20 Rare Baseball Cards Worth Serious Money

These rare baseball cards swing for the fences and knock it out of the auction block every time.

Updated May 23, 2024
Baseball Cards

You always hope to find some rare baseball cards worth money when you're rifling through your grandparents' closets. From the famous Honus Wagner card to the amazing cards from the Negro League, the rarest baseball cards have sold for eye-watering amounts of money. And if you're super lucky, you just might hit a grand slam at the auction market if you can stumble across one of these valuable baseball cards in the wild. 

20 Valuable & Rare Baseball Cards That Hit Grand Slams at Auction

Would America's favorite pastime be as popular as it is without kids feverishly collecting baseball trading cards of their favorite players and teams? Baseball cards are a way for people to enjoy the game away from the game, and over the 100+ years they've been around, a small collection has risen to the top. Because collectors will pay the big bucks for these rare baseball cards, make sure you check every nook and cranny in your older relatives' houses for any one of these. 

Rare Baseball Cards Worth Money Recent Sales Price
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle #311 $12.6 million
1909-1911 Honus Wagner T206 $3.12 million
1909-1911 Ty Cobb Back T206 $3 million
1915 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card $1.35 million
1909-1911 Joe Doyle "N.Y. NAT'L" T206 $1.32 million 
1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle $750,000
1963 Topps Pete Rose $717,000
1909-1911 American Caramel Joe Jackson $667,000
1909-1911 Sherry "Magie" Magee T206 $600,000
1910 Old Mill Joe Jackson T210 $600,000
1951 Bowman Willie Mays #305 $600,000
1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth $575,000
1955 Topps Roberto Clemente $478,000
1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb $432,000
1948 Leaf Satchel Paige $432,000
1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie #106 $200,000
1909-1911 Eddie Plank T206 $106,650
1926 Tomas Gutierrez Negro League Baseball Cards $100,000
1953 Topps Jim Gilliam Rookie Card #258 $6,000
1909 Pete Hill Cabanas Unknown

1952 Mickey Mantle Topps #311: $12.6 million 

1952 Mickey Mantle Topps

Mickey Mantle's 1952 Topps Major League card is another sports collectible example worth millions, and it broke records when it sold for $12.6 million in 2022. The 1952 card was the first Topps issued for Mickey Mantle and represented an important season for the famous player. The image with Mantle holding a bat and glancing to the side is one that baseball card collectors know well. Perhaps as many as 1,700 of these cards exist, but fewer than a dozen are in mint condition.

1909-1911 Honus Wagner T206: $3.12 million 

rare baseball card of Honus Wagner

Even novice collectors interested in rare baseball cards will quickly come across Honus Wagner's name. Although Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron are famous baseball players with collectible cards, none come close to this ball player. Honus Wagner was an outstanding shortstop and an early inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Considered the rarest and most valuable baseball card in existence, there are only about 50 copies of his 1909-1911 full-color card, known as the T206 Wagner. In 2016, one sold at auction for $3.12 million.

1909-1911 Ty Cobb Back T206: ~$3 million 

This iconic card features one of the most popular players in baseball history — Ty Cobb. The front shows a picture of Cobb surrounded by a red background, with the back bearing his name. Fewer than 23 of these cards exist, and one family found eight of them on the floor of their great-grandparents' home. They auctioned seven off for a total of about $3 million.

Fast Fact

Baseball cards don't corner the trading card market like they used to. From Michael Jordan's $2.052 million 1997/98 Upper Deck card to Patrick Mahomes's $4.3 million rookie, America's other favorite sports are catching up. 

1915/1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card: $1.35 million 

1915/1916 Sporting News Babe Ruth Rookie Card

Many consider Babe Ruth the greatest baseball player in history, and his rookie card is among the most valuable and rarest baseball cards in existence. The card — which comes with different backs that are blank and/or have advertising — is extremely hard to find. In fact, fewer than 20 examples exist. One record-setting price for this Babe Ruth rookie card is $1.35 million.

1909-1911 Joe Doyle "N.Y. NAT'L" T206: $1.32 million

Considered ten times rarer than the ultra-valuable Honus Wagner example, this baseball card is considered the "king of errors." The league that Doyle played in was listed as National instead of American by mistake. Instead of reading as "N.Y. NAT'L", it should read "N.Y. AMER." Fewer than 10 of these error cards exist, making this one of the rarest baseball cards of all time.

One of the highest-graded of these cards came to auction in 2023 and sold for a whopping $1.32 million

1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle: $750,000

1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle

Although more than 2,300 of these official Mickey Mantle rookie cards exist, it's still a rare and coveted collector item. It's prone to serious condition issues, including wax stains and lines in the printing, which makes finding one in excellent condition very rare. In 2018, one in excellent condition sold for $750,000.

1963 Topps Pete Rose: $717,000

1963 Topps Pete Rose

The 1963 Topps is Pete Rose's rookie card. Once again, this isn't the rarest baseball card in terms of population, but finding one in excellent condition is super unlikely. There are over 3,700 of these cards around, but only one is rated "gem mint." Examples in excellent condition are also rare and hard to find, and one card sold for $717,000 in 2018.

Related: How to Use Baseball Card Appraisals to Maximize Your Investment

1909-1911 American Caramel Joe Jackson: $667,000

With fewer than 90 of these cards existing, it's one of the most coveted rare baseball cards worth money. The 1909-1911 card features one of the most famous players in history — "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. This card originally came with caramel candies and was issued in different sizes. Its auction record ekes out at just over $667,000.

