Rare baseball cards: A list of the most valuable and unique baseball cards

Rare baseball cards: A list of the most valuable and unique baseball cards

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:21 PM

Baseball cards are among the most valuable collectables available in the sports memorabilia market. While most are readily available in stores, several rare baseball cards have approached seven-figure territory. They once brought in $1 billion in annual sales.

Rare baseball cards: A list of the most valuable and unique baseball cards
A man sells vintage baseball cards on September 21, 2008, at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo: Chris McGrath
Source: Getty Images

Some of these rare baseball memorabilia have been valued at more than $1 million a piece.

How to find rare baseball cards

Online marketplaces like eBay, Craigslist, individual baseball collectables websites, and others are some of the most popular places to find them. Naturally, you should not anticipate immediately finding a tonne of rare cards once you log on to the internet.

The difficulty in locating them is the whole point. Even though it might be a little simpler to find them online than in person, you should not anticipate it to be a walk in the park. Find some vendors who specialise in selling them by doing some thorough research.

Top 10 most expensive baseball cards in 2023

Baseball enjoys enormous global appeal, especially in America, where it originated. Baseball fans can purchase all kinds of stuff and memorabilia, but baseball cards may be the most well-known and fun to collect.

10. 1909 American Caramel "Shoeless" Joe Jackson | $667,149

How to find rare baseball cards
The American Caramel Joe Jackson. Photo: @tradercracks, @SportsCollector (modified by author)
Source: Twitter

Jackson is a well-known player linked with the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal, in which the White Sox were accused of fixing games. He is remembered in films like "Eight Men Out" and "Field of Dreams." The 1909 American Caramel Joe Jackson, the most sought-after in the E90-1 Caramel set, brought in $667,149 when auctioned off in 2016.

9. 1963 Topps Pete Rose | $717,000

Rare baseball cards worth money
1963 Topps Pete Rose. Photo: @mosley_mark, @cardboardicons (modified by author)
Source: Twitter

The Pete Rose 1963 Topps, which received a perfect 10 grade from the PSA, last sold for $717,000 at auction. Because they are so uncommon, perfect ten cards are valued up to one hundred thousand times higher than cards of lower calibre.

Rose is regarded as the Hit King with a total of 4,256 hits. He was disqualified from baseball and the Hall of Fame because he used to bet on games.

8. 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson | $1.006 million

A significant example of how far the hobby has advanced is a Jackson rookie from the Dmitri Young Collection that sold for $1,005,600 in February 2021 and was graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA. One of the February Platinum's most startling results was not entirely unexpected, but it was still astounding.

Another instance of a highly-graded iconic card, setting a remarkable record and signifying another incredible market surge, was the 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson, a high-end, low-population card. In the 1970s and 1980s, Jackson was among the best players in the American League (AL) with 563 career home runs.

7. 2011 Topps Mike Trout | $1.05 million

Rare baseball cards 2023
2011 Topps Mike Trout. Photo: @Jimmymak22, @CardsBoulevard (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The 1/1 2011 Topps Update Platinum Mike Trout rookie cost $1.05 million to buy in July 2021 thanks to an investment fund established by Scott Keeney, aka DJ Skee and supported by the venture capitalist brothers Carter and Courtney Reum. PWCC Marketplace was involved in the deal-making.

It is currently the second most expensive Trout memorabilia ever sold, behind only the 2009 Bowman Chrome Superfractor that sold for $3.9 million in August 2020. At that price, it is the most expensive Trout rookie ever sold and the most money ever spent on a baseball card produced by Topps after 1960.

6. 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente | $1.107 million

Rare baseball cards for sale
Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps. Photo: Gordon Chibroski
Source: Getty Images

At an auction in September 2022, a rookie card of Roberto Clemente from 1955 Topps brought more than $1 million. According to PWCC Marketplace representatives, it sold for $1.05 million, making it the second-most expensive Clemente memorabilia ever, just behind the one that sold for $1.107 million.

