Date of Birth: 12/12/1932
Rookie Card Year: 1957-58
Investment Rating: 7.5
As a dominant scorer and rebounder, Bob Pettit is one of the all-time greats in NBA history. Although he is well respected in basketball circles, Pettit does not receive the same respect as other legends from the era, and that largely extends to collectors, as well. However, while he only has a few vintage options, Bob Pettit cards are an important part of the early years of basketball collecting.
A basketball star at LSU, Bob Pettit was drafted second overall by the Milwaukee Hawks in 1954. Pettit spent his entire career with the Hawks' franchise, including the move to St. Louis in 1955. The 1954-55 NBA Rookie of the Year, Pettit was a two-time league MVP and an NBA All-Star in each of his 11 seasons. In addition, he was named the MVP of the All-Star Game four times.
Despite his success, Bob Pettit's lack of mainstream recognition, especially in the hobby, is partially due to limited footage from his playing days and the towering legacies of other superstars from the era. Check out this YouTube video of Pettit for a snapshot of his Hall of Fame abilities.
Another problem for collectors is the overall lack of cardboard from his playing days. Other than a few team issues and some oddball regional releases, most of which have very limited availability, collectors can find vintage Bob Pettit cards in just two main basketball products.
Bob Pettit Rookie Cards and Other Key Vintage Cards
1955 All American Sports Club Bob Pettit #104
Arriving before his pack-issued cardboard, the first place to find Bob Pettit cards is in the 1955 All American Sports Club series. Pettit is one of many key names in the multi-sport offering. The 500-card vintage set is quite limited, though, and the hand-cut card for Pettit rarely surfaces.
1957-58 Topps Bob Pettit RC #24
Part of the only traditional basketball cards product from the 1950s, Bob Pettit is one of several notable rookies found in 1957-58 Topps. Joining the rookie cards for Bob Cousy and Bill Russell, the popular set is packed with talent. While the vintage product is fairly limited, values for the Bob Pettit rookie are kept in check because his card was the lone quadruple-print (QP).
1959-60 St. Louis Hawks Busch Bavarian Bob Pettit
Another early card of note for Bob Pettit came in the regional Busch Bavarian release. This five-card set features the top names from the '59-60 St. Louis Hawks. The blank-back cards are not easy to track down.
1960 Post Cereal Bob Pettit
In terms of sheer visual impressiveness, the 1960 Post Cereal card is hard to beat. The large card was hand-cut from the backs of Post boxes. Pettit is part of the nine-card multi-sport lineup that also includes Mickey Mantle and Johnny Unitas. This is another tough find.
1961 Essex Meats St. Louis Hawks Bob Pettit
Among his regional cards, the 1961 edition from Essex Meats tends to be the least difficult to locate. The card also lists his full name: Robert Lee Pettit Jr. The small set showcases 13 players from the Hawks.
1961 Rawlings Bob Pettit
Digging really deep, some fans may recall that Pettit was featured in ad campaigns from Rawlings during his career. While there are various advertising posters displaying Pettit across several years, collectors can find a photo from 1961 naming him as a member of the advisory staff.
1961-62 Fleer Bob Pettit #34, Action #59
As the only other major card release during Bob Pettit's active career, 1961-62 Fleer is another appealing vintage option for Pettit collectors.
In addition to the colorful base card, there is also an action subset card. Both feature a black-and-white image of Pettit along with distinct background colors.
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Just missing a few valuable pieces:
A) Pettit’s “True Rookie” was not ‘57 Topps, but rather a small cut out from the 1955 All American Sportsclub Set! The 1957 Topps Pettit has a PSA population of approximately 780, while the AASC Rookie has a PSA population of just 10!
B) His second release is actually the 1959 Busch Bavarian Beer card, a regional distribution out of the St. Louis area!
C) Can’t forget about 1961 Essex Meats!