10 Most Valuable 1978 Topps Baseball Cards

Most Valuable 1978 Topps Baseball Cards

After perusing the 1978 Topps baseball card set, one thing that sticks out in my mind is how much Hall of Fame controversy there is within its checklist.

Some guys are clearly Hall of Famers.

But, there is a crop of other guys who are borderline...

Some have been fortunate enough to have received the Cooperstown nod from the Veterans Committee.

And then there are others, seemingly just as deserving, who still haven't received the call.

Fortunately, I don't have to make those close calls of who gets into the Hall of Fame and who doesn't, and instead, I can focus on their baseball cards.

And in this guide, I'll run through the ten most valuable in the set.

Let's jump right in!

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1978 Topps #707 Paul Molitor & Alan Trammell Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $900

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $150

Arguably the best multi-player rookie card in the hobby, the 1978 "Rookie Shortstops" card features two Hall of Famers in Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell.

Although shown here as a shortstop, Molitor spent relatively little time there since fellow Brewer Hall of Famer, Robin Yount, was already locked in at the position.

Instead, he transitioned between second and third for most of his career.

Known for his exceptional bat and speed on the base paths, Molitor was a 7-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger, 1993 World Series Champ/MVP, and collected 3,319 hits on his way to being a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2004.

On the other hand, Trammell did not earn enough votes to be elected into the Hall during his fifteen years of eligibility.

Despite being a 6-time All-Star, 3-time Silver Slugger, 4-time Gold Glover, the 1984 World Series MVP, and forming one of the most solid double-play combos in baseball history alongside Lou Whitaker, his resumé lacked the type of stats to make him an obvious choice.

Looking a bit deeper into some of the more advanced sabermetrics to see just how great he was, the Modern Baseball Committee inducted Trammell in 2018.

1978 Topps #707 Paul Molitor and Alan Trammell Rookie Card

1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $900

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $70

Nolan Ryan is one of the biggest names in the hobby as baseball card collectors simply love the guy.

How could they not?

"The Ryan Express" is the model for power pitching longevity.

Over an incredible 27-year career, he roasted opposing hitters with his astonishing velocity to the tune of a record 5,714 strikeouts and seven no-hitters.

Although he led the league in strikeouts (260) for the sixth time in seven years, the 1978 season wasn't one of his best as he went 10-13 with a 3.72 ERA.

Since he pitched from the 1960s to the 1990s, Nolan Ryan cards will remain among the most desirable from both the vintage and modern eras.

1978 Topps #400 Nolan Ryan Baseball Card

1978 Topps #36 Eddie Murray Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $600

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $65

One of the most desirable rookie cards of the 1970s, the 1978 Topps Eddie Murray shows the legendary slugger taking a practice swing and looking right at the camera.

The 1977 MLB Rookie of the Year, Topps recognized Murray as one of their "All-Star Rookies" in the set, as noted by the golden trophy in the lower-right corner.

Over his brilliant 21-year career, Murray became an 8-time All-Star, 3-time Silver Slugger, 3-time Gold Glover, and 1983 World Series champion.

Perhaps the most telling thing about Murray's greatness is that he is on the shortlist of players with 3,000+ hits and 500+ home runs along with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Rafael Palmeiro.

When considering PSA 10 grades, this card is actually the most expensive in the set as the most recent PSA 10 Murray rookie sold for just shy of $19,000 in May 2020.

1978 Topps #36 Eddie Murray Rookie Card

1978 Topps #100 George Brett

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $175

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $20

George Brett made his rookie card debut in the 1975 Topps set, but that isn't his only desirable card from the 1970s.

His 1978 Topps issue pictures Brett working on a massive wad of chewing tobacco with an All-Star badge in the lower-right corner to commemorate his efforts from the previous season.

The reverse of this card mentions Brett's 215 hits that he collected during the 1976 season, making him the only Royals hitter in team history with a 200+ hits season at the time.

Those 215 hits remain the second-most in team history to this day behind Willie Wilson's incredible 230 hits during the 1980 season.

Brett played in just 128 games in 1978 but still managed to lead the league in doubles (45) while making his third straight All-Star appearance.

1978 Topps #100 George Brett Baseball Card

1978 Topps #704 Lou Whitaker Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $175

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $15

At the Cooperstown induction ceremony for Jack Morris and Alan Trammell during the summer of 2018, one very noticeable thing seemed to be missing: their Tigers teammate, Lou Whitaker.

Whitaker was named the MLB Rookie of the Year in 1978 and went on to a fantastic 19-year career with Detroit, picking up 3 Gold Gloves, 4 Silver Sluggers, and 5 All-Star selections along the way.

I don't know the ins and outs of Hall of Fame voting, but Whitaker has Trammell beaten in each major stat category except for batting average:

Header

Hits

Runs

RBI

HR

BA

FLD %

WAR

Trammell

2,365

1,231

1,003

185

.285

.977

70.7

Whitaker

2,369

1,386

1,084

244

.276

.984

75.1

Maybe it's not a good comparison since they played different positions but it just doesn't seem right for one to be in the Hall of Fame without the other.

They were the Batman and Robin of double plays, playing in 1,918 games together, the most of any shortstop/second baseman combo in history.

And if advanced metrics helped Trammell into Cooperstown, they should help Whitaker, too, in my opinion.

