The year 1977 brought us the Star Wars movie franchise, the start of Apple Computers, and Reggie Jackson's three-home run performance in Game 6, helping the New York Yankees to a World Series crown. That same year, the baseball card hobby provided some great rookie cards of players who went on to earn enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as a healthy selection of veteran players already on their way to Cooperstown. Throw in an eccentric young pitcher and one of the more popular players from the 1980s, and you've got a memorable mix within the top 1977 baseball cards.
The mid-1970s offered collectors some great Hall of Fame rookie cards, such as George Brett, Robin Yount and Dennis Eckersley, along with several greats of the decade, including Dave Parker. For years, the 1977 Topps set was not seen as equal to 1975 Topps and 1976 Topps due to a lack of quality first-year cards. Hall of Fame voters were eventually persuaded to add players with rookie cards in 1977, helping to enhance its desirability and popularity.
Topps had continued to improve the production of baseball card sets throughout the 1970s, outside of the lingering issues with centering. However, 1977 Topps marked a step back in production quality. The card stock used for the product was thin and flimsy, often resulting in worn corners and edges that were more susceptible to creasing and wrinkles. The frequent condition flaws have created a wide range of prices. Mint condition copies of Hall of Fame players and important rookies can be amongst the most expensive cards from this era, but collectors on a budget can still find some great cards with minor condition flaws.
Although Topps was the lone major brand release during the 1977 calendar year, there were still other options for collectors. Kellogg's and Hostess continued to produce their popular baseball cards that were included with the purchase of food products. They were joined by Burger King in 1977. The restaurant chain dabbled in regionally distributed baseball cards for the better part of a decade, contributing a few important rookie cards along the way.
There were numerous Hall of Famers who appeared in 1977 baseball card products, along with other players from this era who are extraordinarily popular with fans and collectors. This list narrows a wide selection of cards and features rookie cards, oddballs and team issues.
Do you have any other treasured 1977 baseball cards in your collection? Let us know in the comments.
Top 1977 Baseball Cards to Collect
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10. 1977 Hostess Mark Fidrych #46
Mark Fidrych was one of the great personalities in Major League Baseball during the late 1970s. He burst onto the scene with the 1976 Detroit Tigers, capturing the Rookie of the Year and finishing high in both the Cy Young and MVP Award voting. Beyond being a great pitcher, "The Bird" was beloved for his many quirky behaviors on the field, such as talking to the ball during the game, walking a circle around the mound after every out, and patting down the dirt during the game. Even though Fidrych's career quickly faded, he remains a popular figure with collectors from this era. The former Tigers pitcher had several rookie-year cards, including this 1977 Hostess card. The hand-cut card came on the side panel of Hostess snacks, making it condition-sensitive. Collectors can also track down copies of this Fidrych card attached to an uncut panel.
9. 1977 Calbee Oh Series Hank Aaron/Sadaharu Oh #93
The 1976 Topps set featured the last card of the then-home run king, Hank Aaron, as a player. Outside of a few oddballs, Hank Aaron was absent from most of the major card releases in 1977. However, Japanese card maker Calbee managed to include the all-time great in a 1977 product celebrating Japanese home run king, Sadaharu Oh. The picture on the card comes from a home run derby event the two superstars participated in during the 1974 offseason. The Calbee cards were a food-based issue that came in bags of potato chips, so the cards can have condition issues. Calbee baseball cards do not appear stateside very often, but still show up on the secondary market from time to time. These have high demand and can be very expensive, but are well worth the cost for collectors looking for unique cards of their favorite players.
8. 1977 Topps Nolan Ryan #650
There are dozens of Hall of Famers with popular cards in the 1977 Topps set, including Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose. However, the Nolan Ryan card in this set is often the equal, in terms of demand and pricing, of the key rookie cards. The "Ryan Express" was well on his way to Cooperstown at this point in time with several no-hitters and a few 300-strikeout seasons already on his résumé.
Ryan has long maintained a large following in the baseball card hobby, which has helped to elevate the status of his mid-career cards. Furthermore, the condition issues with 1977 Topps have altered the secondary market for this card. Clean and high-grade copies experience strong demand and can often be quite expensive. Topps also made a supplemental 1977 Cloth Sticker set, with Nolan Ryan included on the limited checklist, which offers collectors another great option.
7. 1977 Topps Reggie Jackson #10
Did anyone have a better 1977 than Reggie Jackson? The slugging Hall of Fame right-fielder signed the richest free-agent contract in baseball history with the Yankees prior to the season. Reggie would lead the Yankees to the Fall Classic where he earned the World Series MVP with a performance that included a three-home run game against the Dodgers. Topps was quick to add the newest Bronx Bomber to the 1977 set, which is one of his more popular cards.
