If you want a cardboard snapshot of diamond history, you’ll have a hard time finding a better representation of an era than 1961 Topps baseball cards.

Sandwiched between the colorful, horizontal 1960s and the polarizing wood grain borders of the 1962, the 1961 Topps cards look tame by comparison.

But thanks to a gold rush of subsets, Topps managed squeeze in multiple cards of the game’s biggest names, which included monster sluggers who rewrote the record books.

The result is a “most valuable” list that looks like a 1960s Dream Team of power and leaves little room for mere mortals.

This list of the dozen most valuable 1961 Topps baseball cards is culled from PSA 7 listings in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide, and it’s sure to dazzle you with its starlight.

Let’s dig in!

1961 Topps Mickey Mantle (#300)

1961 Topps Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle may have considered 1956 to be his favorite summer, but there is little doubt which of The Mick’s seasons drew the most national attention …

In 1961, with teammate Roger Maris having won the American League MVP award in his first season with the New York Yankees (1960), speculation ran wild that maybe at least one of the dynamic duo could make a run at Babe Ruth‘s single-season home run record.

Somehow, the M & M Boys rose to the challenge and treated America to its first great home run race.

Though Mantle came up short in that sprint to history, his base card from their magical season sits at the top of the mountain all these years later.

Expect to pay $600 or more in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Mickey Mantle All-Star (#578)

1961 Topps Mickey Mantle All Star

In 1961, Topps adopted the first of their newspaper background All-Star card designs, and Mantle looks downright newsworthy breaking out of the center of his card as the American League center fielder.

It’s another beloved Mantle card that trumps everything this set has to offer except the base Mantle card.

The All-Star issue is about a $280 card in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Roger Maris (#2)

1961 Topps Roger Maris

In that long-ago, season-long home run derby that has become part of baseball lore, Maris kept pushing, no matter what.

When Mantle fell off due to injury, Roger kept going.

When Maris’s own pace fell off, he kept plugging away.

When the commissioner announced that a new record wouldn’t count if it didn’t happen within 154 games, Maris kept at it.

And when he came into the Yanks’ 163rd game still tied with Ruth, Maris kept hacking.

When all was said and done, Maris did get his 61st, and the new record, asterisk be damned.

This is the card that collectors gazed upon as their new hero plugged away at history, and it’s a $200 buy in PSA 7 today.

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1961 Topps Mickey Mantle MVP (#475)

1961 Topps Mickey Mantle MVP

Sometimes, even two cards of a legend aren’t enough splash for a baseball card set, so manufacturers have to find ways to pump in more.

In 1961, Topps addressed the situation by including an MVP subset, and one of those cards celebrated Mantle’s hardware from 1956 and 1957.

Today, it’s close to $200 in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Hank Aaron (#415)

1961 Topps Hank Aaron

Although Hank Aaron wasn’t considered a slugger in the same ilk as Mantle and Maris in 1961, the young Milwaukee Braves superstar had already captured a National League dinger title and the 1957 NL MVP award.

Of course, 13 years later, it would be Aaron taking aim at Ruth’s all-time career record for homers.

This 1961 Topps issue shows a primetime Hank rearing back with a baseball in his hand and the old tomahawk jersey shining through.

It’s a $150 card in graded NM condition.

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1961 Topps Roger Maris All-Star (#576)

1961 Topps Roger Maris All Star

Like Mantle cards throughout his career, 1961 Maris pasteboards are the bomb no matter what form they take.

This All-Star card is another classic paper-burst affair issued at the height of Roger’s prime.

In PSA 7, this card sells for $125 or more.

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1961 Topps Hank Aaron All-Star (#577)

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It’s tough for other guys to find breathing room when a set is stacked with multiple cards of multiple super duper stars.

So, it’s no surprise that another Aaron makes the cut here, where his All-Star card is about a $125 item in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Willie Mays All-Star (#579)

1961 Topps Willie Mays All Star

Here is a case where card scarcity and an immortal of the game conspire to generate a value anomaly — an All-Star card worth more than the base card of the same player.

The 1961 Topps All-Star Mays falls in line with the others in the semi-high-number subset at $125.

And the “regular” ’61 Mays? Read on.

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1961 Topps Roberto Clemente (#388)

1961 Topps Roberto Clemente

Clemente looks slightly miffed on this card, maybe even disdainful.

If I had to guess why, I’d say it has to do with Topps’ insistence on calling him “Bob” on cards throughout the 1960s.

What the heck?

Anyway, it’s a mid-career card of a baseball legend, and it sells for $100+ in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Willie Mays (#150)

1961 Topps Willie Mays

Mays may have been overshadowed by the American League fireworks in 1961, but he was in the midst of his own 40-homer season for the San Francisco Giants.

Four years later, the Say Hey Kid would tally his second 50-dinger summer en route to 660 in his career, all while displaying maybe the most well-rounded talent in baseball history.

This hatless Mays pasteboard is about a $100 item in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Juan Marichal Rookie Card (#417)

1961 Topps Juan Marichal Rookie Card

Juan Marichal was one of the great pitchers of the 1960s, which is really saying something considering how stout moundsmen were in general that decade.

Marichal also had one of the most identifiable deliveries the game has ever seen, prompting many youngsters to immitate the Cooperstown denizen’s high leg kick.

On the backs of all this legend, Manito’s smiling, short-printed rookie card sells for about $95 in PSA 7.

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1961 Topps Sandy Koufax (#344)

1961 Topps Sandy Koufax

Koufax put together his first All-Star season in 1961 before turning on the jets that would propel him to the Hall of Fame with a handful of unbelievable seasons through 1966.

As Koufax’s star was ascending, collectors were pulling this sunny 1961 Topps card from wax packs, and the spell was cast.

Today, this card sells for around $90 in graded NM condition.

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