1962 Topps Mike Ditka Rookie Card: The Ultimate Collector’s Guide
Because of his iconic status as both a player and coach, the 1962 Topps Mike Ditka rookie card continues to be one of the most desirable vintage football cards in the hobby.
As a player, Ditka won an NFL championship with the Bears in 1963 and later a Super Bowl (VI) with the Cowboys.
As an assistant coach, Ditka won a Super Bowl (XII) with the Cowboys and later would lead the Bears to victory in Super Bowl XX as head coach.
Ditka did nothing but win, no matter what role he had.
His importance to the game of football cannot be understated and in this guide, I take a detailed look at his rookie card.
Let's jump right in!
Distinction: This is his only recognized mainstream rookie card.
There are a few other oddball Ditka cards from 1962 that we'll discuss a bit later but this is the Ditka rookie card everyone wants.
And while the 1962 Topps set is loaded with other Hall of Famers like Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Bart Starr, and the "other" Hall of Fame rookie card in Fran Tarkenton, Ditka's card is easily one of the keys to the set.
Number: This is card #17 in a set of 176 cards.
Design: Topps chose to double-down on the unique look that year in going with both a horizontal layout and black borders.
The card measures 2-1/2 by 3-1/2 inches and is divided into three block sections: one that contains Ditka's name and player info, one with a smaller image of him playing at Pitt, and one with a larger image of him posing as a Chicago Bear.
He is actually wearing number 82 in the main image even though he famously wore #89.
Reverse Side: The back of the card is printed with a vertical layout and contains his personal information and statistics from his previous rookie season in 1961.
A small blurb about his success in leading the Bears in points (72) as a rookie sits over the stat box while much of the bottom section of the card is taken up by a cartoon and trivia question related to Jim Brown.
Condition Issues: The card can sometimes be off-centered but the most notorious issue is that the black borders on the front can easily show wear and chipping.
The same can be said for the red borders on the reverse side.
Both of these concerns are typically what keeps this card from achieving higher grades.
Mike Ditka Rookie Card Value
The first thing most collectors ask is: how much is a Mike Ditka rookie card worth?
In top condition, it can sell for well into the five figure range.
The key is finding one that hasn't been worn and torn over the years.
One that will stand up well against the strictest professional grading standards.
Professional grading is the easiest way to help judge a card's value and Professional Sports Authenticators (PSA) are usually thought to be the benchmark in that industry.
According to the PSA SMR price guide, current market values are:
PSA 9 MINT: $35,000
PSA 7 NM: $400
PSA 5 EX: $125
Other Early Mike Ditka Cards
1962 Post Cereal #111
First on the list of these oddball issue is his 1962 Post Cereal card.
These were cut by hand from cereal boxes so their reverse sides are blank.
However, the front side contains a nice image of Ditka, his personal information, and a nice write-up about his successes at both Pitt and with the Bears.
Estimated PSA 9 Value: $500
1962 Topps Bucks #47
Within each of their five-cent wax packs, Topps also included "Football Bucks" that featured players on denominations of either $1, $5 or $10.
There were 48 different bucks in the set and Ditka landed on a $1 buck that also gives a short blurb about his career on the left with an image of Wrigley on the right.
Estimated PSA 8 NM-MT Value: $100
Mike Ditka's Legacy
Mike Ditka has brought so much to the game of football as a player, coach and later television commentator.
Some of his major accomplishments as a player include:
- NFL Rookie of the Year (1961)
- NFL Championship (1963) and Super Bowl (VI)
- 5x Pro Bowl
- 4x First-team All-Pro
Some of his major accomplishments as a coach include:
- Super Bowl (XX) as head coach
- Super Bowl (XII) as assistant coach
- 2x NFL Coach of the Year (1985, 1988)
As you can see, he's got quite the resume.
He had an outstanding collegiate career at Pitt and burst onto the NFL scene in 1961 racking up 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns, stats that were unheard of for tight-ends back in those days.
Of all his accomplishments, the fact that he transformed the tight-end position into what we see today is perhaps his greatest legacy.
He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1988 becoming the first tight-end ever to be enshrined among the greats.
Mike Ditka rookie cards will continue to remain high on the list of many football card collectors' want lists for quite some time.