they were going to have a JoePa autograph in 2008 Topps Mayo, even releasing pictures of a mock-up. However, the card never materialized.
Over the years, several Joe Paterno books and biographies have been published:
- Pride of the Lions: The Biography of Joe Paterno
- No Ordinary Joe: The Biography of Joe Paterno
- What It Means to Be a Nittany Lion: Joe Paterno and Penn State's Greatest Players
- The Lion in Autumn: A Season with Joe Paterno and Penn State Football
- Playing for Paterno: One Coach, Two Eras: a Father and Son's Personal Recollections of Playing for JoePa
Joe Paterno Card Checklist
- 1950 Topps Felt Backs #64
- 1979 Sportscaster #72-17
- 1988 Penn State #7
- 1989 Penn State #9
- 1990 Penn State #11
- 1992 Penn State Legends #1
- 1992 Penn State Legends Promo #P1
- 1992 Gridiron #80
- 1997 Press Pass #47 SP
- 1997 Press Pass Red Zone #47
- 1997 Press Pass Torquers Blue #47
- 2001 Penn State #11
- 2007 Penn State TK Legacy Milestones #PS1
- 2008 Liberty Bowl Legends #1
- 2009 Donruss Classics Classic Cuts Autograph #/3
- 2010 Sportkings Coaches Corner Cut Autographs #CCJP 1/1
Joe Paterno Card Gallery:
Joe Paterno Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Joe Paterno's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company.
Signed 8 x 10 Photo Pricing: