By Larry Canale
Anytime you see a 1960s-era card with a perfect Gem-Mint 10 grade, it merits a look, no matter who the player is. If it turns out to be a Hall of Famer, all the better. Recent examples among only a few 1960s PSA 10 baseball cards we’ve seen exchanged on eBay since January include the following.
• 1966 Topps Hank Aaron (PSA 10): $13,988 on 77 bids.
A bidding war erupted over this perfect-condition card from Topps’ bright and colorful 1966 set. The Aaron card gives us a sharp and close-up view of the slugger’s smiling face. It’s a piece that can be had for less than $1,000 if in 7 or 8 condition or slightly more than $1,000 in 9 condition.
• 1965 Topps Jim Hunter “Rookie Stars” (PSA 10): $8,109 on 48 bids.
We knew him better as Catfish Hunter, the Hall of Fame pitcher who, between 1965 and 1979, won 224 games. He started out with the Kansas City (later Oakland) Athletics before signing with the Yankees as a pioneer free agent. Hunter’s 1965 Rookie Stars card also included Johnny “Blue Moon” Odom, Skip Lockwood and Rene Lachemann. In PSA 9 condition, the card’s price typically dips well under $1,000.
• 1961 Topps Juan Marichal (PSA 10): $4,442 on 26 bids.
This was the pitcher’s rookie card, an item that in slightly lower condition sells for around $925, as we saw with a PSA 9 example last month. Marichal had found instant success in the majors the season before, winning six of eight decisions with a 2.66 ERA in 1960. He went on to a Hall of Fame career, posting a 243-142 record with a sparkling lifetime ERA of 2.89.
• 1968 Topps Bobby Bonds (PSA 10): $3,259, Buy It Now sale.
Barry’s dad Bobby Bonds was a five-tool star who earned a Topps All-Star Rookie citation in its 1969 set. Three examples of this card graded PSA 9 sold for prices between $100 and $140 earlier this year.
• 1969 Topps Johnny Bench All-Star (PSA 10): $3,200 on 45 bids.
If graded 8 or 9, this “Sporting News All-Star” subset card can be had for $75 to $150. Bench was in the midst of his second full season in 1969, when he hit 26 homers with 90 RBI. The following season, the future Hall of Famer notched career highs of 45 homers and 148 RBI.
• 1965 Kahn’s Wieners Hank Aaron (PSA 10): $3,000, Buy It Now sale.
PSA’s Population Report for this card in Gem-Mint-10 condition numbers just three, making it a jewel for collectors of 1960s oddities. It features a colorful shot of Aaron with his bat on his shoulder and a facsimile autograph above his head.
• 1969 Topps Brooks Robinson (PSA 10): $2,700, Buy It Now sale.
PSA’s population report shows only six other Gem-Mint-10 Brooks cards from 1969. Last month, two PSA 9 specimens of the same card sold for prices of $180 and $235. Robinson was known first for his stellar defense at third base: He won 16 Gold Glove awards in his career. But the man could hit, too, batting .267 with 268 homers.
• 1964 Topps Tony Oliva (PSA 10): $1,945 on 32 bids.While Oliva wasn’t a Hall of Famer, some insist he belongs. During his 15-year career, he batted a robust .302 with 220 homers, leading the American League in hits five times (including a high-water mark of 217 in 1964) and in doubles four times, despite chronically achy knees. This 1964 “Rookie Stars” issue (on which he’s paired with Jay Ward, an infielder who played parts of three seasons and hit .163) was Oliva’s second appearance on such a card. He was part of a quartet of rookies on a Topps 1963 Rookies Stars card, which he shared with Ed Kranepool, Max Alvis and Bob Bailey.
Of course, sometimes a perfect PSA 10 bearing a Hall of Famer can get a little unwieldy in price. Such was the case late last year with a Topps 1968 card of Tom Seaver that drew a PSA 10 grade. As we reported in this space last December, it fetched $15,702 on 28 bids.
PERFECT 10s, HOCKEY
We also took a look at recent sales of perfect-10 hockey cards from the 1960s. Among the relatively few offerings:
• 1963 Topps Johnny Bucyk (PSA 10): $2,445, Buy It Now sale.
Bucyk was a Boston Bruins star, and this card is a worthy collectible from his career, with its horizontal design and a hockey-stick graphic serving as a partition between a large color portrait pose and a smaller black-and-white action shot.
• 1961 Topps Guy Gendron (PSA 10): $1,459, Buy It Now sale.
PSA’s Population Report for perfect-10 cards of Gendron from Topps’ 1961-62 set shows just two examples. Typically, you can buy this classic-looking card of the Rangers star for $100 to $125.
Stop back in our next issue and we’ll bring you some perfect-10 1960s cards from football, basketball and boxing.
Reggie Jackson burst onto the baseball scene with 29 home runs in 1968, his first full season in the majors. He was even better in 1969, blasting 47 homers, driving in 118 runs and scoring 123. Thirty-seven of those homers came before the All-Star break, so he was an easy choice to start in that July exhibition of the game’s best players.
His 1969 performance also earned him a spot in the “Sporting News All-Star” subset Topps created for its 1970 issue. That memorable subset featured a splashy design, with the player — in this case, Jackson decked out in his colorful Oakland A’s uniform — “bursting out” from behind a newspaper graphic.
In February, an eBay seller listed a PSA 10 specimen of the 1970 Jackson All-Star card and sold it for $12,000. PSA’s population Gem-Mint-10 Jackson All-Star cards is exactly one. A week later, a PSA 9 example of the same card fetched $1,977, while a PSA 8 version brought $131.