10 of the Best Nolan Ryan Cards of All-Time

10 of the Best Nolan Ryan Cards of All-Time

Nolan Ryan cards are some of the most popular in the hobby. It doesn't matter the year or set, the pitcher's cards always draw the attention of collectors. Few pitchers have achieved Ryan's level of success, both on the field and in the hobby. Often, pitchers are overlooked for the game's sluggers and daily difference makers. Ryan is an exception.

Click here to read our full guide to Nolan Ryan cards.

Baseball's all-time strikeout king, Ryan was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1999, appearing on 98.79% of the ballots in his first year of eligibility. He had the ability to dominate games, racking up an astounding seven no-hitters over the course of his career.

Even in retirement, veteran and rookie collectors continue to chase Nolan Ryan cards. His most recognized rookie card comes from 1968 Topps Baseball. In modern sets, Ryan is a regular signer who continues to command a premium on the secondary market.

With more than 10,000 different cards to his name, few will even come close to having a complete Nolan Ryan collection. With that in mind, here are ten of the best. Some may not be the most valuable and some may even debate their greatness. It's subjective. However, if you take the hobby as a whole, all ten are iconic for various reasons.

10 of the Best Nolan Ryan Cards Ever Made

1968 Topps Nolan Ryan RC #177 with Jerry Koosman

For anyone starting a collection of baseball's all-time strikeouts king, a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan rookie card is a must. During his final seasons with the Rangers, which happened to coincide with the early 90s hobby boom, raw copies were an easy sell at $1,000 and up. Prices have softened a little in recent years. Those who can afford it should aim for a graded copy if for nothing else, to help ensure their card is authentic.

Like most rookie cards from the era, Ryan is pictured alongside someone else. In this case, the honor went to Jerry Koosman.  Despite this, the 1968 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan rookie card remains one of the most iconic of the 1960s.

Nolan Ryan Cards - 1968 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan RC

1968 O-Pee-Chee Nolan Ryan RC #177 with Jerry Koosman

Although O-Pee-Chee may not have the brand recognition that Topps does among vintage card collectors, few will deny their rarity. For those who already have the 1968 Topps version or those looking for a challenge, the 1968 O-Pee-Chee Nolan Ryan rookie is a good choice. It has virtually the same design. A pair of differences can be found on the back, though. The card stock is lighter on the O-Pee-Chee card. Also, the fine print on the bottom reads, "Ptd. in Canada."

Nolan Ryan Cards - 1968 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Nolan Ryan RC Nolan Ryan Cards - 1968 O-Pee-Chee Baseball Nolan Ryan RC - Back

1968 Venezuelan Topps Nolan Ryan #177 with Jerry Koosman

Price is no object, you say? Then the 1968 Venezuelan Topps Nolan Ryan may be the card for you. Extremely rare, especially in top condition, this set was produced for the South American market. Printed on lower-quality stock, the cards are extremely fragile. A high-end vintage rarity, those looking for the 1968 Venezuelan Topps Nolan Ryan will likely have to look beyond eBay and reach out to major dealers and memorabilia brokers.

The card itself has virtually the same design as the 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan. A line of white text on the back reads, "Hecho en Venezuela - C.A. Litoven." Also, the card stock on the back looks much more gray than its American counterpart.

1968 Venezuelan Topps Nolan Ryan

1969 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan #533

The 1969 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan is the pitcher's first mainstream baseball card to picture him on his own. It's also important as it's from the year he helped the Mets win the World Series. The card features a posed photo of a very youthful Ryan in an odd pitching pose. It would have made more sense if the ball weren't sitting in plain view inside his glove. But maybe that's part of the charm for this classic card. Near-mint copies that have been professionally graded are moving anywhere from $300 to $400.

1969 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan

1970 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan #712

Nolan Ryan is one of the few players in the hobby that commands attention no matter the card. Collectors clamor for more than just his rookies and high-end hits. Vintage is held in particular regard. Professionally graded Mint copies of the 1970 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan can fetch more than $700. Near mint copies graded by PSA or BVG  can sell for about $250 to $300.

1970 Topps Baseball Nolan Ryan

1991 Topps Desert Shield Nolan Ryan #1

In 1991, Topps produced special cards for the troops participating in Operation Desert Shield in the Middle East. The cards were the same as the regular 1991 Topps Baseball cards except for a foil logo on the front of the card. Today, player and team collectors clamor for top-condition examples of these oddball cards. The 1991 Topps Desert Shield Nolan Ryan has a horizontal photo of the hurler in the follow through of a pitch, presumably one of his trademark fastballs.

1991 Topps Desert Shield Nolan Ryan

1991 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan Heroes Autograph #AU2 #/2500

Classic had a certified Nolan Ryan in 1991 but it didn't have nearly the impact as Upper Deck's. The seemingly endless supply of 1991 Upper Deck Low Series Baseball challenged collectors to "Find the Nolan." And while many tried, just 2,500 existed. Laughable by today's standards of rarity, the 1991 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan Heroes Autograph was -- and still is -- hard to find. A follow-up to the 1990 Upper Deck Reggie Jackson Heroes insert set, it represented one of the hobby's earliest high-end hits. Featuring the artwork used for the set's checklist. It is hand-numbered to 2,500 copies.