On December 31, 1972, Roberto Clemente tragically perished in a plane accident en route to Nicaragua to aid earthquake victims. With the Pirates, Clemente completed his Hall of Fame career as an All-Star 15 times, four-time batting champion, two-time World Series champion, and World Series MVP.

5. 1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth | $2.46 million

Rare baseball cards from the 80s
1916 Babe Ruth baseball. Photo: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post
Source: Getty Images

His inclusion on the list with two cards is no surprise, given that he was among the most well-known athletes of the 20th century. It is highly sought after because it depicts him playing for the Boston Red Sox before his infamous New York Yankees trade.

Dent's Mile High Card Company set a record for a Ruth rookie card when it sold it to an unidentified buyer for $2.46 million in an online auction on November 20, 2021. It also sold for $600,000 six years ago.

4. 2009 Bowman Draft Mike Trout | $3.936 million

Most records eventually fall, and the T206 Honus Wagner no longer holds the record for being the most expensive baseball card ever purchased. In the wee hours of Sunday, August 23, 2020, the 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Mike Trout Superfractor autograph sold for $3.936 million through Goldin Auctions.

That not only surpasses but destroys the 1909–11 T206 Honus Wagner's previous world record. A replica of the Wagner, known as the "Jumbo Wagner", sold for $3.12 million in 2016. In 2007, Ken Kendrick, owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, paid $2.8 million for the "Gretzky Wagner," the most infamously variant.

3. 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth | $4.212 million

Most valuable baseball cards 1970s and 1980s
Colour lithograph portrait of George Herman "Babe" Ruth swinging a bat. Photo: Transcendental Graphics
Source: Getty Images

The Babe still wields considerable influence. Early on July 11, it became clear at Memory Lane Inc. when three Babe Ruth baseball cards each exceeded the million-dollar mark. A 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth set the pace, selling for $4,212,000 after the buyer's premium.

There are four different from Babe Ruth in the set, and the 1933 Goudey card is #53. The hardest of the four portrait cards is the one with a yellow background. Only this particular copy of #53 received a Mint 9 rating from PSA.

2. 1909 T-206 Honus Wagner | $7.25 million

Rare baseball cards 2023
Honus Wagner of the Pittsburgh Pirates 1909 T206 Trading Card. Photo: Sporting News
Source: Getty Images

The rare baseball card is worth a lot of money. The American Tobacco Company created the 1909 T-206 Wagner card. It was sold for $6.6 million in August 2021; a year later, on August 4, 2022, a record-breaking $7.25 million was paid for it.

Since they were so rare, the Honus Wagner memorabilia served as the Holy Grail of baseball collecting for many years. Only 50 of these had been made before Wagner demanded that the American Tobacco Company recall them because they had been made without his consent. Additionally, it has been reported that he objected to marketing cigarettes to kids.

1. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle | $12.6 million

Rare baseball cards
The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card from the collection of Marshall Fogel. Photo: Matt Dirksen
Source: Getty Images

The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle with a 9.5 grade from grader SGC was sold with Heritage Auctions for $12.6 million, including buyer's premium, in August 2022. It is the highest price ever for any sports memorabilia or a sports card.

In 1991, Anthony Giordano, a businessman in waste management from New Jersey, paid $50,000 for 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. An earlier iteration sold for a record-breaking $5.2 million in June 2021 before the August auction.

Starting in the early 1930s, packs of baseball cards included an extra piece of chewing gum, which made them popular among fans, especially kids. The public's intense interest in nostalgia and the enormous rise in popularity of "rookies," or the ones featuring players in their first Major League Baseball season, brought the skyrocketing values of these rare baseball memorabilia, which started to rise in the 1980s and 90s.

READ ALSO: Who is the best baseball player of all time? The ten greatest baseball players ever ranked.

Sportsbrief has published an article about the best baseball player of all time. Whether rookies or veterans, they regularly demonstrate their talents on the baseball pitch.

These incredible baseball players of all time, who range from ace pitchers to elite shortstops to highlight-reel catching outfielders, have earned their reputations by outperforming everyone else. Click the above link to read more!

Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.