If 1963 Topps baseball cards have a claim to fame, it’s this …

They were the first set not named “1952 Topps” to feature a modern rookie card that drove the hobby to new heights.

In case you can’t quite pull the name from your memory banks, let me help you out — Pete Rose lit the hobby on fire when the Montreal Expos traded him back to the Cincinnati Reds in 1984.

1963 Topps Wax Pack one-cent

That move came just in time for Rose to make his assault on Ty Cobb‘s all-time hit record, and it sent all his cards through the roof, led by his 1963 Topps rookie card.

But, while the Rose tide lifted all the cardboard ships around him, this set is loaded with plenty of other stellar pasteboards.

Here, then, are the 12 most valuable 1963 Topps baseball cards, as ranked according to PSA 7 values in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

Batter up!

1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie Card (#537)

1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie Card

Along about 1983, just as Mickey Mantle rookie cards were starting to pull away from the realm of “possible” for average folks, and as Ron Kittle and Darryl Strawberry were stirring the RC fires from the other end, a funny thing happened.

Old man Pete Rose found himself in another pennant run with the Philadelphia Phillies, and folks began to rumble — in earnest — that Pete was on the verge of breaking Ty Cobb’s all-time hit record.

Now, “verge” was a relative thing, as Rose was still a good year or two from the mark, but still … maybe time to start stocking up on Charlie Hustle cardboard?

And so, that’s just waht collectors — and investors/speculators — did. By the time Rose had run through a quick stint with the Montreal Expos in 1984 and returned home to manage the Cincinnati Reds late that season,
we were all frothing at the idea he’d set the record on the Riverfront.

Rose’s 1963 Topps rookie card soared past $100, then $200, and on an on. As he stood on first base next to Steve Garvey on September 11, 1985, after slapping an Eric Show offering for hit number 4192, Pete’s rookie rounded $350 and headed toward $500.

Like the rest of the hobby, and especially like everything Pete Rose, this card took it on the chin during the bust years and, especially, as Rose’s betting scandal unfolded.

These days, though, we pretty much know who we’re dealing with here and enough fans want to see Rose in the Hall of Fame, or at least to remember his Hall of Fame career, to push this card close to $2000 in PSA 7 condition.

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1963 Topps Mickey Mantle (#200)

1963 Topps Mickey Mantle

The Mick looks a little put off on this card to me. The way I see it, there are three possible explanations:

  1. The green-blue-color scheme does not flatter his natural skintones and Yankees pinstripes.
  2. The black-and-white inset is not befitting of baseball royalty, no matter how classic collectors say the contrast looks.
  3. The Pete Rose rookie card has relegated Mantle to the unfamiliar position of second place in card values for a 1960s set.

Whatever the case, this is still a primetime Mantle card that sells for close to $700 in PSA 7.

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1963 Topps Willie Stargell Rookie Card (#553)

1963 Topps Willie Stargell Rookie Card

If you had been a baseball card investor in 1963 — if there even was such a thing — these four-player rookies would have been both the ultimate crapshoot and the ultimate hedge.

I mean, do you bet on Pete Rose, Pedro Gonzalez, Ken McMullen, and Al Weis … or do you throw your dough at Brock Davis, Jim Gosger, John Herrnstein, and Willie Stargell?

And, if you were going to cut out the little circle head things and save them for posterity, which one should you keep?

Well, hindsight being what it is, we know the killjoy truth is you shouldn’t cut up your cards if you want them to be worth anything.

And we also know that Willie Stargell is the only Hall of Famer in this bunch.

Today, the Pops rookie card is a $250 buy in PSA 7.

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1963 Topps Roberto Clemente (#540)

1963 Topps Roberto Clemente

Clemente is one of those rare athletes who seems to have only become more popular since he left his sport.

Of course, Clemente didn’t just retire from baseball, or fade from the scene — he died in a tragic plane crash while on a relief mission after the 1972 season.

A quick election to Cooperstown, coupled with exactly 3000 hits and a well-established legend with the Pittsburgh Pirates all conspired to make Clemente one of the most beloved sports figures of the last 70 years.

Today, this 1963 “Bob” card is about a $200 item in graded NM condition.

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1963 Topps Sandy Koufax (#210)

1963 Topps Sandy Koufax

Though he had all the promise in the world wrapped up in his powerful left arm, it took Sandy Koufax like, forever, to put it all together on the mound for the Los Angeles (nee Brooklyn) Dodgers.

