Vintage Spotlight: The Very Best Rookie And Star 1972 Topps Baseball Cards

August 22, 2022

The 1970s were a transformative decade in US history, and that extended to the baseball diamond. 1972 was no different. Nixon went to China.

The A’s won their first of three straight World Series. Baseball was still the undisputed national pastime, as American as pie, which is appropriate as Don McLean made “American Pie” the top song of 1972.  

Topps produced some classic sets in the 1970s with some amazing rookie cards. A less modern production and quality assurance processes, plus the ravages of time, have made some of these cards challenging and valuable in top condition.

In this series, we’ll look at the top cards for each set, including key rookie cards and other valuable cards, with info on their PSA populations and recent values. Come hop in the way back machine and relive the glory that was 1970s Topps baseball.

Today we will take a look at the 1972 Topps set.

Find the latest prices on 1972 Topps singles on eBay

Topps 1972 baseball cards – The basics

With 787 cards released across six series, 1972 Topps features a design that is one of the most divisive ever. Collectors usually either love them or hate them. With the team names at the top of the card in big, bold, ’70s font, the cards are very distinctive and clearly of their era.

PSA has graded a total of 293,804 1972 Topps cards, with just 6,896 PSA 10’s (2%).

The selection of PSA 10s of 1972 Topps cards on eBay are few and far between

Topps baseball cards 1972 –  Key rookie cards

There is one Hall of Fame rookie card in the 1972 Topps, card #79 Red Sox Rookie Stars, featuring catcher Carlton Fisk. Fisk won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1972 on the way to a 24-year career.

Another interesting rookie card comes in the last series, card #761 which is somewhat awkwardly titled “AL-NL Rookie Stars”. The card features two players with long and successful major league careers in Ron Cey and Ben Oglivie.  Being in the short-printed final series and fairly low PSA pop makes this one a bit tougher than you might expect.

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1972 Topps Red Sox Rookie Stars #79 (Carlton Fisk)7,085PSA 8 = 1,367$225-350
1972 Topps AL-NL Rookie Stars #761 (Ron Cey, Ben Oglive) 889PSA 8 = 296$100-150

1972 Topps baseball cards – Other key parts from the checklist

The 1972 Topps set turns 50 in 2022. The 1972 Topps Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, and Johnny Bench represented early releases as they established their Hall of Fame credentials. An aging Willie Mays approaching the end of his career. The 1972 Topps Hank Aaron captures “Hammerin’ Hank” as he is approaching Babe Ruth’s career home run record. The final card of Roberto Clemente that was produced during his lifetime (he appears posthumously in the 1973 Topps set).

CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1972 Topps Willie Mays #495,290PSA 8 = 1,290$300-350
1972 Topps Hank Aaron #2993,414PSA 8 = 636$300-450
1972 Topps Roberto Clemente #3095,534PSA 8 = 1,482$350-400
1972 Topps Johnny Bench #4331,892PSA 8 = 549$300
1972 Topps Pete Rose #5592,873PSA 8 = 748$300
1972 Topps Nolan Ryan #595 5,615PSA 8 = 1,220$600-800

The final word on 1972 Topps baseball

The 1972 Topps set is now 50 years old. It represents a time in the history of Topps cards that was very much of their 70’s monopoly. Centering issues and thin stock, plus 50 years of wear and tear, can make finding high-grade copies a challenge. And that design is arguably the most “of its era” of all time.

Whether you’re a mid-grade set builder, a collector of rookie cards, or just someone who appreciates cards of some of the all-time legends of the game from their playing days, there’s a way for you to add 1972 Topps to your collection.

Other 1970s Topps Baseball sets