Nolan Ryan Card Values | PSA Collector Guide4 min read

In this new, ongoing series, we explore various sets on the PSA Set Registry, featuring the trading cards of iconic athletes. Select cards will be highlighted and the requirements of each set will be included.

There are few pitchers who have made the sort of impact on Major League Baseball that Nolan Ryan did over the course of his 27 seasons in the big leagues. Ryan began his career with the New York Mets in 1966, a big, strong Texan with a live arm, a fastball that hit 100 mph+ on the radar guns, a devastating curve and an unrivaled work ethic. After winning a World Series in New York, he went to the California Angels, before spending additional years with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. When he retired in 1993, he did so with 324 career wins, a major league record 5,714 strikeouts, eight All-Star appearances and his seven career no-hitters were more than anyone else in history.

If you are trying to complete Ryan’s basic Topps set checklist on the PSA Set Registry, his 1968 rookie offering pairing him with Mets teammate Jerry Koosman is the most heavily weighted card (10.00) of the bunch. Weights are determined by the card’s secondary market value using a scale from 1.00 to 10.00 with 10.00 being the most expensive.

 

1968 topps nolan ryan

1968 Topps #177

Ryan is flanked by fellow Mets’ hurler, Jerry Koosman, on his 1968 Topps Rookie Stars card #177. The burlap border of the ’68 Topps design shows flaws easily and thus high-grade examples are not common. Less than 1% of its 11,412-card population has graded PSA 9 or 10. This is an excellent example of supply not meeting demand as PSA 9 examples have traded in the $25,000-to-$30,000 range over the last year. Using three varying PSA grades for the card, here are its industry average auction prices:

PSA Good 2: $215.96

PSA Excellent 5: $412.73

PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $3,067.65

1971 topps nolan ryan

1971 Topps #513

The 1971 Topps card features an attractive action shot of the strong-armed hurler, making it a desirable issue. However, the 1971 Topps set features easily chipped black borders and centering issues which makes high-grade examples difficult to find. Less than 1% of the population for this card has earned a grade of PSA Mint 9, and those have sold for more than $6,300 at auction. There has yet to be a PSA Gem Mint 10. Using three varying PSA grades for the card, here are its industry average auction prices:

PSA Good 2: $23.98

PSA Excellent 5: $44.58

PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $488.44

1975 topps nolan ryan

1975 Topps #500

The colorful 1975 Topps Baseball release is one of the most popular sets of the decade. Packed with top rookies and eventual Hall of Famers, competition for high-grade cards is fierce. The #500 card shows the pitcher looking off into the distance, as though contemplating his next pitch. Of the roughly 4,300 examples submitted for grading, only three have earned the PSA Gem Mint 10 designation. The last one to sell publicly changed hands for $31,200 at auction. Using three varying PSA grades for the card, here are its industry average auction prices:

PSA Good 2: $6.50

PSA Excellent 5: $15.87

PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $199.94

1981 topps nolan ryan

1981 Topps #240

The 1981 Topps issue is the hurler’s first major issue showing him as a member of the Houston Astros. It is attractive in its simplicity, and though not rare, it’s difficult to locate in top condition. About 1% of the cards submitted have earned a grade of PSA Gem Mint 10, though PSA Mint 9 examples are much more common. The PSA 9 graded cards sell for around $40, while the PSA 10s trade at more than $1,000. Using three varying PSA grades for the card, here are its industry average auction prices:

PSA Good 2: N/A

PSA Excellent 5: $2.00

PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $10.71

Nolan Ryan Cards Required to Complete the Set

  • 1968 TOPPS N.RYAN/J.KOOSMAN 177 (10.00)
  • 1969 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 533 (6.00)
  • 1970 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 712 (5.00)
  • 1971 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 513 (4.00)
  • 1972 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 595 (4.00)
  • 1973 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 220 (3.00)
  • 1974 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 20 (2.00)
  • 1975 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 500 (2.00)
  • 1976 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 330 (1.50)
  • 1977 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 650 (1.50)
  • 1978 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 400 (1.50)
  • 1979 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 115 (1.50)
  • 1980 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 580 (1.50)
  • 1981 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 240 (1.00)
  • 1982 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 90 (1.00)
  • 1983 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 360 (1.00)
  • 1984 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 470 (1.00)
  • 1985 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 760 (1.00)
  • 1986 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 100 (1.00)
  • 1987 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 757 (1.00)
  • 1988 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 250 (1.00)
  • 1989 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 530 (1.00)
  • 1990 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 1 (1.00)
  • 1991 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 1 (1.00)
  • 1992 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 1 (1.00)
  • 1993 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 700 (1.00)
  • 1994 TOPPS NOLAN RYAN 34 (1.00)

With such a long career there is no shortage of Ryan cards to appease collectors. However, like the man himself, the Nolan Ryan Basic Topps Set on the PSA Set Registry is a simple, yet classic collection that would be the pride of any hobbyist and fan of the game. The set consists of 27 cards, beginning with Ryan’s 1968 Topps rookie issue and culminating with a 1994 release. In between are many of the most desirable cardboard gems that span one of the greatest careers in major league history.

There are few athletes who are more universally respected than Nolan Ryan. His longevity, dedication to the game and success are recognized by fans and collectors alike. And it just so happens that he has a rich history in baseball cards. Give the Nolan Ryan Basic Topps Set a try. You won’t regret it!

 

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Posted by Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias is a longtime hobbyist and PSA staff member who is constantly on the hunt for vintage lacrosse issues and autographed cards for his American Football League (1960-1969) collection.

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