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.
Thurman Munson was a very talented player, and exceptional behind the plate, but he is remembered more for his fiery tenacity, leadership, and postseason play. He was a staple of the Yankees lineup throughout the ’70s.
These traits led Munson to solidify himself as one of the premier catchers of the decade and an undeniable fan favorite. With a game marked by exceptional defense and a consistent bat, Munson entered the league emphatically, garnering the American League Rookie of the Year nod in 1970.
The promising catcher was eventually named Yankees team captain, and he helped lead the team to three consecutive World Series trips from 1976 to 1978, capturing two World Series championships along the way (1977 and ’78).
Throughout his 11 seasons with the Yankees, Munson would showcase his trademark defense and lightning quick throws to catch would-be base stealers. His play in that area was enough to earn three Gold Glove awards.
But let’s not overlook his prowess with the bat. The charismatic catcher hit above the .300-mark five times during his career, and clubbed 186 hits, 28 doubles, 18 home runs, 105 RBI and a .302 batting average during his AL MVP campaign in 1976.
Sadly, his career was cut tragically short in a fatal plane crash in 1979. He was just 32 years old. But the catcher’s legacy will forever live on in pinstripes lore. Sporting as much tenacity and passion for the game as whiskers on his trademark mustache, Munson’s appeal lives on in the hobby, too, as he remains a popular athlete to collect. When it comes to trading card value, some Munson cards can fetch a premium.
With that in mind, below are four of Munson’s key cards, along with values and the required cards to complete his 10-card basic set.
Let”s start with the talented backstop’s rookie card, which Munson shares with fellow rookie Dave McDonald. Flanked by gray borders and dueling images of the young prospects, this issue remains one of the more popular cards of the Yankee catcher. However, Munson’s rookie, much like Mickey Mantle’s 1951 Bowman rookie, is a special case in that it is not his most popular and valuable card. That title is reserved for the next card on our list. Still, PSA 10 examples of this can reach values in the $30k mark. There are only four PSA 10s, after all.
PSA Good 2: $17
PSA Excellent 5: $44
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $229
On to Munson’s second-year issue. As you can see by the PSA 8 values, this card continues to command more value in high grade than his aforementioned rookie card. Perhaps it’s due to the thinner PSA Population. Compared to his rookie issue with four PSA 10 examples, there are no PSA 10 examples of this card. And of the few PSA 9 examples out there – four, to be exact – figures in the $20k range aren’t uncommon. Or, maybe it’s the slick action shot of the young catcher making a play at home plate that appeals to collectors. One thing is certain, this is a hot Munson card. Careful with those black borders; they are the main culprits for such a thin population in high grade.
PSA Good 2: $16
PSA Excellent 5: $44
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $1,575
Moving on to a much more affordable Munson issue. High grade examples of this, his 1972 Topps card, start at just around $50 or so. That’s not bad at all, considering it features such a celebrated player. As one of two posed shots featured in this entry, this card depicts a kneeling, clean-shaven Munson (sans his trademark mustache), with his arm cocked back in the throwing position. This set also featured an action shot of Munson – though the image of the catcher talking with his pitcher is hardly “in action.” Despite this card being one of his more affordable issues, the price jumps up to around $3,000 in PSA 10.
PSA Good 2: N/A
PSA Excellent 5: $9
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $57
Arguably the best photo of the cards we’ve featured (next to, perhaps, his 1971 All-Star Rookie), his 1973 Topps card sees the Yankees backstop, all clad in catcher’s gear and ready for the incoming pitch, set to a striking lens blur of the crowd in the background. Aside from the aforementioned 1972 Topps issue, this is the most affordable of the Munson cards featured in this entry. High-grade examples start at around $70, and much like his ’72 issue, can jump in value to around $2,000 or so in PSA 10. If you’re looking to begin your Munson collection in high-grade, these last two cards aren’t a bad place to start.
PSA Good 2: N/A
PSA Excellent 5: $12
PSA Near Mint-Mint 8: $70
Thurman Munson Cards Required to Complete the Set
(Including PSA Weights)
- 1970 TOPPS YANKEES ROOKIES MUNSON/McDONALD #189 (6.00)
- 1971 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON AS #5 (5.00)
- 1972 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #441 (3.00)
- 1973 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #142 (2.00)
- 1974 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #340 (2.00)
- 1975 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #20 (2.00)
- 1976 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #650 (2.00)
- 1977 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #170 (1.50)
- 1978 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #60 (1.50)
- 1979 TOPPS THURMAN MUNSON #310 (1.00)
Browse through images of the set within the image gallery section of the Set Registry.
Catching the Thurman Munson Card Set
Though Munson’s name doesn’t reside in the Hall of Fame, the celebrated catcher was the epitome of consistency and a fan favorite, to boot. The backstop was so revered, after his untimely death the Yankees immediately retired number “15″ and a plaque commemorating Munson was placed in Memorial Park. The team continues to honor the late catcher to this day and in various ways.
During Munson’s 11 seasons, he earned team caption honors, helped the Yankees to three World Series appearances (winning two of them), all while exemplifying the competitive spirit the pinstripes are known for. It’s no wonder the backstop is so revered.
Fortunately for collectors, there are cards of the celebrated catcher available for those seeking high-grade sets or just merely dabbling in the hobby. No matter your level of participation in the hobby, there’s a Munson card out there for you.
Munson was charismatic leader and a fiery competitor, immortalized by the city and team that loved him. Yankees fan or not, the Thurman Munson Basic set is a great pursuit for any collector.Start Your Set Today