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The Top Jackie Robinson Baseball Cards: Chasing Cards Of One of The Most Iconic Players Ever

Jackie Robinson

In honor of Black History Month, we take a look at the best baseball cards of the player that broke the color barrier, Jackie Robinson.

Jackie Robinson remains one of the most famous athletes in history. His breaking of the color barrier remains one of the most important moments in the history of sports and of the entire 20th century.

Sometimes, in all the (very well-deserved) attention of the historical significance of Jackie Robinson, the fact that he was an amazing baseball player is almost glossed over. But he was a great player, helping to bring the fast and dynamic play of the Negro Leagues to the white major leagues.

But who was Jackie Robinson? And what Jackie Robinson baseball cards are worth chasing?

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Who was Jackie Robinson?

The story of Jackie Robinson is well known at this point. As the first Black player to appear in the white major leagues in 1947, he helped change not just the sport but American society. Robinson was the right man at the right time.

He was young enough to be in his prime as a player, but strong enough not to fight back against the racism he would face day in and day out.

After serving in the Army during World War II, Robinson played briefly in the Negro Leagues before signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He played a year for the Dodger’s farm club in Montreal before debuting with the Dodgers.

And what a debut it was. At the age of 28, Robinson hit .297/.383/.427, good for an OPS of .810 and an OPS+ of 112. He won the Rookie of the Year award, and finished 5th in the MVP voting.

Two years later, he won a batting title and the NL MVP award. He was a dynamic player, hitting for average and power and running the base in an aggressive style not seen in years.

Robinson would be an All-Star seven times during his 10 years in the National League. For his career, he hit 313/.410/.477, an OPS of .887 and OPS+ of 133.  In his career, Robinson was worth 63.8 WAR.

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Left: Jackie Robinson w/ Branch Rickey Right: Jackie Robinson in his Dodgers Uniform

Jackie Robinson in books & movies

Jackie Robinson’s story has been told many times over the years in a large number of books, from children’s books to scholarly pieces. Perhaps one of the best was his autobiography, Never Had it Made.

A number of films have also been produced about Robinson, including 42 and Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson, both of which are highly recommended.

The Movie “42: The Jackie Robinson Story” is well worth a viewing

Jackie Robinson baseball cards

Jackie Robinson represents a story both with clear relevance today, but also of an age that feels long ago. Of black-and-white newsreel footage and old-timey baseball. Of transistor radios on the sill of an open window.

Cards from Robinson’s playing career are now 65-75 years old. As one would expect, they are much different than cards of today, including being rather hard to come by, especially in top condition.

By the time 2023 comes to a close, it’s likely that Jackie Robinson will have appeared on over 5,000 baseball cards in those 75 years. Of those, a scant 56 were produced during his playing days.

So, what are some of the Jackie Robinson cards worth chasing? Let’s take a deeper look at some of the cards of the icon.

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The Jackie Robinson rookie cards

Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in April of 1946. In terms of baseball cards (and much else), these were a different time. It would be two years before Robinson appeared on a major baseball card release.

1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson rookie card #79

The 1948 Leaf (sometimes referenced as 1948-49) Jackie Robinson is Robinson’s first appearance in a major card set. Smaller than a modern card at 2 3/8″ x 2 7/8″, this iconic card makes up for its small stature with huge collectability.

Even in a PSA 2, this card has sold recently in the $7,500-8,500 range. Higher-grade examples tend to appear in major auction house auctions and sell for big dollars.

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1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson #79
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson #791,658PSA 2 = 216PSA 2 = $7,500-8,500

1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson rookie card #50

Another card that is smaller than modern cards at 2 1/16″ x 2 1/2″, this is also considered Robinson’s rookie card despite being released slightly after the Leaf card.

This is another iconic card of the early post-War era, with a similar total PSA population to the Leaf card. While it is a strong seller, it does go for significantly less than the Leaf in a PSA 2, in the $3,200-3,700 range. Again, in higher grades the price goes up quickly here.

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1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson #50
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson #501,646PSA 2 = 152PSA 2 $3,200-3,700

While the 1948 Leaf and 1949 Bowman cards are considered Robinson’s rookie cards as they are his first nationally distributed card cards. But they technically aren’t Robinson’s very first cardboard appearances.

Jackie Robinson Pre-Rookie Cards

Enter Bond Bread, who produced several baseball card sets from 1945-1948 and distributed them with their loaves of bread. These are notable both because they were distributed with a non-confection product, but also because very few sets were produced during the WWII era and the years immediately afterward due to war rationing.

