13 Most Valuable 1977 Topps Baseball Cards
Of all the vintage sets in this hobby, the 1977 Topps baseball card set is often one of the most frequently overlooked.
And somewhat unfairly, in my opinion...
Yes, there aren't many eye-popping, iconic rookie cards.
But the checklist is loaded with Hall of Famers and colorful eye appeal.
And the 1977 baseball season itself was one of the most interesting of the decade, packed with headlines like the Tom Seaver trade, turmoil in the Yankees clubhouse, and a surging Los Angeles Dodgers squad.
Whether you're a big fan of this set or not, it does pack a lot of nostalgia in its 660-card checklist.
And in this guide, I'll run through the thirteen most valuable.
Let's jump right in!
1977 Topps #650 Nolan Ryan
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $600
If any of Nolan Ryan’s 27 MLB seasons exemplified his all-or-nothing approach, it was 1977.
Three years before, Ryan led the Majors with a mind-boggling 367 strikeouts and 202 walks, the most free passes issued by any MLB pitcher since Bob Feller walked 208 hitters in 1938.
Fast forward to 1977, and the California Angels flamethrower was at it again as Ryan led all of baseball in both strikeouts (341) and walks allowed (204).
To put things into perspective, the 200-walk plateau has been reached only 24 times in Major League Baseball history.
And other than Ryan and Feller, all of those occurred before the start of the 20th Century.
Regardless of his wild ways in 1977, Ryan was still one of the most dominant pitchers in the sport.
While the Angels slogged their way through a 74-88 campaign, his starts were must-see occasions.
Finishing the season at 19-16 with a 2.77 ERA, Ryan paced the Majors in complete games (22), hits allowed per nine innings (6.0), home runs allowed per nine innings (0.4), and strikeouts per nine innings (10.4).
And perhaps not surprisingly, he led the American League with 21 wild pitches.
Ryan’s feast-or-famine 1977 season earned him his fourth All-Star selection, a third-place finish in the American League’s Cy Young voting, and a 24th -place finish in the AL’s MVP balloting.
1977 Topps #170 Thurman Munson
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $600
In January of 1977, future Hall-of-Fame catcher Thurman Munson agreed to a five-year contract with the New York Yankees for a $250,000 annual salary.
The team captain also received verbal confirmation from owner George Steinbrenner that he'd remain the highest-paid player on the team going forward.
That was an empty promise.
A couple of months before, Steinbrenner signed Reggie Jackson to an incentive-rich deal for a higher annual salary.
Munson was infuriated.
It didn't help that Jackson was a clubhouse pariah and openly questioned Munson's leadership capabilities.
It was a tabloid-baiting year for the Bronx Bombers.
Munson and Jackson barely concealed their contempt for each other from game to game.
To Munson's credit, he had another banner year despite the drama, injuries, and a severe staph infection.
In 638 plate appearances (595 at-bats), Munson slashed .308/.351/.462 with 18 home runs and 100 RBI.
He earned his sixth All-Star selection and a seventh-place finish in the American League's MVP race.
And while Jackson's heroics were the story of the 1977 World Series, Munson's two October home runs, eight RBI, and stellar backstop work were arguably just as crucial
1977 Topps #473 Andre Dawson Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $550
Andre Dawson’s 21-year MLB career kicked off with a September call-up to the Montreal Expos in 1976.
Although inconsistent in his debut stint, he showed flashes of the slugging prowess and fielding skill set that would define his Hall-of-Fame career.
In 1977, "The Hawk" started showing more than just flashes of his future greatness
As Montreal’s brand-new starting centerfielder, the 22-year-old Miami, Florida native was simply electric.
He could hit for average, hit for power, and cover plenty of ground in center with great off-the-bat positional instincts and pure athleticism.
In 566 plate appearances (525 at-bats), Dawson posted a .282/.326/.474 slash line with 19 home runs and 65 RBI.
He also hammered 26 doubles, nine triples and stole 21 bases.
All of this was enough for Dawson to win the National Leagues Rookie of the Year award with a 42% share of the vote, barely edging out New York Mets left fielder Steve Henderson by 4%.
