Graig Nettles is hailed as one of the greatest defensive third basemen in history. He was also a clutch power hitter for four pennant-winning Yankees teams during the 1970s and 1980s. Review some of the best Graig Nettles card options to add to your collection.
For more than two decades, Graig Nettles manned the hot corner for the Twins, Indians, Yankees, Padres, Braves, and Expos. He was named to six All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves over his career. Nettles also took advantage of the short porch in Yankee Stadium and ended his career as the all-time home run leader amongst American League third basemen, passing Orioles great Brooks Robinson. Many consider Graig Nettles' career to be similar to Cubs great Ron Santo, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.
On the cardboard front, the Graig Nettles rookie card appeared in 1969 Topps. Most of the best cards came from Nettles' early years during the 1970s. In his retirement, Nettles has appeared numerous times as an autograph signer, most often as a Yankee. Given his starring role on two Yankees' championship teams, along with his Hall of Fame-caliber résumé, Nettles will likely remain a pertinent figure in the hobby.
This list looks at a few of the best Graig Nettles cards, which include his rookie, notable cards from throughout his playing career, and several modern autographs. Nearly all of these cards are very affordable.
Top 10 Graig Nettles Baseball Cards
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10. 1977 Topps 1976 Home Run Leaders Graig Nettles, Mike Schmidt #2
Nettles only led the league in a major statistical category once during his career, but it happened to coincide with Mike Schmidt capturing his third straight home run title in the National League. The end result of the third baseman duo winning their league's respective home run crowns was the League Leaders card near the front of the 1977 Topps set. Raw copies of this card are plentiful, inexpensive, and a must-have for any collection of Nettles cards.
9. 2008 Upper Deck Yankee Stadium Legacy Collection Graig Nettles Jersey #YSM-GN
Upper Deck commemorated the final season for Yankee Stadium in 2008 by creating a monolithic 6,752-card insert. A card was issued for every home game played at the iconic home ballpark and the cards were inserted into various 2008 and 2009 Upper Deck products. The set also featured autographs and memorabilia cards, including a Graig Nettles jersey relic. Nettles thrived with the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium, helping the team win the World Series in both 1977 and 1978.
While there are dozens of inexpensive Graig Nettles relic cards out there, this Yankee Stadium Legacy card stands out above the rest, and is worth a little extra time and money to track down as it celebrates the best years of his career.
8. 1977 Burger King Yankees Graig Nettles #15
Burger King sold baseball cards for several years during the late-1970s in select markets. The Yankees were one of the teams that had cards available locally with the purchase of a sandwich. These fast food cards are nearly identical to the regular options from 1977 Topps Baseball, and are often mistaken for the flagship set. However, the card numbers are different on the Burger King cards, with Nettles serving as #15 in this set and #20 in the main Topps release. This was the first of the Burger King Yankees sets made and it has remained popular with collectors many decades later. This is generally an affordable Nettles card, but clean raw and high-graded copies definitely carry a premium.
7. 1975 Hostess Graig Nettles #24
Part of another food set, Hostess baseball cards were attached to side panels of the company's various products. Collectors hand-cut the panel of three cards from the boxes, which are still occasionally intact, and then separate the individual cards. All of the cutting has made these cards condition-sensitive and highly collectable. The uncut Hostess panel with Nettles features Hall of Famer Lou Brock and former Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers, who was still with the Angels at this point in his career.
Beyond all of the usual condition factors, the 1975 Hostess Graig Nettles card has one other quirk that has made it popular. The snack company misspelled Graig as "Craig" on the front of the card. The error was never corrected, so there is only one version of the card.
6. 1970 Topps Graig Nettles #491
Nettles' second-year Topps card is another key choice with his collectors. 1970 Topps also marked his first standalone baseball card. While this gray-bordered set lacks some of the design appeal offered by other Topps releases from the era, there are some great cards for Yankee collectors in here. The Thurman Munson rookie is one of the best cards in the entire set, while Reggie Jackson and Graig Nettles each have important second-year cards. Neither the Jackson nor the Nettles card shows the players in pinstripes, as both were still a few years away from landing in the Bronx, but both cards are still popular with Yankees collectors.
5. 1971 Topps Graig Nettles #324
The 1971 Topps set has long been considered one of the best overall flagship designs. This early Nettles card is highly desired for many of the same reasons as the other cards in this product. The black-bordered style stands out from other templates that Topps has used, and collectors seeking cards of players from this era often prioritize these cards. Nettles can be found for reasonable prices, but copies with clean edges and corners, plus a well-centered picture, carry a premium that can be steep.
4. 1973 Topps Graig Nettles #498
Topps had some interesting attempts at airbrushing during the 1970s, including this gem from 1973 Topps after Graig Nettles was traded from the Indians to the Yankees. The photo originally showed the slugging third baseman wearing a road Indians uniform, but the transformation into a Yankees jersey missed many important details. Most notable is the incorrect hue of blue on the socks and batting helmet along with the NY logo on the front of the jersey in place of "New York" spelled out in block letters. For many who collected during the era, this Graig Nettles card represents one of the most unique cards of their generation.
3. 1999 Fleer Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game Autographs Graig Nettles
Nettles has frequently appeared in modern baseball card products on the autograph checklist. The Fleer Sports Illustrated Greats of the Game signature was his first certified autograph and it remains a top choice for collectors. The cards are plentiful and come at a lower price, especially when compared to some of Nettles' more recent autographs. Similar to the majority of Graig Nettles autograph cards, this one displays him in a Yankees uniform.
2. 2001 Topps Archives Autographs Graig Nettles
Topps released 2001 Archives in conjunction with the 50th year of producing baseball cards. Archives featured reprints of the first and last cards for notable players in Topps sets throughout the years, along with an incredible autograph checklist that was loaded with Hall of Fame stars. Nettles appears in both the base set and as an autograph signer. Topps did change the design of his rookie card, which originally included a second player, to showcase just Nettles. He has appeared in more recent Archives products as a signer, but Topps only used his rookie card for the 2001 set.
1. 1969 Topps Twins 1969 Rookie Stars Danny Morris, Graig Nettles RC #99
1969 Topps is best known for the rookie cards of Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers, but there is a solid group of rookies beyond those two Hall of Famers. All-Star players from the era with first-year cards include Nettles, Amos Otis and Al Oliver. The Graig Nettles rookie card also offers collectors the challenge of finding both an error and corrected error variation.
The difference between the two cards is a small loop that appears near "Twins" in the blue circle. The error has the loop and the corrected version removes it so that the design matches the rest of the '69 set.
In addition, there is a very similar OPC version that was printed in Canada.