1947 Bond Bread D305

In 1947, Bond Bread included Robinson in their standard 44-card set (D305 in Jefferson Burdick’s American Card Catalog). The set includes 40 baseball players and 4 boxers. The cards are just a bit narrower than standard-sized cards at 2 1/4″ wide by 3 1/2″ and blank-backed. They were produced with both square and rounded corners.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, PSA does not grade this release. SGC does grade them, and SGC 2.5 recently sold for $5,398.

1947 Bond Bread D305
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1947 Bond Bread D305 Jackie RobinsonNANANA

1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson

Bond Bread also doubled down on Robinson, producing a 13-card set featuring just Robinson. While there’s some question to whether the entire series was produced in 1947 (due to some of the photos used), the set did begin in 1947. This set is classified as D302 in the American Card Catalog.

These cards, while the same size as the D305 cards, feature a different design and have an advertisement on the back, as opposed to being black-backed. The lone exception is one card that features a facsimile autograph on the front and a bio of Robinson on the back. This was likely a promotional card created in higher quantities than the rest of the set.

PSA has graded a total of 360 copies of cards from this set, with 1/3 of those graded being the promo card mentioned above. There are no PSA 9s or PSA 10s, with just a handful PSA 8ss. Even in low grades of PSA 1, PSA 1.5, and PSA 2, they sell well for handsome sums.

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1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson – Facsimile Auto120PSA 1 = 29PSA 1 = $4,000-4,500
1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson – Leaping Scoreboard In Back19PSA 1.5 = 2PSA 1.5 = $5,100

Other Great Vintage Jackie Robinson Baseball Cards

There are many amazing Jackie Robinson cards beyond his rookie cards. In fact, I’d argue that there wasn’t a single Robinson card produced during his playing career that isn’t desirable and popular with collectors.

We’ll explore some of the major offerings here, but there are a number of regional, oddball, postcards, and more that are worth chasing.

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1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson #22

The 1950 Bowman cards are another smaller-sized card, at 2 1/16″ x 2 1/2”. But with full-color images on the front, they’ve long been a popular offering. The set consists of 252 cards, which were released in a single series.

The 1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson card was number 22 in the set. It has been graded over 1,400 times by PSA, with high-grade examples hard to find and very expensive. There is only one PSA 10, and only 12 PSA 9s. A PSA 7 recently sold on eBay for over $7,300.

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1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson #22
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1950 Bowman Jackie Robinson #221,442PSA 2 = 165PSA 2 = $1,750-1,850

1952 Berk Ross Jackie Robinson #NNO

Berk Ross produced cards in 1951 and 1952, and a lot of the detail around the company and set is lost to the dustbin of history.

What we do know is that while generally not as popular with collectors as the major brands of the day, these tend to have a very low population count. Also, they have been getting a second look from collectors of late, leading to an increase in demand and prices.

The Jackie Robinson card has a total PSA population of only 228 copies, with no PSA 10s and only 3 PSA 9s. 

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1952 Berk Ross Jackie Robinson #NNO
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1952 Berk Ross Jackie Robinson #NNO228PSA 4 = 29PSA 4 = $2,075

1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312

What do you get when you combine one of the most iconic players of all time with one of the most iconic baseball card sets of all time? You get one of the most iconic cards of all time, of course. That’s the 1952 Topps Jackie Robinson card in a nutshell.

Considering the popularity of Robinson and the 1952 Topps set, the population here is actually surprisingly low (about 500 fewer than the Mickey Mantle card).

Even in a PSA 1, it sells strongly in the $3,000-$3,500 range. Higher-grade examples start to go up in price exponentially. A couple of PSA 9s sold in 2021 for close to $1 million each.

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1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #312
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1952 Topps Jackie Robinson #3121,331PSA 1 = 162PSA 1 = $3,000-$3,500

1953 Topps Jackie Robinson #1

Robinson got the honor of card #1 in the 1953 Topps set. In an era when sets were held together with rubber bands, that means the card is condition sensitive. Despite almost 3,700 copies being graded by PSA, here are only 1 PSA 10 and 8 PSA 9s.

In lower grades, like a PSA 1, these are available for less than $1,000, making it a potential pick-up on a more budget (although certainly not inexpensive). For an iconic (and beautiful, btw) card, that’s a reasonable buy-in.

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1953 Topps Jackie Robinson #1
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1953 Topps Jackie Robinson #13,690PSA 6 = 300PSA 6 = $3,650-4,750

1954 Topps Jackie Robinson #10

The 1954 Topps set features brightly colored backgrounds, which collectors usually either love or hate. Regardless of which side you fall on, the card is undoubtedly another classic vintage Robinson card.

