1951 Topps Baseball Cards – 10 Most Valuable

Even though they don’t get as much love as their kid brother (that would be 1952 Topps), 1951 Topps baseball cards are an integral part of baseball history.

In reality, 1951 Topps cards come in five flavors — Teams, Connie Mack‘s All-Stars, Major League All-Stars, Blue Backs, and Red Backs.

Those first three are sufficiently scarce that most collectors will be lucky to ever see even one card in their lifetimes.

So … we’ll focus on the Blue Back and Red Back sets.

1951 Topps Blue Backs Unopened Wax Pack

Each set contains 52 cards and is designed to let you play a baseball game with the players pictured — Billy Goodman is a bunt, Sherman Lollar is a strike, etc.

The sets feature different checklists, so you could have theoretically collected two complete and distinct “decks” of playing cards.

Of the two, the Blue Backs have always been considered to be more scarce, and the PSA Population Report shows about twice as many of the Reds have been submitted for grading.

But there are desirable cards in both sets, so we’re going to Franken-set this list of the most valuable 1951 Topps baseball cards — you’ll find Reds and Blacks mixed in here, ranked based on values for PSA 7 copies pulled from the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide.

1951 Topps Blue Back Richie Ashburn (#3)

1951 Topps Blue Back Richie Ashburn

Ashburn was as key member of the 1950 Phillies’ Whiz Kids team that streaked all the way to the World Series before running into a dynastic Yankees club.

During that magical season, Put Put hit .303 with an NL-leading 13 triples, and he would go on to cop National League batting titles in both 1955 and 1958.

Ashburn’s lifetime .308 average on the back of 2574 hits was enough for the Veteran’s Committee to vote him into the Hall of Fame in 1995.

On this list, Ashburn leads off with a $150 card in graded NM condition.

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1951 Topps Red Back Yogi Berra (#1)

1951 Topps Red Back Yogi Berra

The year this card was issued, Berra won the first of his three American League MVP awards, with the others coming in 1954 and 1955.

The Red Backs, though more common, have always been appealing to collectors for their superior star power, and Yogi leads the charge among the all-time greats.

He lines up here at about $115 in PSA 7.

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1951 Topps Blue Back Red Schoendienst (#6)

1951 Topps Blue Back Red Schoendienst

Schoendienst was another Veteran’s Committee selection, in 1989, an honor he won on the strenght of 2400+ hits and his role as the starting second baseman for two World Series winners — the 1946 St. Louis Cardinals and the 1957 Milwaukee Braves.

Probably didn’t hurt that he managed the Cards through their glorious run in the mid-to-late 1960s, either (save for the 1964 champs, who were guided by Johnny Keane).

The Blue Schoendienst is a $110 card in PSA 7.

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1951 Topps Blue Back Bobby Doerr (#37)

1951 Topps Blue Back Bobby Doerr

Except for 1945, when he was serving in the military, Doerr parked his slender frame at second base in Fenway Park in 1937, and he didn’t budge until after the 1951 season.

In between, he smacked 223 home runs, batted .288, collected 2000+ hits, and garnered nine All-Star selections.

He also happened to play alongside the great Ted Williams, who also just happened to be an influential part of the Veteran’s Committee in the mid-1980s.

So, for better or worse, Doerr made the VC cut in 1986, and his cards are all the better off for it.

This Blue Back is a $100+ buy in PSA 7.

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1951 Topps Blue Back Enos Slaughter (#30)

1951 Topps Blue Back Enos Slaughter

Slaughter starred in St. Louis through the 1940s — aside for three seasons of military service — before bouncing from the Yankees to the A’s to the Yankees to the Braves to end his career.

During that journey, he won two rings with the Cards and one with the Yanks, and he got the Veteran’s Committee HOF nod in 1985.

Oh, and Country was a key part of the Abbott and Costello classic, “Who’s on First” — you know, because Enos his first name. Get it? Get it?

To get his Blue Back, expect to pay about $85 for a PSA 7 copy.

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1951 Topps Blue Back Johnny Mize (#50)

1951 Topps Blue Back Johnny Mize

It looked for a long while like the Blue Backs would never feature a Hall of Famer at all, but that changed when the VC elected Mize in 1981.

Didn’t seem like that much of a stretch for a man who hit 51 homers in 1947, won four NL home run crowns, and nabbed five straight rings with the Yanks from 1949-53.

The slugger’s 1951 Topps card sells for about $75 in PSA 7 condition.

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1951 Topps Blue Back Eddie Yost (#1)

1951 Topps Blue Back Eddie Yost

Yost is sort of a forgotten man among fans and collectors these days, but it’s hard to stand out when you do your best work for a bad team (the Senators) in a league and at a time when a juggernaut is steamrolling everyone.

That would be the American League and the 1940s and 1950s Yankees, in case you’re wondering.

