The Nolan Ryan rookie card value has been a hot topic since The Ryan Express rode a career-ending stint with the Texas Rangers to stone-cold legend status in both the game and the hobby.

Back then, starting in 1989 and extending through Ryan’s last pitch in 1993, it seemed anything could happen every time the ageless righthander took to the mound — 20 strikeouts, a no-hitter, a 300th win, a 6000th strikeout … everything was a possibility.

And, as Ryan racked up the milestones start after start and year after year, he became absolute hobby royalty, and his rookie card value climbed through the roof.

Nolan Ryan Rookie Card Value — 1990s

In the days before the advent of grading, every Ryan rookie card was a hot commodity, and pricing was a wild-west affair. A card that you could have bought for under $100 most of the time up through the late 1980s began heating up for real in the 1990s as Ryan recorded his 300th win, his sixth and seventh no-hitters, and his 5000th strikeout (which came in August 1989).

By the summer of 1991, the Ryan rookie was a $1200 card in top condition, and you’d be hard-pressed to find any copy of the hobby classic for less than $500.

That surge helped lift all of Ryan’s card prices and, by the time he retired in 1993, you could count on his card sitting at or near the top of the value heap for whatever set they appeared in.

Nolan Ryan Rookie Card Value — Retirement and Hall of Fame

As with most players, even the great Nolan Ryan slid from the limelight after he retired, a situation hastened by the awful strike of 1994 and 1995, and baseball’s struggle to win back fans afterward.

In those years, the glare shone from stars like Cal Ripken, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire, and then Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and a new generation of Yankees dynasty.

In the interim, Ryan was elected to the Hall of Fame (in 1999), and his rookie card value saw the normal Cooperstown boost.

For the most part, though, Ryan’s cards didn’t — and don’t — need any help in climbing every higher, and they’ve spent most of the last 25 years or so riding along at the top of the market, again relative to the sets they’re in.

Nolan Ryan Rookie Card Value — Pandemic Boom

The Ryan rookie card was the perfect type of collectible to explode during the hobby boom — a verifiable hobby blue chip that had gained in value year over year for decades, but that hadn’t seen an impetus for huge price jumps in nearly as long.

If you check out PSA’s page for the card, you’ll see that the most common grade they have encountered is a PSA 4. Selling prices for the Ryan RC in that grade were in the $200-300 range before the COVID-19 pandemic began, in late 2019 and early 2020.

By the summer of 2021, that value had peaked in the $1000 to $1200 range before leveling out to today’s range of $700-800.

If we do the same exercise for all of the PSA Grades, we see the full pandemic-era story of the Nolan Ryan rookie card value:

Grade January 2020 Summer 2021 Summer 2022
PSA 10 $600,000
PSA 9 $26,000 $136,000 $100,000
PSA 8 $3000 $12,000 $7500
PSA 7 $1100 $3600 $2600
PSA 6 $600 $2200 $1600
PSA 5 $500 $1500 $1000
PSA 4 $300 $1000 $750
PSA 3 $250 $800 $500
PSA 2 $225 $600 $450
PSA 1 $175 $500 $350

The caveat here, of course, is that some of these represent very small sample sizes — PSA lists only one “perfect” 10 Ryan rookie card having changed hands, for example. That $600K sale came in 2020 as the pandemic raged.

Generally speaking, though, here in late 2022, is going to cost you four figures for decent grades and likely six figures (or more) once you get to the upper regions of the grading scale.

And what about the Nolan Ryan rookie card value for raw copies?

That’s a bit tougher to pin down since it’s going to depend to a large extent on the subjective grading standards used by both the seller and prospective buyers. If you take a look at the recent eBay sales for this card, though, you’ll find quite a few copies changing hands between $400 and $1000.

So while there is no easy answer to the question of “What is a Nolan Ryan rookie card worth?”, we can put a make a market-based estimate at any given point in time.

Nolan Ryan Rookie Card Value — Fall 2022

  • PSA 10: $600,000+
  • PSA 9: $100,000
  • PSA 8: $7500
  • PSA 7: $2600
  • PSA 6: $1600
  • PSA 5: $1000
  • PSA 4: $750
  • PSA 3: $500
  • PSA 2: $450
  • PSA 1: $350
  • Raw: $400-$1000

Baseball Card

End Date: Tuesday 06/25/2024 01:03:37 EDT
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