As we get into the later career Robinson cards, the total PSA counts get higher and prices for low-to-mid-grade copies start to get more affordable. Keep an eye out for a good deal if you’re looking for one of these – recent sale prices and BIN prices on eBay right now show a significant gap, meaning if you can be patient, a better deal may be possible.

High-grade copies are still tough to find, with no PSA 10s and only 22 PSA 9s. A couple of recent PSA 8 sales have been in the $8,500-8,700 range.

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1954 Topps Jackie Robinson #10
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1954 Topps Jackie Robinson #105,674PSA 4 = 980PSA 4 = $600-700

1955 Topps Jackie Robinson #50

Jackie Robinson’s 1955 Topps card is from the era when Topps went horizontal with their card designs and produced cards that were larger than modern cards. In my opinion, the 1955 and 1956 Topps sets are some of the best-looking ever produced, and the Jackie Robinson card is a great example of just how great-looking a card can be.

With close to 6,000 PSA-graded copies, these aren’t absurdly hard to find, although they sell well in just about any grade, with higher-grade cards fetching high prices.

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1955 Topps Jackie Robinson #50
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1955 Topps Jackie Robinson #505,937PSA 7 = 446PSA 7 = $2,700-3,300

Looking for even harder-to-find 1955 Jackie Robinson cards? Check out the 1955 Topps Double Header Jackie Robinson / Don Hoak #25-26 (total PSA pop 310) and 1955 Topps Hocus Focus Jackie Robinson #16 (total PSA pop 5).

1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30

Like all 1956 Topps cards, the 1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30 came in two variations, “white back” and the rarer “gray back”. While the gray back is the rarer and slightly more valuable variation, I have to admit that I really like the way the white backs “pop”. That’s the version I bought when I picked up a PSA 4 of this card recently.

The 1956 Topps is Robinson’s final major issue card produced during his playing career, which ended in 1956. Interestingly, he didn’t appear on ANY cards in 1957 to commemorate his retirement. In fact, from 1957-1972, he appeared on either zero or one card per year. That’s a shockingly low number for a player of his caliber and historical importance.

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1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30 Gray & White Back Variations
CardTotal PSA PopRecent Sale PopRecent Sale Price
1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30 White Back5,426PSA 7 = 710PSA 7 = $2,000
1956 Topps Jackie Robinson #30 Gray Back2,297PSA 6 = 284PSA 6 = $1,200-1,500

Once again, Robinson appeared in the Hocus Pocus set in 1956. The 1956 Topps Hocus Focus Jackie Robinson #14 offers another tough find with a total PSA count of only 12.

Modern Jackie Robinson baseball cards

According to the Trading Card Database (TCDB.com), Jackie Robinson appeared on only 56 cards during his playing career (1947-1956). Meanwhile, in 2022 alone, he appeared on 370 different cards. This is not a shocking development considering the continued popularity of Jackie Robinson with collectors.

With so many Jackie Robinson cards being created, there’s something for every budget and taste, from base cards to vintage-themed cards, to shiny chrome cards. There are parallels that span the rainbow and range from the fairly easy-to-find to 1/1’s.

Jackie Robinson passed away far too young in 1972, long before the current card and autograph craze. So, if you’re looking for a certified Jackie Robinson card, you’re left chasing cut signature cards, many of them 1/1s. A number have been produced over the years, with asking prices typically in the $15,000-$25,000 range. 

Another fun wrinkle. Some of the post-career Jackie Robinson cards are now old enough to be considered “vintage” themselves. Check out the 1984 Negro League Baseball Stars, 1960 Nu-Cards Baseball Hi-Lites, and the 1974 Laughlin All-Star Games or 1974 TCMA 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers.

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Final thoughts on the top Jackie Robinson baseball cards

Jackie Robinson was a historical figure of great importance and an amazing baseball player. And his cards remain to this day some of the most iconic in the history of the hobby.

Thanks to the continued demand for Jackie Robinson cards, there is a Jackie Robinson card for every collector’s budget and taste, from the high-end vintage collector hunting high-grade rookie and playing day’s cards to modern chrome collector chasing parallels, and everything in between.

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Mike D.

Mike D

Mike D. has collected cards for over 35 years, since he bought his first pack of Topps at the corner store in 1987. His fandom,  collecting interests, and contributions to Cardlines center around baseball in general and the Baseball Hall of Fame specifically.

Mike's collecting focus is centered on graded cards, mostly rookie cards, of Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers. Lately, he's been enjoying dabbling in graded minor league cards. A collector/investor with a "buy and hold" approach, Mike takes the long-term view with his collection.
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