Yost was a steady force at third for 15 years or so, though, and he benefits from all the condition problems of being a #1 card here.

Expect a $70 price tag for a PSA 7 copy.

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1951 Topps Red Back Bob Feller (#22)

1951 Topps Red Back Bob Feller

Feller, on the other hand, was a superstar about as far back as anyone can remember.

Heck, he was setting strikeout records as a teenager!

By the time this card made its way to collectors, Feller had five 20-win seasons, an Opening Day no-hitter, and a World Series championship under his belt.

He’d win 22 in 1951 — his last 20-win season — and then turn his eyes toward Cooperstown.

Today, his Red Back is a $65 card in PSA 7.

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1951 Topps Red Back Phil Rizzuto (#5)

1951 Topps Red Back Phil Rizzuto

It took awhile for Scooter to join his Yankees teammates in the Hall of Fame, but he finally made the Veteran’s Committee cut in 1994.

The major knock on Rizzuto, of course, was his relatively weak offensive profile — a career line of .273, 38 home runs, 563 RBI, and less than 1600 hits doesn’t really inspire the imagination.

But Rizzuto was as solid as they came at shortstop, and he was a key component of the Yankees’ mid-century dynasty.

His 1951 Topps card sells for about $60 in PSA 7 condition.

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1951 Topps Red Back Duke Snider (#38)

1951 Topps Red Back Duke Snider

Snider pushed Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle for the title of most popular New York player for awhile — remember “Willie, Mickey, or the Duke”?

Of course, Duke fell short of those other gents in terms of career accomplishments, but he was a cog in centerfield for the Brooklyn (and Los Angeles) Dodgers for more than a decade.

A ring in 1955, plus 407 home runs, 2116 hits, and a .295 career average all add up to a HOF plaque and a $60 price tag here.

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(This is the 29th in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

The 1989 Topps baseball card set offered up a few things to distinguish it from its competitors.

First, as always, Topps “treated” collectors to mushy brown cardstock rather than the upgraded white stuff the other manufacturers were using by that point.

Next, we knew right out of the gate that Topps cards would be common as dirt. With the other sets, there was some hope for scarcity, but we knew where we stood with Topps.

Maybe most significantly, Topps was the only company — except for Score — to not include a rookie card of Ken Griffey, Jr., in their base set. No matter how much advance press Junior got, it seemed, he would have to wait for Topps Traded to make his debut with The Old Gum Company.

1989 Topps Sandy Alomar

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Now, I realize all of those distinctions sound negative for Topps, but they did do some things right.

For one thing, the 1989 Topps design was pretty solid. Nothing earth-shattering, but a clean, simple layout that kind of hinted at 1965 Topps in a whispering sort of way.

The pinkish card backs were distinctive, too, and definitely had that Topps-y feel we all know and love.

And, while they missed out on Griffey, Topps did manage to nab plenty of solid rookies for their 1989 base set.

Among those first-year players who generated excitement, either in 1989 or later on, were Bill Bene, Darryl Hamilton, Monty Fariss, Ramon Martinez, Rob Dibble, Jack Armstrong, Gary Sheffield, Ricky Jordan, Andy Benes, Chris Sabo, Jim Abbott, Willie Ansley, Randy Johnson, Brady Anderson, Dante Bichette, Robin Ventura, and Steve Avery.

That’s a solid bunch of players, regardless of how many of each card Topps produced — some of them shone early in their careers, some late, and some pretty much all the way through.

You might even recognize a couple of award-winners among the group, as well as one oversized Hall of Famer.

To that list, you can also add Gregg Jefferies, who wasn’t a rookie but made his base-set Topps debut with a “Future Star” card.

That’s a really solid pasteboard and something of an icon for a set that never gained a huge collector following, but there is at least one card that’s even better overall.

That would be card #648 of Sandy Alomar, Jr.

Like the Jefferies and Sheffield cards, the Alomar rookie is dubbed a “Future Star.”

And, unlike the Jefferies, the Alomar rookie card is just that — a rookie card.

That is, it’s Alomar’s first base Topps issue, and it’s a really nifty one.

There is young Sandy in his chocolate San Diego Padres uniform with his catcher’s mitt extended, ball just lodging itself into his palm. Alomar appears to be jawing with whoever threw the horsehide, a slight smile on his face lending a light air to the whole scene.

1989 Topps Sandy Alomar (back)

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Overall, this card is a striking visual of a guy who would win the American League Rookie of the Year award with the Cleveland Indians in 1990 en route to a 20-year Major League career.

Will Sandy Alomar ever pick up a Hall of Fame plaque?

Nah, not as a player, anyway.

But he’s already picked up the honor of appearing on the best 1989 Topps baseball card.

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(This is the 29th in our series of posts about the best baseball cards from the 1980s. Check out the rest of those posts here.)

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