A couple of years after his stellar rookie campaign, Dawson blossomed into a perennial MVP candidate.
1977 Topps #150 Tom Seaver
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $500
1977 was a heck of a year for New York City.
A major blackout.
The Son of Sam killings.
A contentious, polarizing mayoral election.
A Yankees title.
And the trade nicknamed the "Midnight Massacre."
On the shortlist of the greatest pitchers in MLB history, Tom Seaver was the catalyst for the New York Mets' rise from expansion laughingstock to championship contenders.
He won three NL Cy Young awards with the team (1969, 1973, 1975) and led them to their lone World Series title (1969).
Tom Seaver was the Mets.
But after a bitter contract dispute, that wouldn't be the case anymore.
The Mets seemingly saved the relationship with a last-hour contract offer before the 1977 trade deadline.
Seaver even called his agent to nix trade talks with the Cincinnati Reds.
But, a New York Daily News smear piece that name-dropped Seaver's wife was the last straw and Seaver demanded a trade.
The Mets agreed, shipping Seaver to Cincinnati for a forgettable package of young players.
The Mets' fan base was shocked.
Seaver, on the other hand, was embraced by the fans in Cincinnati.
The Reds finished in second place in the NL West, ten games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers at 88-74.
Seaver wasn't to blame, though.
The 32-year-old future Hall of Famer finished a combined 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA for New York and Cincinnati.
He led the Majors with a 1.014 WHIP and paced the National League in hits allowed per nine innings (6.9) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.97).
For his efforts, Seaver was named to his tenth All-Star team.
He finished third in the National League's Cy Young voting and 25th in the league's MVP balloting.
1977 Topps #476 Dale Murphy Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $450
After a September call-up in 1976, the Atlanta Braves sent 21-year-old catcher Dale Murphy back down to AAA Richmond before the 1977 campaign.
The Braves considered Murphy for a roster spot, but a case of the yips stamped his ticket back to the Minors.
Murphy struggled to throw the ball from his catching position and sometimes would bounce return throws to the pitcher at their cleats.
Throws to infielders veered wildly off-target, sometimes into the outfield.
While Murphy worked through his throwing issues, he pieced together the most impressive offensive season of his brief Minor League career, batting .305 with 22 home runs and a league-best 90 RBI.
It was enough to earn Murphy another September stint in Atlanta.
On September 15, Murphy rewarded the Braves’ faith in him with two home runs and four RBI in a thrilling 8-7 extra-inning win over the San Diego Padres.
His second homer of the game came off Rollie Fingers in the tenth for the deciding run.
In 18 games with the Braves, Murphy slashed .316/.316/.526 with two home runs and 14 RBI.
Though his rookie card shows him as a catcher, the next year, Murphy would make the team...as a first baseman.
1977 Topps #265 Mark Fidrych Rookie Card
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $400
1976 was the year of "The Bird," as Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych became a sensation throughout the baseball world.
He talked to the ball on the mound.
He talked to himself.
He was wild and demonstrative while other players adhered to baseball's unwritten rules.
And he dominated with lights-out precision, earning Rookie of the Year honors with a 2.34 ERA, 24 complete games, and 19 wins.
Fans clamored for him in a way that hasn't been seen since.
Sadly, Fidrych's meteoric rise came to a halt in 1977 after he injured his knee shagging flies in spring training.
After successful surgery, he returned to the club for a much-anticipated debut on May 27.
After recording losses in his first two starts, Fidrych rounded back into ace form.
He won six-straight times from June 6 to June 29 and earned a selection to his second-straight All-Star Game.
And then, it happened.
5.2 innings into an uncharacteristically rough outing against the Baltimore Orioles, Fidrych's arm went dead.
The Bird made two more starts in 1977 and only eighteen more from 1978-80 before retiring at just 25-years-old.
In 1985, his arm problem was finally diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff that ended Fidrych's career in an abrupt, cruel fashion.
