The 1965 season was a very memorable one in Major League Baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series that year, led by future Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. It was also a pivotal year for the sport’s iconic cardboard collectibles – baseball cards. The 1965 Topps set featured some of the most iconic and valuable vintage cards ever produced.
One of the most notable rookies featured that year was a fireballing right-hander from Southern California named Sandy Koufax. Fresh off winning his first Cy Young award in 1965, Koufax’s rookie card is one of the key standouts from the set in mint condition. In a PSA 10 gem mint grade, Koufax’s rookie commands well over $10,000 due to his eventual success and status as a true legend of the game. Even in lower grades like PSA 8 or 9, this card still fetches thousands due to the rarity of high grade Koufax rookies surviving nearly 60 years.
Another all-time great with a valuable 1965 issue is legendary switch hitter Mickey Mantle. Known as The Commerce Comet, Mantle was in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career in 1965 but was still producing at an All-Star level for the Yankees. Mantle’s 1965 card looks substantially different from his more common 1952 and 1953 Topps rookie cards due to the change in the set design. A high graded Mantle ’65 can sell for over $5,000 today. Like Koufax, even well-circulated but higher graded Mantle ’65s still trade hands for $2,000 or more.
While Koufax and Mantle highlight the headliners from ’65, there are several other notable young stars whose rookie cards have appreciation exponentially over decades. One is Boston Red Sox left-hander Jim Lonborg, who won the 1967 Cy Young award. Lonborg had a breakout season in 1965 that made his rookie card very desirable. In a PSA 10 grade, it can net over $6,000 at auction due to its rarity and subject’s later success. Even PSA 8 copies still sell for $1,000+ due to Lonborg’s value.
Another prized rookie from the set is future 300-game winner Don Sutton of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Known as “Sudden” for his blazing fastball, Sutton debuted in 1965 and immediately showed ace upside for the storied Dodgers. High graded versions of his promising rookie card in a PSA 10 can surpass $4,000 at auction. Even well-circulated PSA 6 copies still trade hands for $300-500 given Sutton’s Hall of Fame career.
Two other notable young stars who debuted in 1965 were pitchers Jim Kaat and Dick Ellsworth. Both had blossoming careers ahead of them starting in 1965 which makes their rookie cards quite collectible today. A PSA 10 Kaat rookie can sell for $3,000 while Ellsworth tops out around $2,000 in the same grade due to his 24 win season of 1966 that made him an All-Star. Even lower graded versions still hold value due to the players’ quality careers.
One unique element about the 1965 set is the inclusion of the inaugural season for two expansion franchises – the Houston Astros and Kansas City/Oakland A’s. Because of this, the set features the rookie cards of Bob Aspromonte, Don Nottebart, Ken Johnson and others who were among the first players for these teams. Their scarcity due to the expansion franchises makes these early Astros and A’s cards quite valuable to collectors today in higher grades.
The 1965 Topps set truly established the modern vintage market due to its timeless photos and capturing so many future stars in their early seasons. Flagship rookie cards like Koufax, Mantle, Lonborg and Sutton continue to gain in prestige and price due to their subjects’ lasting impact on the game. Added to this are the scarcer expansion players and key young performers that drove collectors wild in the 1960s and still excite the hobby today. The 1965 Topps set endures as one of the most prized rainbows in any collector’s vintage baseball card collection.