Nolan Ryan Rookie Card Value (With 10 Rare Baseball Cards)

Popular pitcher Nolan Ryan’s meteoric rise to stardom is an unforgettable part of baseball history. He holds 51 MLB (Major League Baseball) records and 324 career wins. His blazing pitching skills made Ryan one of the most feared pitchers of his era, and his success made his rookie card a must-have for serious sports card collectors!

Worth thousands of dollars, Topps Nolan Ryan baseball cards are serious gems. But to find their true value, you must know how to assess these cards’ condition, grades, and rarity. In this guide, I’ll tell you all about valuing Nolan Ryan Rookie and other baseball cards along with the 10 most valuable cards to look for!

Why is Nolan Ryan’s Rookie Baseball Card Collectible?

As one of the greatest pitchers ever, with a 27-year career spanning four decades, Nolan Ryan’s Rookie card is extremely popular today among collectors, especially baseball fans. 

The first rookie card was released in 1968 by the most popular trading card manufacturer, Topps Company. This card was a part of a Topps Milton Bradley board game, which led to limited availability and increased popularity today.

The “1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan rookie card” is highly sought-after today, with its highest-graded copies fetching over $500,000 or more. But card collectors also keenly seek other Nolan baseball cards, apart from the rookie.

How to Assess Nolan Ryan Cards’ Value

The average value of a Nolan Ryan Rookie card in mint condition can range anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000 or more, as these are extremely rare to find. The rookie card in average or very good condition can also sell for $1,000 to $2,000.

Obviously, Nolan Ryan’s baseball card’s value depends on its condition, but there are a few other features to consider, too, such as rarity and autographs. Here are some easy steps to find out how much is a Nolan Ryan Rookie card worth considering these factors!

Analyze the Condition

The condition of a Nolan Ryan rookie is the most crucial factor that determines its worth. Rookie cards in excellent (mint or near-mint) condition, just like a new card without any visible damage, are valued more than the damaged cards.

  • Creases & folds
  • Manual writing, markings
  • Tears, cuts, & holes
  • Ripped layers
  • Scratches, print defects due to careless handling
  • Worn out edges

Apart from visual analysis, Nolan Ryan cards are graded by services like PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), SGC (Sportscard Guaranty Corporation), and CGC (Certified Guaranty Company). 

These services grade these cards on a scale of ‘Poor (1) ’ to ‘Gem Mint (10). 

Naturally, high-grade Nolan Ryan rookies are worth much more than low-grade or non-graded cards. For example, this PSA-5 1968 #177 Nolan Ryan/Jerry Koosman Rookie card sold for only $1,800; the same card with high grades, like Mint 9, sells for $50,000 to $100,000 or more!

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Source: eBay – trair-4101

Check the Rarity

Although 1968 Nolan Ryan rookies were released in millions, after over 50 years, finding a higher-grade rookie is extremely rare. That’s why such rare rookies are highly prized by collectors.

The best example of this is the mind-boggling sale of the 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Card – PSA GEM MT 10 “1 of 1 on Goldin Auctions at the exceptionally high price of $600,000, as per PSA! 

Besides, you may rarely find a Nolan Ryan rookie with printing errors, like misspelled names or missing text. Such errors can also make a rookie card rarer and more valuable than others.

Look for Original Autographs

Rookie cards autographed by the legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan himself can fetch hefty amounts from collectors. In fact, even low-grade rookies can be worth thousands of dollars if they have Ryan’s original signature. 

I found a PSA-6 1968 Nolan Ryan Autographed rookie card in Excellent-Mint condition on eBay that sold for almost $3,500, which is around a thousand dollars more than the average price of grade-6 Nolan rookies worth $2,500 or less.

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Source: eBay – millcreeksports

10 Most Valuable Nolan Ryan Cards Ever Sold!

Apart from the 1968 rookie card, several other Nolan Ryan trading cards fetch surprisingly high prices at different auctions. Here are the top ten most expensive Nolan Ryan baseball cards ever auctioned!

1. 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie Card #177 (Sold for $612,360)

The most expensive Nolan Ryan Rookie Card ever sold is a 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan – Mets Rookie Stars #177. One of the only few to exist, this card is graded Gem Mint 10 by PSA, making it an extremely rare card, selling at a mindblowing price of $612,360 at Heritage Auctions

1968 Topps #177 cards in low grade, like NM-MT 8 or 8.5, are also extremely valuable, selling for $10,000 to $20,000, like this one that sold for $21,766 on eBay.

