5 Most Valuable Nolan Ryan Cards Worth Thousands of Dollars

Do you have Nolan Ryan baseball cards in your collection? Some are worth thousands. Are yours?

Published August 11, 2023
Nolan Ryan of the New York Mets poses for a portrait circa 1968

Think about the greatest names in baseball: Ruth, Mays, Aaron, Cobb. It's normally the home run batters that catch the public's eye, but Nolan Ryan was an MLB pitcher that rocked an impressive 27-year long career. Although the most valuable Nolan Ryan baseball cards don't measure up to Mickey Mantle prices, they're impressive enough that you'll want to keep an eye out for these.

Top 5 Most Valuable Nolan Ryan Cards to Look For

Not many players' professional careers in the MLB last for over two decades, but pitcher Nolan Ryan did it while playing for some of the most prestigious teams in the league. Off the field, he spent time as the Texas Rangers President and CEO and the Houston Astros Executive Advisor before retiring.

Naturally, a player with such a long-lasting career in the sport would have accumulated some pretty special trading cards. Thinking about adding a few to your collection? Keep your eyes peeled for these particularly valuable Nolan Ryan cards.

Most Valuable Nolan Ryan Baseball Cards Record Sales Prices
1968 Topps Rookie Series #177 $612,359.83
1970 Topps #712 $132,000
1972 Topps #595 $45,600
1975 Topps #500 $38,240
1973 Topps #220 $19,120

1968 Topps Rookie Series #177

1968 Topps Nolan Ryan - Mets Rookie Stars 177 PSA Gem Mint

Occasionally, Topps and other trading card manufacturers create paired trading cards with two or more players on the same card. Interestingly, Nolan Ryan's rookie card for the New York Mets was one of these, paired with Jerry Koosman. This rookie card is the most valuable of Nolan Ryan's career, regularly selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2016, a gem mint condition card sold for $612,359.83, making it the highest sold Nolan Ryan card.

1970 Topps #712

1970 Topps Nolan Ryan 712 PSA Gem

The second most valuable Nolan Ryan card comes not too far off of his rookie season. In 1970, when Ryan was still with the New York Mets, Topps released a new card featuring Ryan in the early motions of his legendary fast pitch. These cards regularly crack the hundred thousand dollar mark at auction, like this gem mint card that sold for $132,000 in 2021.

1972 Topps #595

1972 Topps Nolan Ryan 595

By 1972, Nolan Ryan had moved from the Mets to the Angels, which Topps commemorated with a portrait card for their 72 series. Not quite as collectible as his rookie and other Mets tenure cards, this Topps #595 still performs well at auction. Most recently, one of these perfect condition cards sold for $45,600.

1975 Topps #500

1975 Topps Nolan Ryan 500

A brighter, more whimsical card from the Topps catalog is the 1975 Nolan Ryan #500 card. Still with the Angels, this card features a picture of the famed pitcher on the mound surrounded with a vibrant purple and pink border. If you can find this card and others from the era in the best condition, you're looking at possibly tens of thousands of dollars. For instance, one of these gem mint cards sold in 2015 for $38,240 through Heritage Auctions.

1973 Topps #220

1973 Topps Nolan Ryan 220

Another notable—albeit much less valuable—Nolan Ryan baseball trading card is the 1973 Topps #220. Once again pitching for the California Angels, Ryan's 73 card is the first on this list to feature an in-motion portrait. These cards do fairly well at auction, but they don't bring in the same price tags that others on this list do. A more recent sale of one of these cards in perfect condition sold for $19,120 at auction.

Valuable Characteristics to Look for in Baseball Cards

Flipping through your collection for these Nolan Ryan cards and want to see if any others make the collectors' cut? Check out these basic criteria that'll set a valuable card apart from a non-valuable card in just a few minutes:

  • Look for rookie cards: Undoubtedly, rookie cards are the most valuable baseball cards sold. Since they mark a player's first season, much fewer cards are made, making them hard to find.
  • Check the condition: The better shape your card is in, the more money it could be worth.
  • See if you've got any autographs: Personal autographs can multiply a card's value, thanks to the signature itself being worth money on top of the card being worth something as well.
  • Look for 1:1 cards: One of one cards, as they're known, are ultra-rare cards where only one of them has been printed, making them super collectible.

Hit a Home Run With These Expensive Nolan Ryan Cards

Nolan Ryan is one of the best pitchers in the league's history, so it makes sense that the baseball cards that represent defining moments in his career would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. And with how much of a fad baseball card collecting was in the 1950s-1980s, there's a big chance you could have one of these valuable cards lying around somewhere just waiting to be rediscovered.

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5 Most Valuable Nolan Ryan Cards Worth Thousands of Dollars