It is worth noting that the '77 card is heavily airbrushed and has become surrounded by intrigue over time. Jackson had played the 1976 season with the Baltimore Orioles and there is an extremely rare 1977 Topps proof card showing him in an Orioles uniform. There are reportedly fewer than 10 copies of the proof card, one of which sold for $60,000 in 2016. Collectors looking for a more reasonable card showing Jackson's lone season with the Orioles can check out the team checklist card.
6. 1977 Topps Mark Fidrych RC #265
The most popular Mark Fidrych rookie card hails from the 1977 Topps set. At the time of release, there was no bigger rookie card on the checklist than Fidrych. The portrait photograph on the card did a great job of capturing Fidrych's wild, curly hair and happy-go-lucky personality. The iconic Topps All-Star Rookie Cup logo at in the bottom corner adds to the overall appeal of this card, which remains one of the more popular non-Hall of Fame rookies from the 1970s. Clean editions and high-grade cards can be pricey, but there are plenty of affordable copies to be found if you are looking to own one of the classic cards from this era.
5. 1977 TCMA Evansville Triplets Jack Morris #247
TCMA was the largest manufacturer of Minor League Baseball cards during the 1970s. While many of the sets and single cards can easily be found for little money, there are a few standout cards with high demand and steep prices. The Evansville Triplets card of Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris is a card that fits into the latter category. This Jack Morris pre-rookie can be found as both a single card and included in the team set. Tigers collectors frequently opt for the team set. There are no other Hall of Famers on the checklist, but several members of the beloved 1984 World Series team do make an appearance, which makes the set more popular. Single copies do not show up often and this ranks as one of his more expensive cards.
4. 1977 Montreal Expos Postcards Andre Dawson
The Montreal Expos issued a set of team postcards every year the franchise was in existence, from 1969 until 2004 when the team moved to Washington, D.C. Andre Dawson shared his Topps rookie card with three other players, but the Expos Postcard has the added appeal of being a solo rookie. The oversized card features a simple design with a borderless picture and a white bar with the player name at the bottom of the card. This card is not an easy find, but the majority of copies have aged well and are in good condition when they do pop up.
Collectors should pay careful attention to the player picture, as many of the Expos Postcard sets from this era have nearly identical designs and always featured players wearing their home white Expos uniforms. The 1977 card can be distinguished from his other appearances by the fact that he is sporting a batting helmet.
3. 1977 Topps Bruce Sutter RC #144
Bruce Sutter is one of the players enshrined in Cooperstown with a rookie card in the 1977 Topps set. While this was a very good card during his playing days, it has gained in stature and popularity after his retirement. Sutter lingered on the Hall of Fame ballot for years, missing necessary votes by a wide margin. However, similar to other players like Tim Raines, Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez, his candidacy and importance to the game became more defined over time. Collectors took notice of Bruce Sutter and began to push the demand for his important cards, including this rookie card. In spite of the added attention, Sutter cards remain plentiful and affordable, offering an excellent option for collectors looking at Hall of Fame rookies from this era.
2. 1977 Topps Dale Murphy RC #476 (with Gary Alexander/Rick Cerone/Kevin Pasley)
Dale Murphy was one of the most popular players on the field and in the baseball card hobby throughout the late 1970s and 1980s. While Murphy is not in the Hall of Fame, he had a strong career with two National League MVP Awards, along with multiple Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards. His 1977 Topps card has long been one of the most important rookies from the late 1970s and was held in higher esteem than other Hall of Fame rookie cards in the set. Clean copies remain popular on the secondary market, which has been heightened due to the previously mentioned issues with 1977 Topps cards. If you are collecting cards from the 1970s, this is a must-own.
1. 1977 Topps Andre Dawson RC #473 (with Gene Richards/John Scott/Denny Walling)
Andre Dawson is another player, similar to Sutter, who faced a long road to the Hall of Fame. "The Hawk" has always been fairly popular with collectors and this rookie issue is a favorite from 1977 Topps. The Andre Dawson rookie had a large presence in the secondary market, but the cost and demand continued to rise over the years. This Dawson rookie card is shared with other players who lack star power, but collectors have come around to Hall of Fame rookie cards with a similar format from the late 1970s and early 1980s, such as Lou Whitaker and Cal Ripken Jr. The 1977 Topps Andre Dawson card is another must-own from this year. With a wide range of prices, there is a copy of this card that can fit into any collection.