1909-1911 Sherry "Magie" Magee T206: $660,000

Fewer than 175 of Sherry "Magie" Magee's 1909-1911 baseball cards are accounted for. Magee's name was misspelled as "Magie" making it another example in a long list of valuable mistake cards. Because this error was caught early in the printing, very few cards were manufactured with that misspelling. This rare error gives the card extra value with one selling for $660,000 in 2018.

1910 T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson: $600,000

1910 T210 Old Mill Joe Jackson

Only eight of this minor league baseball card for "Shoeless" Joe Jackson exist, making it one of the rarest baseball cards you can collect. Even in rough condition, it's very valuable. However, in excellent condition, it can sell for as much as $600,000.

1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays: $600,000

1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays

Although there are more than 1,000 1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays cards, finding one in good condition is a difficult feat. Fewer than 10 exist in excellent or gem mint condition, and they bring in a premium price at auction. In mint condition, a 1951 #305 can be worth as much as $600,000.

1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth: $575,000

This is a "pre-rookie" card for Babe Ruth — one of the most famous players in history — and only 10 copies are known to exist. It's one of the rarest baseball cards out there, making it very desirable to collectors. One of these cards sold for $575,000 in 2012.

Need to Know

Baltimore News cards are uniquely different than the black-and-white or technicolor mid-century cards we're used to. These cards were printed with either a blue or red tint. 

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente: $478,000

1955 Topps Roberto Clemente

Another card that's hard to find in excellent condition is the 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente. Only a handful exist in excellent shape, and those that do are worth quite a lot. For example, one sold in 2016 for $478,000.

1914/1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb: $432,000

1914/1915 Cracker Jack Ty Cobb

Originally issued over 100 years ago, this Ty Cobb card is worth a fortune today. Fewer than 100 exist, and they are very difficult to find in excellent shape. Naturally, one sold in 2016 for an impressive $432,000.

Related: Post Cereal Baseball Cards: Sets and Their Values

1948 Leaf Satchel Paige: $432,000

1948 Leaf Satchel Paige #8

The 1948 Leaf Satchel Paige rookie card may have been a short print, but it's one of the most desirable cards from all of those printed for the Negro League. Its rarity adds dramatically to its value, making it a card worth hunting down. One in excellent condition sold for as much as $432,000.

1933 Goudey #106 Napoleon Lajoie: $384,000

1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie

The 1933 Goudey #106 is one of the rarest baseball cards ever, and the story behind this card is rather interesting. In order to get it, collectors had to contact Goudey directly. Then the card was mailed to them with a paper clip attaching it to the letter (and damaging the surface of the card). 

Fewer than 100 exist today, making them quite a collectible bunch. One mint card came to Heritage Auctions and sold for $384,000

1909-1911 Eddie Plank T206: $106,650

While some cards are rare because they were pulled from printing to fix an error in the text, no one can pinpoint why the 1909-1911 Eddie Plank T206 card was printed in such small numbers. It may be that Plank did not consent to his image being used, or it might be there was an error in the printing die used to make the card. Either way, only about 100 of these cards exist.

It's not as valuable as other rare baseball cards but does pretty well at auction. In 2013, a highly-graded example sold for $106,650

Related: 10 Most Valuable Topps Baseball Cards That Sell for Top Dollar

1923 Tomas Gutierrez Negro League Baseball Cards: $100,000

Rather than being a single card like the others on this list, these 1923 baseball cards represent a series produced by Diaz Cigarettes. Within the series are many members of the Negro League Hall of Fame as well as many players of the Cuban League. Several of the cards are incredibly rare, some with fewer than a dozen known copies. The entire set includes at least 84 cards and is worth at least $100,000.

1953 Topps Jim Gilliam #258: $6,000

1953 Topps Jim Gilliam

As one of the lowest print runs in a very popular series, the 1953 Topps Jim Gilliam #258 is coveted by collectors. It's estimated that fewer than 500 exist, and those in good condition are worth the most. They sell for up to $6,000.

1909 Pete Hill Cabanas: Unknown 

Original Negro League baseball cards are among the rarest out there. In fact, most early African American players were not included in regular baseball card sets. Interestingly, most of the Leagues cards were issued in Cuba, since players played there during the off-season. One of the best and rarest Negro League baseball cards is the 1909 Pete Hill Cabanas, of which only one copy is known to exist.

Have Your Old Baseball Cards Appraised

Baseball cards were given away as promotions by companies like Post Cereals, Cracker Jack, and more, but today, they can be worth a fortune. If you think you have one of these rare baseball cards or another card worth serious money, it's a good idea to have it professionally appraised. Only an expert can tell you about the condition issues, rarity, and many other factors that will affect the card's value.

Need to Know

PSA, BGS, and SGC are three leading trading card appraisal companies. But keep in mind that official appraisals are never free, and costs vary based on the card's value, how quickly you want it appraised, and more. 

Everything's Possible at the Old Ball Game 

Football players have fantasy football but baseball fans can relive the wins and losses of yesteryear with these rare baseball cards. From players whose names you've probably never heard of to MLB titans, these valuable baseball cards are ones you don't want to pass up. 

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20 Rare Baseball Cards Worth Serious Money