Generally speaking, pitchers don’t get as much hobby love as position players, which is more evident with modern cards. The reason for this is probably because fans only see a pitcher play every four or five days. But in case you are a fan of pitchers, or looking to expand the depth of your collection, here’s a rundown of 10 cards of the sport’s greatest post-war pitchers in MLB history.
1953 Topps #220 Satchell Paige
Paige made his MLB at 42 and is regarded as the best pitcher to come out of the Negro Leagues. He joined the Hall of Fame in 1971, and his 1953 Topps card is a highly desirable hobby classic.
1975 Topps #500 Nolan Ryan
Ryan’s 1968 Topps rookie card is great too, but I’ve always liked the look of the immensely popular 1975 Topps set more than the 68s. Did you know Ryan’s number is retired by three different teams (Angels, Astros, and Rangers)?
1957 Topps #25 Whitey Ford
I feel Ford is an underrated 10x All-Star. He’s the Yankee’s record holder in career wins, and he threw 45 shutouts in 16 seasons. When I think of his cards, 1957 stands out to me.
1959 Topps #514 Bob Gibson
The 1959 Topps Gibson is a tough high-numbered card that’s particularly tough to track down well-centered (don’t the borders seem a bit uneven in the example above for a PSA 10?). Gibson was a ferocious competitor and struck out 3117 batters, but many people forget what a great fielder he was, winning 9 Gold Gloves.
1956 Topps #79 Sandy Koufax
Sandy’s 1955 Topps rookie card is excellent, but I prefer the pitching action on his 1956 Topps second-year card. Koufax is the standard answer to the question of “Who do you wish had played longer?” as he only pitched 12 seasons, during which he put up an impressive 165 wins, 2396 strikeouts with a 2.76 earned run average winning 3 Cy Young awards.
1952 Topps #88 Bob Feller
Feller’s 1952 Topps card is a standout to me, but maybe the yellow background makes it easy for me to remember? No matter, it’s a great card in a fantastic set. Feller was known for having an incredibly speedy fastball. Many batters felt he was the best pitcher of the era. He was a first-ballot hall of fame inductee in 1962.
1967 Topps #581 Tom Seaver
Seaver’s rookie card is the most expensive in an immensely popular set. So, this card isn’t cheap, as the tough high-number sells for around $4k in PSA 8 condition. In terms of statistics, Seaver won 311 games over his career, made 12 All-Star games, and won 3 Cy Young Awards.
1971 Topps #26 Bert Blyleven
The 1971 Topps cards are some of the toughest to find in nice condition (in the history of the Topps brand) due to the black borders. Bert was a 2011 inductee into the Hall of Fame after 287 wins and a 3.31 earned run average.
1977 Topps #615 Phil Niekro
Niekro won 121 games after 40, so I didn’t feel it made sense to include any of his earlier cards. Niekro won 318 games, the most by a knuckleballer, over 24 seasons. He’s also famous for winning and losing 20 games in the same season, going 21-20 in 1979 for the Braves.
1951 Bowman #134 Warren Spahn
Spahn’s 1951 Bowman card is an incredible work of art that I think any vintage collector would like (the 1950 Bowman card is the same, but I like the larger dimensions of the 51s). His accomplishments were impressive too, Spahn is the winningest left-handed pitcher with 363 wins, and he made the All-Star game 17 times.
Let me know if you think pitchers are underappreciated in the hobby over on Twitter. Suppose none of those players appeal to you or fit in your collections. In that case, you might want to consider more modern pitching greats like Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, or Mike Mussina. And in the more classically vintage post-war era Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, and Fergie Jenkins have great cards.