His career WAR of 75.1 ranks seventh amongst second basemen and is well ahead of many other Hall of Famers at the position, including guys like Ryne Sandberg and Roberto Alomar.

If Whitaker is eventually inducted, his rookie card should jump in price.

1978 Topps #704 Lou Whitaker Rookie Card

1978 Topps #200 Reggie Jackson

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $150

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $15

Heading into the 1978 season, Reggie Jackson had just turned in one of the most memorable World Series performances in history.

In his last at-bat versus the Dodgers' Don Sutton in Gave Five of the 1977 World Series, Jackson sent one deep over the right field wall, but it wasn't enough as the Yankees would lose 10-4.

However, that home run was just the beginning of something remarkable.

After Dodgers righty Burt Hooton walked Jackson in his first plate appearance in front of the hometown New York crowd, Jackson blasted the first pitches of his next three at-bats off of Hooton, Elias Sosa and Charlie Hough over the outfield fence.

That gave Jackson four home runs on four consecutive swings (going back to Game Five) off four different Dodgers pitchers.

It was this performance that cemented his legacy as "Mr. October."

1978 Topps #200 Reggie Jackson Baseball Card

1978 Topps #580

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $100

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $15

Rod Carew started his Hall of Fame career at second base, but by the time the 1978 season rolled around, he was the Twins' full-time first baseman.

The 1977 season was Carew's finest as he would be named MVP after winning the batting title with an extraordinary .388 batting average, a personal best and Twins record, while also leading the league in runs scored (128), hits (239) and OPS (1.019).

His 1978 Topps card shows him transitioning from cap to helmet, getting back to work doing what he did best for 19 years in the Majors: hit.

Carew capped off his final season with the Twins in 1978 with his seventh batting title before being traded to California to finish his career with the Angels.

1978 Topps #580 Rod Carew Baseball Card

1978 Topps #282 Yankees Team

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $75

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $15

The Red Sox and Yankees finished the 1978 regular season tied for first place in the American League East with identical records of 99-63.

After a coin toss to decide who would host the one-game playoff, the teams went to Boston to duke it out at Fenway Park.

The Yankees sent Ron Guidry to the mound to face off against Boston's Mike Torrez and, after a hard-fought nail-biter, the Yankees ultimately prevailed, 5-4.

With a bit of momentum under their belts, the Yankees eventually became World Series champions after defeating the Dodgers in six, helped by Reggie Jackson's home run spree mentioned earlier.

1978 Topps #282 Yankees Team Baseball Card

1978 Topps #703 Jack Morris Rookie Card

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $75

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $10

No other pitcher gave up more hits, runs, and home runs in the 1980s as Jack Morris.

But, he also pitched the most innings and had the most wins during that decade.

He was wild at times with his split-finger fastball but a complete wizard in the postseason.

That was the kind of mixed career he had.

His five All-Star appearances, five top-five finishes in Cy Young voting, four World Series rings, 254 wins, and 3.90 ERA were impressive, but not enough to convince voters to send him to Cooperstown when he was eligible from 2000 to 2014.

Morris did finish with as high as 67.7% of the vote in 2013 but was still far short of the 75% he needed for election.

However, the Modern Era Committee finally inducted him in 2018 with his long-time Tigers teammate, Alan Trammell, as mentioned earlier.

Morris's card was among one of the 66 double-print cards in the set. 

1978 Topps #703 Jack Morris Rookie Card

1978 Topps #560 Dave Parker

Estimated PSA 9 Mint Value: $65

Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $10

Dave Parker was one of the best players of his era and 1978 happened to be the best season of his impressive career.

Along with belting 30 home runs and driving in 117 runs, Parker picked up the batting title, a Gold Glove, and the MVP award for his incredible year.

He was a 7-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover, 3-time Silver Slugger, 2-time batting champion, 2-time World Series champion, the 1978 MVP, and finished in the top-five of the MVP vote on four other occasions.

One of the most feared hitters of his day, "The Cobra" also had a cannon for an arm.

His overall resumé has frequently put him in the conversation of whether or not he should be in the Hall of Fame but only time will tell if he finally gets his day in Cooperstown.

1978 Topps #560 Dave Parker Baseball Card

1978 Topps Baseball Cards In Review

When it comes to sets from the 70s, I personally prefer those from the first half of the decade but this one still has plenty going for it.

Plagued by mis-cuts, printing defects, and ink smudges there are still some great rookie cards and plenty of Hall of Famers to collect.

The Hall of Fame inductions of Alan Trammell and Jack Morris have certainly boosted the set's overall desirability in recent years.

Within the 726-card checklist were also several different subsets, including:

  • Record Breakers (#1 - 7)
  • League Leaders (#201 - 208)
  • Playoff and World Series Highlights (#276 - 277)
  • Rookie Stars (#701 - 711)
  • Checklists

While some of the cards can be quite expensive in high grade, the 1978 Topps set is one of the more affordable vintage sets that you can put together.

Ross Uitts
 

Ross is the founder of Old Sports Cards and has been collecting sports cards for over 30 years. He also loves to write about the hobby and has written for Beckett, Topps, SABR and of course, this website. Need help buying or selling cards or have a general question about the hobby? Contact him at [email protected]

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