Can you imagine how collectors must have felt ripping open the first packs of 1968 Topps baseball cards early that spring?

I mean, just a year before, Topps had issued one of the most classic and understated designs in their history, and then in 1968 … burlap?!?

Well, yeah, burlap.

All these years later, the ’68s seem to strike collectors about the same way they must have back then — we love them or … well, not so much.

No matter how you feel about the design, though, you can’t deny the 1968 set sports some of the most coveted cardboard swatches of the decade.

And that’s the purpose of this piece, to run down the ten most valuable 1968 Topps baseball cards, based on current PSA 7 prices according to the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

Let’s dig in, starting with …

1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie Card (#177)

1968-Topps-Nolan-Ryan

This is it … the Holy Grail of post-1950s baseball cards.

Now, you can’t really say that the Ryan rookie card built the hobby as we know it, or even the rookie card craze.

This Ryan stands on the shoulders of cards like 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, 1963 Topps Pete Rose, 1984 Donruss Don Mattingly, and a few others in that regard.

But, man, as The Ryan Express rolled through record after record in the early 1990s, his RC — shared with fellow standout Jerry Koosman — shot through the roof. The card wasn’t rare, really, but whenever one appeared at a card show, an audible group gasp filled the air as everyone rushed to see it.

I’ve never witnessed so much cash changing hands on the back of one card as I did during that period.

The ascent of that card eventually slowed down, but the excitement it engendered never really dimmed, and it pulled all Ryan cards to a new level.

Today, the Ryan rookie in PSA 7 condition typically brings $1000.

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1968 Topps Mickey Mantle (#280)

1968 Topps Mickey Mantle

This is one of the few sets he appears in where Mantle has to settle for anything less than the top spot when it comes to card values.

The 1968 Topps Mick features a classic late-career batting pose, but slides all the way to Number Two on this list, thanks to Mr. Ryan above.

Burlap Mick sells for $250+ in PSA 7.

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1968 Topps Johnny Bench Rookie Card (#247)

1968 Topps Johnny Bench

For the first 20 years or so of its existence, the Johnny Bench rookie card ruled the roost of the 1968 Topps set. And why not?

Bench built a stellar career with the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s, picking up two MVP awards along the way and generally establishing himself as the greatest catcher of all-time.

Today, his RC sells for nearly $200 in graded NM condition.

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1968 Topps Super Stars (Mantle, Mays, Killebrew) (#490)

1968 Topps Super Stars -- Harmon Killebrew-Willie Mays-Mickey Mantle

One of the fun things all us youngin’s used to look forward to before Interleague Play came along was seeing big names from the National League and American League all lumped together under one roof in the middle of the summer for the All-Star Game.

Never one to miss an opportunity to make us happy, Topps was pretty good about snapping pics of these meetings and pushing them out on cardboard.

In 1967, they managed to get three of the game’s most prodigious sluggers and then treated us to this Mickey MantleWillie MaysHarmon Killebrew affair in 1968.

More than 50 years later, this is about a $130 card in PSA 7.

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1968 Topps Willie Mays (#50)

1968 Topps Willie Mays

And speaking of Mays, you can never go wrong with a base card of the Say Hey Kid.

This one shows Willie just a couple of years past his 1965 peak, packing a big bat over his shoulder.

Expect to pay $80 or so for one in graded NM condition.

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1968 Topps Roberto Clemente (#150)

1968 Topps Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente was a super duper star when he played, and he became even more of a legend with his untimely death before the 1973 season.

His quick election to the Hall of Fame and the golden light cast by the succeeding years have only served to make Clemente more popular than ever.

This classic 1968 issue sells for around $80 in PSA 7.

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1968 Topps Hank Aaron (#110)

1968 Topps Hank Aaron

When I was a kid, my dad would wear a baseball cap to work in the yard (which for him usually meant digging trenches, moving boulders, etc. — you know, lightweight stuff).

When he got tired and hot, he’d either turn his cap around backwards or wear it up high on his head to let everything breathe and cool off.

That’s what this Hank Aaron card reminds me of … a man who’s been working hard at his craft and needs to cool off.

Only, Henry just heated up over the next six years or so en route to breaking Babe Ruth‘s all-time home run record.

This burlap beauty of The King sells for $70+ in PSA 7.

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1968 Topps Pete Rose (#230)

1968-Topps-Pete-Rose

You know the story on Pete — Hit King, gambling scandal, banned and disgraced, perpetually outside of Cooperstown.

On the hobby side of things, Pete has regained much of the swagger that made his cardboard must-haves for all us kiddies in the 1970s and 1980s, and this one checks in around $70 in graded NM condition.

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1968 Topps Tom Seaver (#45)

1968 Topps Tom Seaver

After Rose turned the hobby on its ear with his 1963 Topps rookie card, and before Ryan became the Kardboard King, the 1967 Topps Tom Seaver rookie card was untouchable.

But he shared that one with Bill Denehy, which makes this Seaver’s solo debut.

It features a great head shot that Topps liked so much they used it again in 1969.

The burlap version is a $50+ item in PSA 7.

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1968 Topps Rod Carew (#80)

1968 Topps Rod Carew

Like Seaver, Carew rose to cardboard fame on a double-player 1967 card (shared with Hank Allen), then made his solo debut in 1968.

This one also features the Topps All-Star Rookie logo and a nice posed shot of the Hall of Famer with a baseball in his hand.

You can expect to pay $50 or more for a PSA 7 specimen.

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