Once upon a time, the Mike Schmidt rookie card was nothing less than cardboard royalty.

Indeed, back in the initial years of the original hobby boom, during the early-to-mid 1980s, Schmidt’s first card carried an entire decade (the 1970s, that is) on its back, and he was nudging into territory occupied by the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and (then-recently) Pete Rose.

Those were the guys whose baseball cards always sat near the top of the heap, value- and demand-wise, for whatever sets they appeared in. There never seemed to be enough of their cards to go around, either.

And coming off consecutive National League MVP Awards in 1980 and 1981, Schmidt was peaking at just the right time from a hobby perspective.

Dale Murphy nabbed the next two MVPs, but Schmitty kept pounding home runs and winning Gold Gloves, building a case as one of the top handful of third basemen to every smother a line drive. And, when he bounced back (even though he had never really gone anywhere) to win a third MVP in 1986, folks started whispering about just how far Schmidt might climb on the all-time home run list.

That’s the sort of talk that really gets a fella’s baseball cards moving, of course, and Schmidt’s 1973 rookie card led the charge for the Phillies’ hot corner man … but all of his issues mildly blew up in the middle of the decade.

Alas, injuries and time finally caught up with Schmidt, who sailed past 500 home runs with ease but who also retired abruptly early in the 1989 season.

From there it was a cakewalk into the Hall of Fame, followed by what has been a pretty quiet retirement for one of baseball’s all-time greats.

As generations of younger, flashier players have excited us with their antics and sent us scrambling for their cards, Schmidt’s own rookie card has settled in as something of a forgotten classic — it still demands healthy prices, but there isn’t much of a stampede to find this pasteboard on any particular day.

Still, the Mike Schmidt rookie card stands as a hobby icon that helped build our pastime into what it is today, even if there are few who remember its heyday.

Here is everything you need to know about this cardboard classic.

(Note: The following sections contain affiliate links to eBay and Amazon listings for the cards being discussed.)

1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie Card (#615)

1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie Card

By the time this card made its way into the hands of collectors, Schmidt was deep into what would be his first full season (and official rookie season) with a bad Philadelphia Phillies team.

Issued in the last series of the last set Topps pushed out in chunks before beginning to send all cards to market at once beginning in 1974, the Schmidt rookie card suffered from the same sort of late-season collector apathy that afflicted most high-number cards. Fewer packs were opened late in the season, and Topps often even curtailed production of those late series because they knew collectors didn’t care that much by that point in the year.

All of that to say this: if you were to come across a big pile of 1973 Topps baseball cards that had been stashed away for the last five decades, you’d probably find more cards numbered 528 and under than over that marker of entry into the last series.

That includes the Schmidt rookie card, even though you wouldn’t know it to look at the PSA Population Report, which shows us a great example of selection bias and that the grading giant has handled more than 9000 copies of “1973 Rookie Third Basemen.”

Speaking of which …

You’ve probably noticed by now that Schmidt not only shares this card with two other gents but actually gets bottom billing, on both the card front and card back:

1973 Topps Mike Schmidt rookie card (back)

Ron Cey, of course, would go on to his own storied career, mostly with the Dodgers and Cubs. But this isn’t a Penguin rookie card at all — Cey appeared on a similar number the year before, in the 1972 Topps set.

John Hilton, meanwhile, was a highly-touted draft pick for the Padres before he went on to become Dave Hilton for the Toronto Blue Jays later in the decade. “Hilton” was his name, expansion teams were his game. Apparently.

As for Schmidt, well, he emitted mixed signals during that first year in Philly — the 18 home runs looked promising, but the .196 batting average and 136 strikeouts were pretty hideous in those days before anyone had ever uttered, “Three True Outcomes.”

Schmidt pretty much stomped out any waffling by fans or pundits in 1974, though, as he hit .282 and won his first of eight home run crowns (36) while driving in 116 runs to help the Phillies catapult all the way up to 80-82.

It was a straight line to Cooperstown for Schmidt from there, and a straight line to good times at Veterans Stadium for the Philly Phaithful.

After the Phillies won their first World Series in 1980, Schmidt was ready to step up as one of the first new hobby darlings just as Fleer and Donruss opened the floodgates in 1981.

Today, the 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt rookie card may not be a firestarter, but it’s a blue-chip classic that continues to command big bucks in the market.

The most common grade that PSA assigns to the copies of the is card it handles is a PSA 7, which, according to recent auction sales, trades hands in the range of $450-500.

Here are the values for Schmidt rookies in the upper reaches of the condition chart, again according to recent actual prices realized:

PSA 7 value: $450-500

PSA 8 value: $1000-1200

PSA 9 value: $5000-7000

PSA 10 value: $234,000

Take that PSA 10 value with a grain of salt, as PSA lists just three Schmidt rookies that have ever sold in that condition. Every one betters the last in terms of selling prices, with the last changing hands February of 2021 for the aforementioned $234K.

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

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Wait!

You thought we were done?

No way … not when there’s another Mike Schmidt rookie card to consider.

To wit, consider …

1973 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt Rookie Card (#615)

1973 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt

You probably know all about O-Pee-Chee baseball cards, but just in case you don’t, here is the spiel …

O-Pee-Chee (or OPC) was a Canadian candy company who first produced baseball cards in the 1930s, then sort of disappeared from the hobby for awhile by the end of the decade.

In the 1960s, OPC struck up a deal with Topps to distribute very Topps-like cards each year in Canada, but with a Canadian flair. Pretty much, that meant the cards would be bilingual, featuring English and French text.

That’s where we find OPC in 1973, when part of their end of the bargain was gracing the world with “Troisième-buts débutant 1973”:

1973 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt (back)

Other than slightly whiter cardstock, orange bubble gum, that splash of French, and the modified trademark and “PRINTED IN” line, this puppy is pretty much identical to the Topps Schmidt RC, wouldn’t you say?

Yeah.

One other key difference here, though, is that O-Pee-Chee generally had much lower print runs than their Topps counterpart, a fact that’s part of the reason PSA has graded fewer than 1000 of the OPC Schmidt rookie cards (through September 2022).

Another part is just that collectors dont’ clamor after OPC cards the way we do Topps cards, as evidenced by current values for the O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt rookie card (again, based on actual recent sales):

PSA 7 value: $400-450

PSA 8 value: $1000-1100

PSA 9 value: $1750-2500

PSA 10 value: $67,200

Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)

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Mike Schmidt Rookie Card 1973 Topps #615

$20.70 (3 Bids)
End Date: Monday 10/03/2022 22:00:01 EDT
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Mike Schmidt Rookie Card, very good/excellent condition

$30.00 ( 1 Bid)
End Date: Friday 10/07/2022 09:13:01 EDT
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1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie Card!

$69.98
End Date: Friday 10/07/2022 22:46:01 EDT
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1973 Topps #615 Mike Schmidt Rookie RC EX HOF Phillies (Ron Cey)

$4.95 ( 1 Bid)
End Date: Saturday 10/08/2022 20:54:07 EDT
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