The 1970s was a transformative decade for the hobby of baseball card collecting. Throughout the decade, the popularity of collecting cards grew significantly thanks to stars like Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, and Nolan Ryan rising to prominence. During this boom period, Topps baseball cards reigned supreme as the leading brand in the industry. While common cards from the 1970s in average condition can be obtained for just a few dollars, some rare finds and stars of the era have grown exceedingly valuable over the past 50 years. Here are some of the most valuable and sought-after Topps baseball cards produced in the 1970s:

1971 Hank Aaron (#160) – Arguably the top card from the 1971 set, Hank Aaron’s rookie card holds tremendous significance as it was issued during the season he broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. In mint condition, this card has sold for over $150,000, making it one of the most expensive cards of the 1970s. Even well-centered copies in near mint to mint condition will fetch thousands.

1975 Ron Cey (#650) – One of the biggest errors in Topps history, Ron Cey’s rookie card was inadvertently left out of the initial 1975 set printing. When Topps attempted to correct this by including Cey in a subsequent run, they neglected to change the checklist on the back, making this one of the truest rookie card errors. Just a handful are known to exist, with one copy selling for over $57,000 in 2017.


1970 Nolan Ryan (#480) – As one of the most dominant pitchers who ever lived, cards of Nolan Ryan’s early career are extremely desirable. His 1970 rookie PSA 9 is valued around $15,000 today. Higher grades could potentially sell for well over $20,000 given Ryan’s legendary status.

1976 George Brett (#646) – George Brett went on to have a Hall of Fame career and is still considered one of the great third basemen in baseball history. Highly regarded as one of the finest rookie cards produced in the 1970s, a PSA 9 of Brett’s 1976 rookie could garner more than $10,000.

1970 Bobby Murcer (#479) – A true oddball in the set, Bobby Murcer’s photo is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise on his 1970 Topps card. This error makes it an ultra-rare find, with the single known copy selling at auction for over $31,000 back in 2016.


1971 Johnny Bench (#176) – As arguably the best catcher in baseball during the 1970s, Johnny Bench rookie cards hold immense value. High graded examples have sold for $4,000-$6,000, with the all-time record price paid being $49,500 for a PSA 10 copy in 2015.

1977 Alex Rodriguez (#97) – While not his true rookie card (that came in 1994 Topps), Alex Rodriguez’s early 1977 TCMA card is extremely scarce and captures him as a teenager. Always in high demand for major star rookies or pre-rookie cards, a PSA 9 of this card reached $20,000 at auction in 2020.

1971 Reggie Jackson (#438) – One of the most prolific sluggers of the 1970s, Reggie Jackson became a bona fide star and eventual Hall of Famer. High graded copies of his 1971 Topps rookie in the PSA 8-9 range can sell for $3,000-$5,000.

1972 Rod Carew (#244) – A true hitting machine who won 7 batting titles, Rod Carew cards are consistently sought after by collectors. His 1972 Topps rookie has topped $3,000 for top PSA grades.


1970 Ellis Valentine (#397) – As one of the premier error cards from the 1970s, Ellis Valentine is shown wearing a Cardinals uniform despite never playing for that franchise. Only a handful are known to exist, with the last PSA 8.5 example selling for a robust $36,300 back in 2016.

1979 Ozzie Smith (#581) – Not only is Ozzie Smith considered one of the greatest defensive shortstops ever, but his rookie card is one of the biggest rarities from the late 1970s set. Higher graded PSA 8s and 9s can reach four figures, with true gem mint PSA 10s selling for over $6,000.

While most other 1970s Topps cards can be collected on a budget, these elite rookies, errors, and stars from the decade have proven to considerably increase in value. For savvy vintage collectors, high quality examples from this premier brand and era will always retain significance as foundational pieces to any baseball card collection.

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