1977 Topps #10 Reggie Jackson
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $375
Estimated Orioles Variation PSA 9 Mint Value: $60,000
After eight years with the Oakland Athletics, Reggie Jackson was heartbroken after being traded to the Baltimore Orioles before the 1976 season.
Jackson started slow, then caught fire late in his contract year.
Despite enjoying his time under Orioles manager Earl Weaver, Jackson decided to test free agency.
His decision paid off with a lucrative five-year, $2.96 million deal with the New York Yankees.
However, Jackson's big personality and off-the-cuff remarks caused a rift between him and his new Yankees teammates right away.
He clashed with team captain Thurman Munson.
He clashed with manager Billy Martin.
One of his many arguments with Martin nearly led to a fistfight on national television.
After calling Martin an "old man," Yankees coaches were forced to step in and break them up.
It was a mess.
But the Yankees were still really good and so was Jackson.
Jackson slashed .286/.375/.550 with 32 home runs and 110 RBI for the AL East champions, earning his seventh All-Star selection and an eighth-place finish in the AL's MVP race.
It got better in October. Much better.
The Yankees had signed Jackson to push the franchise to its first title in fifteen years and he did just that.
Topps obviously had to use a bit of airbrushing to depict Jackson in his Yankees uniform on this card.
And, there's actually a variation of his card that has a blank back and features Jackson in a Baltimore Orioles uniform with the same Yankees team affiliation listed above.
It's one of the most rare and expensive variations of any card in the hobby and has fetched five-figure price tags multiple times on the rare occasion it surfaced for sale.
1977 Topps #70 Johnny Bench
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $325
After a dip in production in 1976 because of nagging shoulder issues, Bench turned in a more typical performance in 1977 as he belted 31 home runs and drove in 109 RBI.
For his efforts, Bench continued his incredible streak of All-Star selections and Gold Glove awards, making it ten in a row for each.
However, though Bench did all he could to help the Reds to the NL pennant, the Dodgers would outpace them by ten games to earn their second trip to the NLCS in as many seasons.
Bench and "The Big Red Machine" consistently dominated the 1970s and are widely considered one of the greatest in baseball history.
The Reds made one final trip to the postseason with Bench on the roster in 1979 but were decisively swept by an impressive Pittsburgh Pirates team led by Willie Stargell and Dave Parker.
1977 Topps #656 Ron Guidry
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $300
1977 was the year that young Yankees lefty Ron Guidry became an ace.
After starting just once with sporadic bullpen outings in 1975 and 1976, he opened the 1977 season in the bullpen once again.
However, he stayed there for less than a month before an April 29 start against the Seattle Mariners.
Guidry answered the bell with a gem, shutting the Mariners out for 8.1 innings to earn the win, and by mid-May, he was a regular member of the starting rotation.
He dazzled from that point on, finishing the year with a 16-7 record and a 2.82 ERA, giving up just 174 hits in 210.2 innings while striking out 176 hitters against 65 walks.
It was enough to earn Guidry a seventh-place finish in the AL's Cy Young voting and an 18th-place finish in the league's MVP balloting.
Yet, his one World Series start was what everyone remembers most as Guidry went the distance in Game 4, scattering two earned runs and four hits while striking outseven in a 4-2 win.
"He's just as good as a guy as can be out there," manager Billy Martin gushed.
1977 Topps #580 George Brett
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $275
As an encore to his second-place finish in 1976's AL MVP balloting, Kansas City Royals third baseman George Brett followed up with another fantastic regular season in 1977.
Selected to his second-straight All-Star Game at just 24 years of age, Brett slashed .312/.373/.532 with 22 home runs and 88 RBI in 627 plate appearances (564 at-bats).
He also tallied his first of four 100-run seasons (105), posted the best OPS of his career to that point (.905), and earned a 13th-place finish in the American League's MVP voting.
All of this wouldn't matter much to Brett and the 102-win AL West champions, though, if they couldn't get past the Yankees in the ALCS for a second-straight year.
In 1976, Yankees first baseman Chris Chambliss's pennant-clinching walk-off solo home run sent Kansas City home in a daze.
In 1977, the ALCS once again went to a deciding Game 5.
