Dave Parker, also known as "The Cobra," was one of the most intimidating hitters during the 1970s and 1980s, winning the 1978 National League MVP, along with helping the “We Are Family” Pirates to claim the World Series title in 1979. The baseball cards from his playing career span from the 1970s to the 1990s, but he has also appeared in numerous modern sets, including dozens as an autograph signer. This list showcases some of the best and most popular Dave Parker cards available to collectors.
Parker’s career in Major League Baseball began in 1973 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. During his decade-plus with the Pirates, Parker established himself as an offensive force winning two batting titles. He also partnered with Hall of Famer Willie Stargell to form one of the most potent middle-of-the-lineup duos of the era. Parker would eventually return to his hometown of Cincinnati to spend a few seasons playing for the Reds before closing out his career in the American League as a designated hitter.
Fans can find the Dave Parker rookie card in the 1974 Topps set. Many of his other early cards remain a key choice for collectors, as well, appearing in some of the most acclaimed mainstream and oddball releases. As Parker’s career continued into the 1980s, the card industry entered the "Junk Wax Era." Because of this, there were numerous cards made of the superstar slugger with a seemingly endless supply. However, there are also some unique cards of Dave Parker from this timeframe that collectors have found enjoyment in adding to their collections.
"The Cobra" remains a relevant and revered figure in the baseball card hobby to this day. There is still demand amongst collectors for his cards from the 1970s and 1980s, and Parker regularly appears in current card sets. In addition, he has signed consistently for various card companies and brands for the better part of the last twenty years.
This guide examines several notable Dave Parker cards. The top list highlights options from his entire career through current releases, choosing the very best and most in-demand cards from his extensive catalog.
Top 10 Dave Parker Baseball Cards
Bolded links go directly to detailed product profiles or player guides when available.
10. 1989 Mother's Cookies Dave Parker #4
For two years near the end of his career, Parker joined forces with Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Mark McGwire on the Oakland Athletics. He helped the A's make the World Series twice, taking home the pennant in 1989. The "Junk Wax Era" was in its prime at this point, so there are quite a few mass-produced cards of Parker. However, the Mother’s Cookies sets have long attracted collectors looking for something different. Utilizing rounded edges, the borderless cards feature a posed photograph. Parker also appears in the 1988 A’s team set, but the World Series-winning team gets a slight nod from the collecting community.
9. 1984 Fleer Update Dave Parker #U89
1984 Fleer Update is one of the gems from the 1980s, featuring rookie cards of Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, and Dwight Gooden. There is also some good veteran content in this set, including Dave Parker, that has risen in popularity and value over the years. A large number of these Fleer Update cards ended up at grading services with a healthy number of high-quality copies available to collectors, likely due to the fact that the cards were distributed as a set and later broken up for singles. As for Parker, the card was one his first as a Red and marked a homecoming for the Cincinnati native.
8. 1976 Hostess Dave Parker #133
The 1970s and '80s Hostess cards still enjoy solid attention from collectors. The company attached the cards to the side panels of their different snacks. As a result, these cards are condition sensitive and the quality is largely dependent on the person who hand-cut it. The 1976 Hostess set is full of star power, including a rookie card of Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, and one of the final cards for Hank Aaron. Dave Parker can be found attached to other cards on the side-panel or as a single.
7. 1985 Reds Yearbook Dave Parker #39
The Reds inserted these white-bordered baseball cards into their team yearbook in 1985. The cards are similar to the All-Star Game Program inserts, but the team only made the set part of their yearbook once. The yearbook cards have perforated edges, which has made them a popular choice to have graded, and it also has one of the tougher Eric Davis rookies. The Dave Parker card is amongst his best and most sought-after cards from his time in Cincinnati.
6. 1999 Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game Dave Parker Autograph
Parker’s first certified autograph came out of the 1999 Sports Illustrated set that revolved around stars and Hall of Fame players. The autographed cards are all on Sports Illustrated covers with a small white space at the bottom for the player’s signature. Collectors interested in the Greats of the Game releases can find Parker in every single edition of the set. However, the 1999 Parker autograph, along with his 2000 and 2001 versions, were signed on-card, while the later cards were stickers. The 2000 and 2001 Greats sets have a simpler and cleaner design, but as a star of the 1970s, the photograph of the pinstriped Parker on the front of this card has great appeal.
5. Upper Deck Premier Roberto Clemente/Dave Parker/Jason Bay Quad Relic #TEAM-CPB
Premier is a high-end autograph and relic set full of Hall of Fame and Superstar cards. Multi-relic cards are one of the most popular aspects of this product, and often paired some of the best names from a franchise’s past with a current player. This card combines the iconic Roberto Clemente with Parker, and adds former Rookie of the Year Jason Bay. Obviously, the presence of Roberto Clemente makes this a very tough card to find. It is also more costly than many of the other Dave Parker relic cards issued over the years.
4. 2001 Topps Archives Autograph Dave Parker #TTA66
Considered one of the best Archives sets of all-time, the 2001 edition has a robust checklist of signers. Each player has a reprint of their first and last Topps card in the base set. If the player appeared in the autograph checklist, Topps often used the rookie reprint as the signature card. While Parker has signed for numerous Topps products over the years, this is the only set that has used his 1974 card, or that year's design. There are also many more Dave Parker autographs out there.
3. 1975 Topps Dave Parker #75
1975 Topps is one of the most recognizable base sets in the history of the hobby. The product is best known for its bright, loud colors, and the abundance of rookie cards, including George Brett, Robin Yount, and Gary Carter. The second-year Parker card is a popular and affordable option. This card also appears in the 1975 Topps Mini set.
2. 1974-1975 Venezuelan Magellanes Sticker
Winter league cards from Latin America have always been a little tricky to track down, especially some of the older sets. Dave Parker was a fixture in the Venezuelan Winter League during the early parts of his career, and he has several different sticker cards from his time there. His 1974-1975 Magellanes Sticker is the best of these, which is easily one of the most expensive and condition-sensitive of his cards. If the price of this card causes a case of sticker shock, there are a few different Venezuelan card companies that have put out reprints along the same lines as the Topps Archives sets.
1. 1974 Topps Dave Parker RC #252
There were many multi-player prospect cards in the 1974 Topps set. Considering Dave Parker only played about a third of the season in 1973, it is a little surprising that he has a standalone rookie card. Although, in retrospect, Topps seems to have done a great job of picking out the best rookie players to put on their own card in 1974. Dave Winfield is another significant name with his own card. The demand for both raw and graded copies of this Parker card is healthy. While the product lags behind some of the other Topps sets from the 1970s in terms of popularity, the 1974 Topps Dave Parker rookie card still remains the quintessential card of "The Cobra" with collectors.