Top 10 Baseball Rookie Cards of the 1960s
The 1960s was an intense decade for America. Firmly entrenched in the Cold War, people had to cope with the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of another massive war. The Civil Rights movement brought about tremendous change. The decade concluded with the space race and Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.
Baseball cards provided a much-needed distraction during the tumultuous times. Today, we look back at collecting during this period and connect it with sandlot games, riding bikes with banana seats and hard-nosed trade negotiations.
The 1960s saw several legendary players make their cardboard debuts. Many of the rookie cards from this era featured multiple players. In retrospect, it makes for some odd combinations as all-time greats are almost always paired with players who made little to no lasting impression on the game. But it's not like there were a lot of options for baseball card collectors back then.
We've compiled a list of the ten best baseball rookie cards from the 1960s. To be consistent, we used prices from cards graded an 8 by PSA or BVG. To avoid player duplication, we stuck to just Topps cards. Many of these players also have O-Pee-Chee rookie cards.
There's something about Johnny Bench and his backward baseball cap that captures the nostalgic sensibilities of the 1960s. Relaxed, informal and ready to play, it screams "baseball." A key part of the Big Red Machine, the catcher remains one of the most beloved players of his generation. Bench shares his rookie card with pitcher Ron Tompkins. He appeared in 40 total games, none for the Reds, and won none of them.
The 1979 World Series MVP, Willie Stargell helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to six postseason appearances. The Hall of Famer and fan favorite finished his career with 475 home runs. His 1963 Topps rookie card is part of the rarer high series, which helps its overall value. Brock Davis, Jim Gosger and John Herrnstein are also on the card.
A Giants icon, Willie McCovey made a splash from the very start of his career. He was named the 1959 National League Rookie of the Year despite appearing in just 52 games. In that time, he hit .354 and knocked out 13 home runs. Over the next couple of decades, McCovey continued to be one of the game's most dangerous hitters, finishing his career with 521 home runs. McCovey is one of the few players from the decade to appear by himself on his rookie card.
A leader in virtually every major offensive category in Boston Red Sox history, Yastrzemski remains one of the franchise's most popular figures. The 18-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner spent his entire career with Boston. He made history in 1967, winning the Triple Crown by leading the American League in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. The 1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemski rookie card is part of the Rookie Star subset and doesn't feature any other players.
One of baseball's best base runners, the 1962 Topps Lou Brock rookie card pictures him with the Chicago Cubs. However, the speedy outfielder is best known as a member of the Cardinals. He was traded to St. Louis during the 1964 season. At the time, it looked as though the Cardinals were out of the playoff hunt. However, Brock was an instrumental part in the team winning the NL pennant on the final day of the season. The Cardinals would then go on to capture the World Series in seven games over the Yankees. Brock was both the single-season and career stolen bases leader until Rickey Henderson broke both records.
Over the course of his career, Rod Carew was one of baseball's most consistent hitters. In 19 seasons, he hit less that .300 just four times -- during his first two and his last two seasons. Carew won the AL batting title seven times and finished with an impressive .328 career average. The 1977 AL MVP was inducted into Cooperstown in 1991. The 1967 Topps Rod Carew rookie card also features Hank Allen. He had a seven-year career but had no notable accomplishments.
One of baseball's most dangerous hitters, not to mention biggest personalities, of the 1970s, Reggie Jackson is a baseball icon. Jackson's status reached mythical proportions in 1977 after blasting three home runs in Game 6 of the World Series. Today, Jackson remains extremely popular with collectors. He was a big part of Upper Deck's early years, appearing on the hobby's first pack-inserted autograph card in 1990. The 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson rookie card is instantly recognizable despite it's somewhat plain appearance.
Tom Seaver is one of the game's greatest pitchers. A key face on 1969 World Series-winning "Miracle Mets," he finished his career with 311 wins and 3,640 strikeouts. Seaver is currently the only player in Cooperstown to be inducted as a member of the Mets. The pitcher's iconic status is not bestowed on Bill Denehy, the player he shares his rookie card with. Appearing in 49 games over three seasons, the pitcher won just one game. The 1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie card is part of the high series, which is considered to be rarer than earlier series. This helps its value as well.
One of the most popular and iconic cards of all-time, the 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card has actually come down in price from its peak during his playing days. However, that was also when the hobby was also at its peak and the flame throwing pitcher was racking up some impressive records and feats. Baseball's all-time strikeout king remains in the public eye as the owner of the Texas Rangers, a team on the cusp of a World Series. Should the team win a championship, it will give Ryan's rookie some added attention and could provide for a bit of a price bump.
Congratulations, Al Weis! You've got the best baseball rookie card of the 1960s. I know you're shocked. In you acceptance speech, just be sure to thank Pete Rose because, let's be honest, he's the reason that you've got this lofty honor. Rose may not be in baseball's Hall of Fame, but if there's ever one for baseball cards, the game's all-time hit king will be there. Featuring four heads and no necks, the high-number card is viewed as one of the most iconic in the hobby's history.
Related Topics: Baseball Cards: Guides