Has there ever been a better cardboard representation of an era than the psychedelic funk 1972 Topps baseball cards dropped on collectors way back when?

I mean, here you had wild colors … starburst team names … arched borders … mutton chops and handlebars and fu manchus and long hair and afros and chest hair like shag carpet even if you couldn’t really see it.

You knew it was there.

Add in superstars and rookies and Hall of Famers and a huge checklist and scarce high numbers, and you have a set that’s stoked collectors for decades.

So which of these classic cards are the most valuable?

Glad you asked …

What follows are the ten most valuable 1972 Topps baseball cards, as listed in the PSA Sports Market Report Price Guide for PSA 8 copies.

1972 Topps Carlton Fisk Rookie Card (#79)

1972 Topps Carlton Fisk Cecil Cooper Rookie Card

Who was the greatest catcher of the 1970s? Yeah, Johnny Bench.

How about the greatest catcher of the 1980s? Can I get a Gary Carter?

Um … the 90s? Probably Ivan Rodriguez, right?

Ah, but how about the greatest catcher who played in big chunks of all three decades … who would that be? Dude doesn’t even exist you say?

Au contraire!

Carlton Fisk was smashing baseballs and gunning down runners for the Boston Red Sox when I was just a baby, and he was doing the same for the Chicago White Sox when I was finishing up college.

Absolutely amazing, and little wonder that his rookie card sits here in the top spot, at about $150 for a PSA 8 copy.

Of course, sharing your RC with Mike Garman — not to mention Cecil Cooper — never hurt anyone’s cardboard values, either.

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1972 Topps Nolan Ryan (#595)

1972 Topps Nolan Ryan

Ryan and Fisk both retired after the 1993 season, but Ryan started his Big League career a couple seasons before Pudge did.

And Ryan was dominant just about all long the way, save for some wild early years with the New York Mets. A December 1971 trade to the California Angels ended all that and set Ryan on his way to legend status.

By the time this semi-high series card was issued, Topps knew it had to show The Ryan Express with his new team, so they airbrushed on the Halos’ garb.

Not an artistic masterpiece, but not bad enough to keep Ryan from roughly equalling Fisk, value-wise, either.

Another $150 card in graded NM-MT condition.

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1972 Topps Hank Aaron (#299)

1972 Topps Hank Aaron

As the 1972 season dawned, so did a realization for fans who hadn’t been following Hank Aaron closely for the previous 18 seasons … this was the man who would make a serious run at Babe Ruth‘s all-time home run record.

After all, Mickey Mantle was three years in the rearview mirror, and Willie Mays was fading fast.

But not Hammering Hank, who clubbed 47 homers in 1971 to sail into ’72 with 639 to his credit, less than 80 shy of the Bambino.

This card shows Hank doing what he did best — holding a bat — against a blue sky. It’s a posed shot, but you get the feeling Henry still may tie into one somehow.

The ’72 Aaron sells for north of $100 when you can find it in PSA 8.

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1972 Topps Roberto Clemente (#309)

1972 Topps Roberto Clemente

This is Clemente’s last regular Topps card issued before his death in the winter of 1972, and it’s a straight-up beauty.

In fact, this shot of a contemplative legend tossing a baseball against a backdrop of the Pittsburgh faithful, all swaddled in that 1972 powder blue and accentuated by the “PIRATES” starburst usually scores high on “best card of all-time” lists.

Expect to pay about $100 for a PSA 8 copy.

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1972 Topps Pete Rose (#559)


Love him or hate him, Pete Rose was pretty much the most exciting player in the game during the 1970s, and much of the 1960s and 1980s, too.

And, there was a time when Rose’s cards were just about the most valuable cardboard in every set they graced.

It helps things a lot — value-wise — that this 1972 issue is a sorta high number and that it looks so darn good, especially if you’re a fan of the Cincinnati Reds.

For all his warts and all the bad blood surrounding Rose over the last thirty years, this is still a $90 (or so) card in PSA 8 condition.

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1972 Topps Johnny Bench (#433)

1972 Topps Johnny Bench

Bench, of course, remains a beloved figure in the game even though he’s had his curmudgeonly moments.

See, dude was the first member of The Big Red Machine not named “Pete Rose” to really skyrocket to superstardom, and this beauty was issued during Bench’s monster 1972 season, after which he won his second National League MVP award in three years.

This one sits just behind the Rose card at about $80, but don’t be surprised if you find them flip-flopped from time to time.

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1972 Topps Rod Carew (#695)

1972 Topps Rod Carew

So here you have the perfect storm — the greatest pure hitter of his generation on a scarce high-number card that just happens to look spectacular, too.

Before the rookie card craze grabbed hold of the hobby in earnest in the mid-1980s, this was just the sort of card that sat at the top of the market. Everybody loved Carew, and nobody could find this pasteboard.

Voila! Cardboard gold!!

Much of that glow remains, and this card usually sells for $70 or more in PSA 8 these days.

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1972 Topps Joe Morgan Traded (#752)

1972 Topps Traded Joe Morgan

What was the worst trade ever?

Was it Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio?

Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen?

John Smoltz for Doyle Alexander?

They all have their detractors, but there were few deals with consequences more far-reaching than the November 1971 pact in which the Houston Astros sent Joe Morgan, Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, and Denis Menke to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Tommy Helms, Lee May, and Jimmy Stewart.

It was both the beginning of Morgan’s march to the Hall of Fame and maybe the final stroke of construction on the aforementioned Big Red Machine that would win World Series titles in 1975 and 1976.

Of course, the swap came too late for Topps to get the players in their new uniforms for 1972, but they did manage to issue a second card of Little Joe late in the season. It showed him in his rightful Reds togs and featured a big rubber-stamp TRADED across the front.

Today, this monumental card is a $60+ item in PSA 8.

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1972 Topps Willie Mays (#49)

1972 Topps Willie Mays

The Say Hey Kid may have been nearing the end of the line in 1972, but fans still loved him.

We still do today, especially the “collector” type of fan, like you and me.

And this Topps card is extra special for long-time Mays followers because it’s the last base issue from T.C.G. to feature Mays with the San Francisco Giants.

Because, by the time this baby was issued, Mays was back in New York, with the Mets, and starting to look feeble.

But this shining moment in cardboard can bring $60 or more in PSA 8.

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1972 Topps Reggie Jackson (#435)

1972 Topps Reggie Jackson

Ho, hum … another early 1970s Topps set, another great card of Reggie Jackson. This one shows his powerful left-handed stance and focused eyes to great effect.

Not to mention his A’s-green longsleeves, gray-white vest with gold piping, and A’s hard hat shining in the sun.

An awesome early 70s tableau of a man who was in the midst of building his legend, and another $60 card (in PSA 8).

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1972 Topps Tom Seaver (#445)

1972 Topps Tom Seaver

In 2019, baseball fans were shocked and saddened to learn that Tom Seaver had been stricken by dementia, and that he was retiring from all public appearances.

The reality of Tom Terrific’s situation is all the harder to swallow when you see him as he appears on his 1972 Topps baseball card …

Following through on a toss, peering at you with determination, wearing his shiny blue Mets warmup jacket. All under a perfect blue sky that makes you think everything will always be OK, that every day will be spring.

Everything won’t always be OK, of course, but this card makes things OK enough in the here and now to bring $50 or more in PSA 8 condition.

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