It was tense.
Brett roped an RBI triple in the first inning to ignite the home crowd.
However, Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles took exception to Brett's hard slide and kicked Brett in the face.
Brett responded with a punch, and a bench-clearing brawl ensued.
The Royals had plenty of fight.
But, the Yankees ended the Royals' season once again with a ninth-inning haymaker.
Down 3-2 headed into the top of the ninth, the Yankees plated three unanswered runs and advanced with a 5-3 win.
1977 Topps #640 Carlton Fisk
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $250
Carlton Fisk was locked in and prolific throughout 1977 as he turned in arguably the best season of his Hall of Fame career.
Some may argue his rookie campaign in 1972 was his best overall because he snagged his only Gold Glove that year.
But Fisk's 1977 production on the offensive side of the ball was clearly his finest and one of the best offensive performances by any catcher on record.
The Red Sox icon notched personal bests in hits (169) and walks (75) which, in turn, resulted in his highest OBP (.402) and runs scored (106) over a single season.
He also turned in his second-highest totals for batting average (.315), home runs (26) and RBI (102).
Fisk was an easy selection to his fifth All-Star game and finished eighth in MVP voting.
Most cards on this list lack any action, but this one certainly doesn't, as Fisk eagerly awaits a throw at the plate to try and tag Yankees speedster Willie Randolph to prevent a run.
1977 Topps #635 Robin Yount
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $250
In his fourth year with the Milwaukee Brewers, shortstop Robin Yount had yet to receive All-Star recognition though he was already one of the best shortstops in baseball at just 21 years of age.
Possessing slick fielding skills and a winning plate approach, Yount was both the Brewers' present and future in 1977.
In 663 plate appearances (605 at-bats), he collected an impressive 174 hits for a robust .288 batting average.
And while his power hadn't fully developed, Yount was a proficient gap hitter, posting 42 extra-base hits (34 doubles, four triples, four home runs), doing damage to all fields.
Yet, while Yount marched towards future stardom, the Brewers organization was in disarray as the team lost an average of 92.5 games per year in Yount's first four seasons.
Even worse, manager Alex Grammas had lost the clubhouse.
"I can't say that I've enjoyed baseball that much," Yount once said.
Yount aired his grievances to Brewers' ownership and wanted to sign with the team long-term if they'd commit to a new direction and a winning attitude.
In 1978, he'd get his wish.
1977 Topps #450 Pete Rose
Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $225
Much like his Big Red Machine teammate, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose also turned in a pretty standard season of offensive production that fans had come to expect from the eventual all-time hits king.
Rose led the league in both plate appearances and at-bats for the fourth time in his career, which helped him surpass the 200 hit mark (204) for the ninth time in his career.
The 1977 season would be Rose's second-to-last season with the Reds during his first stint in Cincinnati before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.
While 1977 may have been another average season for Rose, the 1978 season would bring a couple of exciting milestones to his resume.
Rose gave Reds fans quite a treat as he passed the 3,000 career hits mark and set the third-longest hitting streak of all-time after hitting safely in 44 straight games before packing his bags for Philadelphia the next year.
1977 Topps Baseball Cards In Review
Overall, this set contains a little bit of everything to keep collectors and set builders busy.
There's plenty of Hall of Famers, several great rookie cards and an excellent, clean design with an uptick in quality when it comes to full-color photography.
Despite the improved printing quality, it's still not easy to piece together a complete set in high grade as the thin card stock is easily susceptible to damage.
Gone were the days of sets being released in different series as 1977 Topps made their way into collectors' hands in one series via cello packs, rack packs, wax packs, and vending boxes.
Within the set were also several different subsets, including:
- League Leaders (#1 - 8)
- Milestones (#231 - 234)
- Playoff Highlights (#276 - 277)
- World Series Highlights (#411 - 413)
- Turn Back the Clock (#433 - 437)
- Rookie Stars (#472 - 479; #487 - 494)
- Big League Brothers (#631 - 634)
While the set may somewhat fly under the vintage radar, there's certainly a lot of 70s baseball history and nostalgia packed within.