As a Hall of Fame tight end and Super Bowl-winning coach for "da Bears," fans have several reasons to add some Mike Ditka cards to their collection. Led by his cardboard debut in 1962, enjoy some of the best cards from "Iron Mike."
Ditka played for the Chicago Bears for six seasons and he helped pave the way for the offensive-focused tight ends now commonplace in modern football. A key part of the Bears 1963 NFL Championship team, he would be the Bears coach the next time they were champions in Super Bowl XX. Ditka finished his playing career with the Dallas Cowboys, winning Super Bowl VI.
As was sometimes the case with the larger NFL stars in the 1960s and 1970s, Ditka did not agree on a contract with Topps. As a result, following 1968 Topps, he wouldn't have another Topps card as a player. This means that Ditka has no Topps cards from his time with the Dallas Cowboys.
Some may recall that Pro Line issued a nine-card set at the 1992 National Sports Collectors Convention that featured Ditka exclusively. This includes a rare appearance with Ditka as a Cowboy to more unique cards of "Iron Mike" playing golf, smoking a cigar and eating a sandwich.
Other notable Mike Ditka cards include an early appearance in 1963 Stancraft Playing Cards with Ditka as the five of diamonds. In addition, Ditka is teamed with Bears legendary running back Gale Sayers on a dual autograph in 2015 Topps Definitive, and he is featured as the Bears coach on autograph cards in 2015 Topps Diamond Football and 2016 Panini Playbook.
Mike Ditka was the rare player with Hall of Fame success on the field and as a coach, and his few trading cards from his playing day remain popular. This list was constructed with card value as the main determining factor, along with a focus on Ditka's rookie cards and other early appearances.
Top 10 Mike Ditka Football Cards
Click on the titles or images to shop for specific cards on eBay. Linked sets in the descriptions go straight to product profiles.
10. 1985 McDonald's Mike Ditka
Though not as rare as his Cowboys cards, collectors looking for options from Ditka's time as head coach for the Bears have just a few choices. The key card honors the Bears' Super Bowl win and was released by McDonald's in 1985. Instead of having the foil scratch-off area at the bottom of the card, this special offering would get the card owner a buy-one-get-one-free deal if the Bears won the Super Bowl.
9. 1964 Wheaties Football Card Stamp Mike Ditka
Almost square in shape, these stamps were available as a promo through Wheaties cereal boxes in 1964. The cards have a simple design with just a white border and facsimile signature on a color photograph. Ditka is shown with a dirty practice uniform and you get the feeling that it was not ideal to be the defensive player lined up across from him.
In total, 70 players and four team logo cards (Vikings, Giants, Cardinals and 49ers) were included in the set. The entire Wheaties stamp set could be kept in a special album.
8. 1965 Philadelphia Mike Ditka #19
While all of the early Mike Ditka cards feature his trademark buzz cut, there might not be a better card that showcases the high-and-tight look than 1965 Philadelphia. The '65 set was the second from Philadelphia and Ditka's card is the highlight for Bears collectors, along with a card of coach George Halas. Ditka would ultimately win 106 games as the Bears' head coach, trailing only Halas in franchise history.
7. 1964 Philadelphia Mike Ditka #17
1964 Philadelphia cut the football card market in half as Topps had the AFL players and the Philadelphia Gum Company would feature NFL players. Ditka was a rock solid player for the Bears, never missing a game while with the team, and he was selected for five straight Pro Bowl appearances.
6. 1989-97 Goal Line Hall of Fame Mike Ditka Autograph #39
Between 1989 and 1997, the Pro Football Hall of Fame issued several series of art cards featuring paintings by artist Gary Thomas. Part of the second release, Ditka is shown catching the ball and about to score a touchdown. Cards were limited to 5,000 copies and the NFL also issued an amazing complete set at the end of the print run for $4,000.
Ditka has also signed for other sets over his lifetime. Review the available Mike Ditka autograph cards on eBay.
5. 1963 Kahn's Mike Ditka
Like the Kahn's baseball cards, the football sets began with teams around the Ohio and Pennsylvania area and gradually expanded in subsequent sets. By the 1963 edition, players from all of the NFL teams were included in the 92-card checklist. The 1963 set was also the first to feature a white border around the black-and-white photograph. Card backs were pretty basic with only simple personal info and career highlights.
4. 1962 Topps Football Bucks Mike Ditka #47
1962 Topps advertised "Football Bucks" in every pack and collectors could find a piece of fake currency featuring the top players of the day in denominations of $1, $5, and $10. As an up-and-coming player, Ditka was given a $1 bill and his card features a sketch of Wrigley Field which casual fans might not know was the home of the Bears from 1921 to 1970. This card is the first of three Ditka rookie-year appearances covered on the list.
3. 1963 Topps Mike Ditka #62
The back of this second-year Mike Ditka card from 1963 Topps highlights his college career at Pittsburgh. Mike was actually given the nickname of "Iron Mike" because he hailed from the steel state of Pennsylvania. With 170 cards, this was an odd number as Topps' sets were usually divisible by 132. Since Topps organized their '63 checklist by team, the Browns, Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins and Steelers players are short prints.
2. 1962 Post Cereal Mike Ditka RC #111
While Topps is king, an under-the-radar Mike Ditka rookie card can be found in the '62 Post football set. Seemingly random cards on the checklist hold high value with collectors because they are difficult to find. Fortunately, Ditka's card is more readily available on the secondary market.
1. 1962 Topps Mike Ditka RC #17
With dual images, the 1962 Topps set features a color portrait photo and a black-and-white action shot for each player. Ditka would burst into the league and have a huge impact on the Bears' offense, taking home the 1961 Rookie of the Year. Given the black border, high-grades are quite rare, so even near-mint copies of the Mike Ditka rookie card can top $800 at auction.