1991 Upper Deck Heroes Autograph Nolan Ryan #/2500

1993 Topps Finest Refractors Nolan Ryan #107

One of the hobby's first high-end parallels, 1993 Topps Finest Refractors are a hobby classic. Despite coming at the end of his playing career, the 1993 Topps Finest Refractor Nolan Ryan is one of the set's most valuable cards. A suspected short print, the card commands a lot of attention when it shows up. Expect to pay around $500 today.

1993 Topps Finest Baseball Refractors Nolan Ryan

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Epic Signatures Nolan Ryan #NR

The 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Epic Signatures Nolan Ryan may no longer be one of the Hall of Famer's most valuable autograph cards, but it's one of the most attractive. The clean design allows lots of space for Ryan's instantly recognizable signature. The podium photograph is a touching tribute as well. The supply of these cards has long since dried up. Although they turn up for sale somewhat regularly, it will likely take a little time and patience.

1999 Upper Deck Century Legends Epic Signatures Nolan Ryan

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball Framed Mini Autographs Nolan Ryan #AGA-NR SP

2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Baseball is one of the best sets of the new millennium. It launched the brand to a modern audience and produced some high-priced hits. Although autographs aren't particularly rare across the set's production run, they still garner huge amounts. The 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter Framed Mini Autograph Nolan Ryan is limited to 50 copies. Because the set is so widely collected, few pop up. Should you find one, expect to pay a premium over similar autographs, even ones with lower serial numbers and enhanced by memorabilia swatches.

Nolan Ryan Cards - 2006 Topps Allen and Ginter Autographs Nolan Ryan

What is your favorite Nolan Ryan card? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Top eBay Listings

2013 Topps Gold Holofoil Insert Chasing History Nolan Ryan #27 - Rangers
$8.00

Baseball Card #134 Sports Stars USA Nolan Ryan Mr No Hitter gold autographed
$40.00

1975 Topps #500 Nolan Ryan!!!!
$5.99

1980 TOPPS #580 NOLAN RYAN NM-MT
$5.95

Chipper Jones - Don Mattingly - Nolan Ryan - Frank Viola NNO 1990 Classic Yellow
$7.50

Nolan Ryan - Ken Griffey #3-323 65 Gregg Olson 1990 Topps sticker
$6.95

Nolan Ryan - Steve Carlton - Tom Seaver #S8 1986 Seven-Eleven
$5.95

Nolan Ryan #1 1993 Leaf Heading for the Hall
$7.50

Nolan Ryan #10 1989 King-B Disc
$6.95

Nolan Ryan #100 1989 Red Foley Sticker
$7.95

Nolan Ryan #11 1992 Seven-Eleven Coin
$5.95

Nolan Ryan #121 1987 Red Foley Sticker
$6.95
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Ryan Cracknell

E-Mail Author | 
Ryan's collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection. Ryan can be found on Twitter @tradercracks and Google+.

User Comments

  1. How do you leave off the ’89 UD triple exposure?

  2. Mike (ID 55100) » If it was a list of the 10 Coolest Looking Nolan Ryan Cards, it’d be right up there. I actually had the 1991 Stadium Club tuxedo on my original list as well.

  3. i HAVE ONE OF THESE – 1991 Upper Deck Nolan Ryan Heroes Autograph #AU2 #/2500 – MINT IN A THICK SEALED CASING. ANY IDEA OF WHAT IT IS WORTH?

  4. I have Nolan Ryan Little League Hockey Card when he was 12 years old. Any idea of what it is worth?

  5. I have a Nolan Ryan baseball card of him as a pitcher and on back side is his baby picture and been wondering what is worth.

  6. Wounder about the price of a Nolan Ryan 1968 metal replica card of #117 from the Hamilton collection in mint cond with certificate copyright shows 1993 it’s a collectors edition

  7. have a Nolan Ryan rookie baseball card at age of 17 but don’t remember the make of card or year. would it be of any value today?

  8. sam » His rookie is pictured above. It is still very popular, though value can vary greatly depending on condition.

  9. looking to find out about a baseball card of ryan nolan its a upper deck baseball hero card #18 of 18not signed thank you

  10. dAWN » It’s from 1991 Upper Deck. They’re all quite common and aren’t worth much money today because of it, unfortunately.

  11. I had a huge collection of nolan ryan including rookie card but i let my cousin move in to help him out and he stoled them all. Watch anythingof value its a must nowdays!””””

  12. I HAVE A NOLAN RYAN PLASTIC SHAPED CARD FROM THE 1991 TOPP’s
    40 YEARS OF BASEBALL PRODUED BY TANY WAY YOIU CAN SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE VALUE OF THIS ITEM OPPS AND IS NUMBERED 29 OF 36
    LOOKS LIKE A CLNTAINER THAT MIGHT HAVE CONTAINED MINTS OF A TYPE

  13. I have a 1991 Pacific # 112 little league All-Star of Nolan Ryan. Any ideals of what it’s worth?

  14. Hi:
    Hi:
    I have two Nolan Ryan autographed cards, one is as an Alvin All Star, age 12, 50th anniversary of LL, 1939-1989, sponsored by Am. Exp and Best Western, and the other is the 5,000 strike out card, Topps; excellent condition. I am wondering what the value is. Thanks,
    Jack

  15. I have a topps 40 years of baseball nolan ryan card the 6 rarest card on this site how much will I get for it

  16. I have a 1990 Farewell Set card. #7 of 10. He is 34 years old. What is this worth?

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