Mike Schmidt is the greatest third baseman of all-time and one of the greatest overall players in the history of Major League Baseball. For several years in the 1980s, Mike Schmidt baseball cards were among the hottest in the hobby, too, as Iron Mike racked up three MVP awards and more than 500 career home runs.
But it’s been nearly 30 years now since Schmidt retired, and a lot has happened in that time.
Pete Rose was banned from baseball.
The game almost imploded due to the players’ strike in 1994 and 1995.
Home run records fell like Seattle rain during the so-called Steroid Era as bashers like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and — ahem — Brady Anderson rewrote the record books.
The hobby boomed and busted.
Along the way, Schmidt fell out of the public spotlight and mostly slid from collectors minds.
But Schmidt is still around, the sage veteran presence for a Philadelphia Phillies franchise that has fallen on hard times.
And his cards are still around, too, testaments to the wonders of the hobby’s glory years.
What follows is a rundown of every regular-issue Mike Schmidt baseball card produced by the major card companies during a storied career.
So sit back and enjoy the pasteboard show of the guy that Bill James once said was not that far off from the conversation for “best player ever.”
Not only is it the rookie card of a top-tier Hall of Famer, but it’s also part of the 1973 Topps high series — the very last time Topps produced before ushering in the modern era with an all-at-once 1974 series.
The Schmidt rookie card is no aesthetic masterpiece, and it relegates Mike to the last third of the real estate, but he does share rookie honors with John Hilton. Ron Cey is there, too, though technically his rookie card comes in the 1972 set.
No matter its shortcomings the 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt rookie card is a must-have for any serious vintage collector, and you usually can pick up a solid copy on ebay for less than $100.
It made some sense.
After all, this 1974 Topps pasteboard was the first to picture Schmidt all by himself, and it is still a very early card of a Hall of Famer.
While this card sold raw for nearly $100 at its peak, you can find solid PSA 7 copies today for well under $50.
By the time this 1975 Topps card was issued, Schmidt had led the league in home runs for the first time, with 36 in 1974. He was a legitimate power hitter with a bright future ahead of him, so it would have been great to see his big swing on this card.
Instead, collectors got an awkward head shot that didn’t tell them much about the quiet man with the monster bat.
But these 1975 cards were mostly about the design, and few things make a veteran collectors tummy flutter like a stack of these Chiclet-colored beauties. And if that stack has a legend — like Mike Schmidt — nestled inside?
All the better.
At first glance, this photo seems even worse than the 1975 Topps version — Mike Schmidt bunting?
On closer examination, I prefer to think that Schmitty has just slammed a bomb and is preparing to discard his bat and round the bases.
This was one of the first pre-1981 cards that I added to my own collection, so it holds a special place in my collector’s heart.
Solid card of a legend still ramping up.
The 1978 Topps set features a minimalist design that is somewhat reminiscent of the classic 1957 Topps set.
Too bad Topps chose to use all that photo real estate for so many boring head shots like this sixth-year Schmidt card.
Even with no “action,” though, this is a solid offering
Was Schmidt ever happy on a baseball card early in his career?
He doesn’t look too thrilled here on his 1979 Topps cards, for sure, but the color scheme works well and the overall design is clean.
Schmidt’s Topps offering got a little snazzier just in time for his first MVP campaign.
The batting-practice pose shows Schmidt’s intensity even in game prep and is nicely framed by the banner-laden 1980 Topps design and the “N.L. ALL-STAR” designation.
Schmidt didn’t break into a smile for his first non-Topps cards, but collectors were happy to see both Donruss and Fleer join The Old Gum Company on store shelves in 1981.
Donruss card stock was thin as tissue paper, but this is a decent looking glamour shot of Iron Mike.
Same warm-up suit.
Same “I’ll-mess-you-up” expression.
This is the first Schmidt card I remember pulling from a pack, and it still stokes the collector’s fire in me every time I see it.
One of the few cards to feature Mike live in the field, this 1981 Topps beauty makes you believe he could stop a train with his glove and grit.
Same warm-up suit.
Is that a smile on Mike Schmidt’s 1982 Fleer card?
He must have just won an award or something.
While not quite as toothy as his Fleer offering, the 1982 Topps Schmidt card came about as close to showing a smile as any Topps Schmitty pasteboard before it.
Strong follow-through from Mike on his 1983 Donruss card, with a design nearly identical to the 1982 set.
Schmidt must have really mellowed as the 1980s wore on because you can almost see an upturned corner of the mouth as he talks to an unidentified Montreal Expo on this 1983 Fleer card.