But put it all together he did in a magical 1963 season when he went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and 306 strikeouts.

That performance garnered him his first of three National League Cy Young Awards and kicked off a four-year run that’s among the best the game has ever seen.

This classic 1963 Topps card has become an icon of the Koufax prime years and, as such, it’s about a $175 buy in PSA 7.

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1963 Topps Willie Mays (#300)

1963 Topps Willie Mays

Mays suffered through a down year in 1963, when he hit “only” 38 home runs. Had he clubbed two more, he would have run off five straight years with at least 40, beginning in 1961 and stretching through 1965.

It all worked out for the legend, though, as that ’65 season was one of his absolute best — he smacked 52 bombs and nabbed NL MVP honors.

And, of course, he’d retire in 1973 with 660 home runs, more than 300 stolen bases, and a reputation as one of a handful of the greatest players ever.

This mid-career Mays card sells for around $175 these days.

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1963 Topps Hank Aaron (#390)

1963 Topps Hank Aaron

Like Mays, Aaron was a model of consistency, seemingly always hitting 30-40 home runs, driving in 100-130 runs, batting above .300.

In 1963, Hammer did his work for the Milwaukee Braves, and he turned in a typical 44 HR, 130 RBI, .319 line that netted him one of his million or so All-Star appearances and a third-place finish in NL MVP voting.

This 1963 Topps card that greeted collectors during that big season sells for around $150 today.

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1963 Topps Yogi Berra (#340)

1963 Topps Yogi Berra

Berra ended his historic 18-year run with the Yankees in 1963, when he split time between catching and coaching.

The next season, he would step into the dugout as the Bronx skipper for the first time before spending 1965 as a player-coach for the crosstown New York Mets.

As he wrapped things up as a player with the Yanks, collectors could pull this one final NYY-catcher card of Yogi, and today you can usually find it for around $130 in PSA 7.

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1963 Topps Bombers’ Best – Tresh, Mantle, Richardson (#173)

1963 Topps Bombers_ Best (Mantle, etc.)

You have to play up your best assets if you hope to succeed in life, so it’s not surprising Topps wanted to squeeze in another Mantle card.

Enter, “Bombers’ Best,” which showcased The Mick alongside Tom Tresh and Bobby Richardson.

So, how did Topps choose these particular Mantle sidekicks at the expense of, say, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Bill Skowron (Moose!), or Clete Boyer?

Hard to know for sure … probably just a matter of opportunity.

And, really, did it matter?

Mantle was and is the centerpiece of this card that sells for 100+ in PSA 7 today.

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1963 Topps Harmon Killebrew (#500)

1963 Topps Harmon Killebrew

By 1963, Killer had established himself as one of the American League’s big boppers and was in the midst of three straight 40+-homer seasons.

That status is reflected here in his card number, as the “century” pasteboards were generally reserved for the biggest names in the game.

Killebrew, of course, only built on his resume over the next decade or so, and this in-his-prime card sells for 100+ in slabbed NM condition today.

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1963 Topps Ernie Banks (#380)

1963 Topps Ernie Banks

The 1962 season was a monumental one for Ernie Banks.

For one thing, the long-time Chicago Cubs shortstop moved across the diamond to first base, where he’d spend the rest of his career.

And for another, he bumped up his power production from a five-year low of 29 in 1961 to a more slugger-esque 37 in ’62.

As it turned out, Mr. Cub would never again scale to those heights, and he’d only reach even 30 homers once more (with 32 in 1968).

No worries, though, because Banks was already a legend by the time this 1963 Topps card was issued, and his 512 career home runs made him an easy pick for the Hall of Fame.

Today, the ’63 Banks is $100 buy in PSA 7.

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1963 Topps Stan Musial (#250)

1963 Topps Stan Musial

With more than 3500 hits and more than 450 home runs to his name, Stan Musial had nothing at all left to prove entering the 1963 season.

But he did have millions of fans who hoped to get one more glimpse of Stan the Man … and he also had one final Topps card.

So, even as collectors were pulling his cardboard finale from wax packs that summer, the man himself was polishing off one of the great careers of all-time.

The 1963 Topps card of the St. Louis Cardinals legend sells for $90+ in graded NM condition these days.

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