One of the most underrated players in NBA history, Elgin Baylor is an all-time great and a terrific option for vintage basketball collectors. The basketball card void of the 1960s means there are not many releases from his playing days, but the few available Elgin Baylor cards are popular and there are plenty more modern options to collect as well.
After a strong showing in college with the College of Idaho and Seattle University, Elgin Baylor was the first overall pick in the 1958 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Lakers. Baylor was named the 1958-59 Rookie of the year and spent his entire Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, including their move to Los Angeles. Over his 13-year career, Elgin Baylor was an 11-time All-Star selection. Despite reaching the NBA Finals eight times, Baylor did not hoist a single title trophy, which does hurt his legacy somewhat.
Because of the period that he played, it is estimated that only around two percent of his field goals are documented on camera. The little available footage from his active playing days has been compiled in this Elgin Baylor video.
Just like the overall lack of NBA footage for Elgin Baylor, collectors don't have many vintage cardboard options. His first card came in in 1961-62 Fleer and there was not another major release until 1969-70 Topps. Since he retired following the 1971-72 season, there were really only four main products produced during his entire NBA career. Things got better for collectors in the 1990s and really took off in 1999 and beyond, including the first pack-pulled autographs and memorabilia cards for Elgin Baylor. Despite his overall relevance, autographed cards for Elgin Baylor are very inexpensive and can regularly be found for under $30.
The list below includes the sole Elgin Baylor rookie card and other key early cards.
Key Vintage Elgin Baylor Cards
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One of several HOF rookie options in 1961-62 Fleer, the earliest Elgin Baylor card features a classic design and bold colors that help accentuate the black-and-white image. Also, the giraffe logo is quite captivating. Although ungraded versions go for under $100, values can push quickly with high grades and a BVG 8.5 sold for just over $1,200 in November of 2014.
Collectors who are looking for something a little cheaper are in luck because Elgin Baylor was also included in the "In Action" subset in 1961-62 Fleer. Featuring the same basic design and layout, the rookie alternative showcases an action shot for Baylor.
Easily the rarest early card for Elgin Baylor, Topps produced a test set in 1968-69 that was never released to the public. Over the years, these limited cards have made their way into the hobby and Elgin Baylor is one of the many elite players found in the checklist. These black-and-white cards rarely surface.
The first widely-available Elgin Baylor card after a seven-season gap, 1969-70 Topps is recognizable for the tall boy format and small basketball drawings on the border.
Also a tall boy set, 1970-71 Topps has a very generic feel and virtually the same Elgin Baylor image as his 1969-70 card. There is also a All-Star subset card for Baylor that offers a little more character and is very colorful.
The final card from his playing career and the last Elgin Baylor card for many years, 1971-72 Topps is an ideal place for collectors to find an appealing budget card for the former great.