Who is that masked man?
Looks like either Tim Raines or Al Oliver, both of whom were on the 1982 NL All-Star roster.
Schmidt looks off-balance on his 1983 Topps card, but the power in his follow-through and the stunning card design make this one a winner all the way around.
The 1984 Donruss set established a new standard for card design and (perceived) scarcity.
It’s a classic issue that never goes out of style, and Donruss even managed to get Schmidt in a fielding shot.
Good on you, pre-Panini.
Maybe it’s because the company was based in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, but Schmidt seemed to love Fleer’s camera.
How else to explain all the smiles and near-smiles, as on this solid 1984 Fleer offering?
This is the first card I ever paid a premium for while I could still (or soon) pull it from a pack.
This beauty cost me 40 cents in March of 1984, purchased from a favorite dealer who used to set up at a local (Indianapolis) flea market.
Not a perfect card by any means, but not bad either.
And priceless in terms of nostalgia.
Donruss got in on the Smiling Schmidt craze with its 1985 offering.
Pretty sure Mike could have swung all three of those bats at once and slammed a dinger with each one.
This 1985 Fleer card broke the string of Schmidt head shots, but the sacrifice was worth it.
Just look at those colors and that awesome home run follow-through!
Even by 1984, when this photo for his 1985 Topps card was snapped, he still had some wheels — though they weren’t as good as he thought.
That season, he stole five bases … and was thrown out seven times.
Welcome to the gun show!
After several years of smiles and one at-bat action shot, Fleer treated collectors with this unusual pre-game shot of Schmidt in 1986.
Should their be air quotes around “treated”?
Sportflics had Magic Motion!
Sportflics had 3-D!
Sportflics had clean card backs!
Sportflics had thick card stock!
Sportflics had indecipherable images.
Ho hum. Another vicious follow-through on another Topps card during another MVP season for Big Mike Schmidt.
Iron Mike would get lost in the shuffle of young sluggers in 1987 and would finish 14th in MVP voting even though he had a better year than many of those ahead of him.
Schmitty in a sunny ballpark watching the flight of a home run (?) ball.
Pretty heady stuff.
The 1987 Sportflics set featured all of the same goodies as the 1986 inaugural set, but they added a color photo to card backs.
Doesn’t sound like much now, maybe, but it was awesome at the time.
The 1987 Topps set is a love-it-or-hate-it type of proposition.
Personally, I love it … one of my favorite sets of all-time.
Here, Schmidt looks on, apparently trying to decide how far he should hit the next pitch.
Did a ball just fly through the zone so fast the Mike Schmidt can’t figure out what happened?
Is he watching a bug crawl across the infield grass toward him?
Or is this a Starting Lineup Schmidt figurine?
Those are the mysteries of the 1988 Donruss Mike Schmidt card.
I always thought of 1988 Fleer as the Little Debbie set because the design reminds me of an icing-laden snack cake.
Photos are crowded out by busy border elements, but this image of Schmidt is pretty solid action shot nonetheless.
The 1988 Score set pushed the limits for baseball card technology at the time and had collectors excited by its quality white card stock, solid photography, and comprehensive card backs — complete with another, fairly large color photo.
The Schmidt card features the HOFer on his toes at third base, ready for whatever might come his way.
Sportflics was back in 1988 with a heavier card design and an even larger photo on the obverse.
I still have no idea what Schmitty is up to on the card front, though.
Schmidt’s last regular Donruss card treats collectors to one final classy follow-through.
Schmidt checks his swing and his career aspirations on this 1989 Fleer card.
Of all the regular-issue cards of Mike Schmidt over his storied career, it took until 1989 for a card company to capture him in the midst of his powerful swing.
Thanks, 1989 Score!
By this point, Sportflics was all about the back-of-card photo.
Mike Schmidt, running for first one last time on his 1989 Topps card.
Uppper Deck changed almost everything about the hobby in 1989, and they were lucky enough to get in one Schmidt card before the legend hung up his spikes.
I would have been OK if they switched the front and back photos, but it’s a great piece of hobby history no matter how you flip it.
I’m breaking my own rules by including this 1990 Donruss card here because it’s a tribute card, not really a regular-issue pasteboard.
But back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, companies just didn’t issue cards of non-active players, no matter how great.
Granting Schmidt this capstone offering that shows his entire career stats roll gets Donruss an extra feather in its cap.
Like the Donruss card above, this 1990 Upper Deck issue breaks my rules.
But Schmidt’s retirement deserved cardboard commemoration, and this artistic number does the trick.
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