The distinguishing characteristic of 1974 Topps baseball cards was supposed to be that they were issued all at once.

And that’s still important, because the move from series production to lump-sum issues sort of marks the beginning of modern card collecting.

But in the winter of 1973-74, the San Diego Padres loused things up by almost moving to Washington, D.C., without really knowing their team name.

That coerced Topps into printing some Padres cards with a ‘WASHINGTON “NAT’L LEA.”‘ designation.

1974 topps washington nat'l lea.

Then Ray Kroc stepped in to buy the Padres and keep them in San Diego, and Topps had to scramble to update their “Nationals” cards.

What resulted was a series of the most confusing and sought-after variations of the last 50 years, with card values that far outstrip the status of the players pictured.

All of which is to say that we’re not going to consider those variations here in the list of most valuable 1974 Topps baseball cards.

Instead, we’re looking for the cards that sell well based on the players involved, as listed in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide for PSA 8 specimens.

With that disclaimer properly disclaimed, let’s dig in!

1974 Topps Dave Winfield (#456)

1974 Topps Dave Winfield

Winfield was drafted into just about every sport you can think of except maybe synchronized swimming … and I’m not sure on that one.

Dude probably would have been a superstar in any of them, too.

He chose baseball, though, and we all benefitted by being able to watch his 22-year Hall of Fame career unfold.

This rookie card has been a hobby staple for more than 30 years and checks in around $90 in PSA 8 these days.

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1974 Topps Hank Aaron (#1)

1974-Topps-Hank-Aaron-1

Hammerin’ Hank entered 1974 one home run short of Babe Ruth on the card leaderboard, which gave Topps plenty of time to prepare a proper tribute.

And boy, did they ever!

After issuing an all-time leaders card featuring Aaron, Ruth, and Willie Mays in 1973, TCG started out their 1974 set with six straight Aaron cards.

Numbers 2-6 feature miniature reproductions of Aaron’s previous Topps cards (see below), while this first card in the set proclaims him the “New All-Time Home Run King.”

Henry would make good on that promise just a couple games into the new season, and the stage was set for future cardboard domination.

This unique pasteboard is a $90 item in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Nolan Ryan (#20)

1974-topps-nolan-ryan

Ryan was in his flamethrowing prime for the California Angels in 1974, and this card shows him about to unleash some hellfire at you from across the desert.

A scary card that, like most Ryan cardboard, sits near the top of the value heap at $60 for graded NM-MT copies.

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1974 Topps Mike Schmidt (#283)

1974 topps mike schmidt

The first solo card for the greatest third baseman who ever lived? Yeah, that’s going to be popular with collectors.

In fact, for many years, this Schmidt second-year issue was the most expensive card in the 1974 set.

Today, it sells for around $40 in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Pete Rose (#300)

1974-Topps-Pete-Rose

In 1974, Rose was coming off the only National League MVP award in his long career and already seemed like a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Well … things haven’t panned out in that regard, but Pete remains a popular — if polarizing — figure with fans and collectors alike.

Expect to pay around $40 for this card in PSA 8 condition.

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1974 Topps Reggie Jackson (#130)

1974 Topps Reggie Jackson

In 1974, Reggie Jackson was still a few years away from the postseason exploits with the New York Yankees that would cement his status as baseball’s Mr. October.

But his Oakland A’s had won two World Series in a row and would add a third in 1974, and Reggie was a big part of that success.

Having won both the American League and World Series MVP trophies in 1973, and closing in on 200 home runs, Reggie was already flirting with Cooperstown.

Today, this card showing his powerful swing sells for $30+ in PSA 8 condition.

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1974 Topps Johnny Bench (#10)

1974 Topps Johnny Bench

Like Schmidt, Bench is widely considered to be the best ever at his position.

He also won two MVP awards and provided rock-solid production and handling of the pitching staff for the Big Red Machine teams that won two World Series in the middle 1970s.

This card featuring a sweet action-packed follow-through as JB has just tagged some poor baseball is a $25 buy in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Tom Seaver (#80)

1974 Topps Tom Seaver

As long as we’re talking “best of” here, you could make a pretty strong case for Tom Seaver as the best pitcher in all of baseball during the 1970s.

And all-time? Certainly top ten or better.

This card takes good advantage of its horizontal format to display Tom Terrific’s power in all its glory.

We even get a side order of Mets first baseman John Milner in the background!

All this can generally be yours in PSA 8 for around $25.

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1974 Topps Carlton Fisk (#105)

1974 Topps Carlton Fisk

Johnny Bench may have been the greatest catcher of the 70s — and all-time — but for awhile there, it looked like Carlton Fisk might actually play for all-time.

And at a very high level, to boot.

Fisk finally did hang up the spikes after a Hall of Fame with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, but he left a slew of awesome cardboard in his wake.

This 1974 Topps card features an exciting action shot at a cost of around $25 in PSA 8.

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1974 Topps Dave Parker (#252)

1974 Topps Dave Parker

For a lot of years, the 1974 set was rookie-card dead-heat between the two Big Daves — Winfield and Parker.

The Cobra took the early lead and looked like he might be an all-time great.

The wheels sort of fell off in Pittsburgh before he became an MVP candidate again in Cincinnati. And, though Parker remains outside of Cooperstown, his RC continues to pull in around $25 in PSA 7.

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1974 Topps Hank Aaron Retrospective (#2-6)

1974 Topps Hank Aaron Retrospective

As Aaron was bearing down on the home run record, Topps gave him plenty of real estate — as in the first six cards in their 1974 Topps set.

The last five of those (card numbers 2-6) feature quarter-size miniatures of Aaron’s Topps cards from 1954 through 1973, four per card.

It’s an idea the company has returned to several times over the years with other dignitaries of the game.

In the case of the 1974 Topps Aaron retrospective, expect to pay about $20 for each four-card card in PSA 8 condition.

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BONUS! 1974 Topps Willie McCovey – WASHINGTON “NAT’L LEA.” (#250)

1974 Topps Willie McCovey (Washington)

And … the rule-breaker.

Even though I swore up and down up there in the beginning of this post that I wouldn’t include any of the Washington Nat’l Lea. error cards, I couldn’t really resist including the only Hall of Famer thus affected.

So here is Stretch McCovey and his $35 error card (in PSA 8).

Enjoy the bonus viewing!

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1974 TOPPS BASEBALL - YOU PICK #1 - #200 - SHARP NMMT

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1974 TOPPS BASEBALL - YOU PICK #201 - #400 - SHARP NMMT

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1974 TOPPS BASEBALL - YOU PICK #401 - #600 - SHARP NMMT

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1974 Topps Baseball Card Singles #251-500 (YOU PICK CARDS) $1.50 FREE SHIPPING

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1974 TOPPS BASEBALL - YOU PICK #601 - #660 - SHARP NMMT

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