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Source: eBay – PC Sportscards

2. 1970 Nolan Ryan #712 Baseball Card (Sold for $132,000)

The second most valuable and rarest Nolan Ryan rookie to be found in a Gem Mint state is the 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan #712. It features a picture of young Nolan with his pitcher gloves. One of the only three PSA Gem Mint 10 cards auctioned for $132,000. Low-grade 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan are still worth at least $1,500.

3. 1969 Topps Nolan Ryan #533 (Sold for $180,000)

Topps’ Nolan Ryan rookie number #533 from the 1969 series is another hard-to-find gem. According to Heritage Auctions, only three of these cards have been graded Gem Mint 10, with one being recently auctioned for a whopping $180,000 in March. On the other hand, a grade-9 Nolan Ryan card was sold for $11,500 on eBay.

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Source: eBay – checkoutmyvault

4. 1972 Topps Nolan Ryan #595 (Sold for $45,600)

In 1972, Ryan joined hands with the California Angels, leading to the team’s success. The 72 card #595 features a close-up image of Ryan wearing the Angels’ hat. Finding this card in the Gem Mint grade is extremely rare, so a collector grabbed one of the very few PSA-10 72 #595 cards after paying $45,600 via Heritage Auctions.

5. 1975 Topps #500 Nolan Ryan Angel (Sold for $28,680)

Nylon Ryan rookie number #500 from the 1975 Topps Baseball card series is another special find. This card features a bold purple and pink background with pitcher Nolan’s photograph registered in the center. One of the very few Gem Mint-graded autographed 1975 Topps #500 cards sold at Heritage Auctions for $28,680!

6. 1973 Topps #220 Baseball Card (Sold for $19,120)

Another valuable Nolan Ryan card is the 1973 Topps card number #220, featuring Nolan in an Angels 30 t-shirt pitching for the California Angels. Although not as valuable as the ‘60s Nolan cards, this one is special as it’s the first card with an in-motion portrait.

I found a PSA-graded Gem Mint 10 1973 card, one of the only five, on Heritage Auctions that sold for $19,120!

7. 1975 Topps #5 Nolan Ryan ’74 Highlights (Sold for $17,860)

Reflecting the highlights of Ryan’s remarkable performance in the 1974 season leading the American League, the 1975 Topps #5 Nolan Ryan ‘74 Highlights card is a valuable collectible. Only a few high-grade cards have been discovered to this date, of which the highest PSA-10 Gem Mint card sold for $17,860 on Memory Lane Inc. auction, as per PSA.

8. 1971 Topps #513 Nolan Ryan (Sold for $33,600)

The 1971 #513 card displaying Ryan in pitching (in-motion) pose as a pitcher for the New York Mets is a rare find. Reportedly, no #513 card graded Gem Mint 10 has been found.

The existing highest-grade Mint 9 card was sold at Heritage Auctions for $33,600. Low-grade cards are also worth a few thousand, like this NM-MT (Near-Mint+) 8.5-grade card that sold for $5,700 on eBay.

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Source: eBay – 4 Sharp Corners

9. 1980 Topps #580 Nolan Ryan Angels (Sold for $13,800)

This card features Ryan in his post-Angels journey after he joined the California Angels. Another rare card to find the 80 Topps $580 can sell for several hundred dollars in low grades, but it’s worth thousands in high-grade Gem-Mint, Mint, or Near-Mint states.

According to PSA, one Gem Mint 10 1980 #580 Nolan Ryan card sold for $13,800 at Heritage Auctions, and the same card sold for $10,700 via an eBay auction.

10. 1981 Topps Nolan Ryan #240 (Sold for $6,950)

In 1979, Nolan Ryan joined the Houston Astros team. This 1981 Topps baseball card displays Ryan wearing the Astros t-shirt with an orange hat with “H” printed on the front. Rarely found in a Gem Mint state, a PSA-10 grade 1981 Topps #240 Nolan Ryan card sold for almost $6,950 on eBay in March.

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Source: eBay – Steve Novella’s PSA Graded Cards

So, if you’re into vintage sports card collections, look out for Nolan Ryan rookie and other baseball cards. They could be worth way more than you think as you can clearly see! But if sports cards are not your cup of tea, you can check out the 12 most valuable vintage Star Wars trading cards and the amusing Garbage Pail Kids Cards, too!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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