22 Yogi Berra Baseball Cards You Need To Own
Items of Yankee legends are always popular among sports collectors and Yogi Berra baseball cards are no exception.
One of the most well-known names in baseball history, he also became a cultural icon for his funny sayings like “the future ain’t what it used to be” and “I never said most of the things I said”.
Born Lawrence Berra, he earned the nickname “Yogi” from a childhood friend who thought he looked similar to an Indian yogi he saw during a movie.
Yogi went on to be one of the best (if not the best) catchers and most feared hitters of all-time. A 3-time MVP, 15-time All-Star and member of 10 World Series championship teams, Berra’s place in baseball history is forever cemented.
Here is a list of the 22 best Yogi Berra cards that any serious collector should pursue.
1948 Bowman #6 Yogi Berra Rookie Card
The 1948 Bowman #6 is the only official Yogi Berra rookie card in the hobby. The small 2 1/16” by 2 1/2” black and white card shows a very young Berra looking up after a swing. Mint condition cards are almost impossible to come by, and will easily run for thousands of dollars. By 1948, Berra had been playing with the Yankees for two seasons. Over the next 14 years, a season would not pass that Yogi was not called up to play for at least 100 games. Along with the Warren Spahn and Stan Musial rookie cards, this one is the key to the set.
1949 Bowman #60
1949 would be the first of five times in a row that the Yankees would win the World Series with Yogi on the field. His ability to hit low pitches into home runs made him a huge asset to the team’s success. He was once again called up to the All-Star team for the second year in his young career. The bright red background, while the rest of the colors remain muted, give the picture a surreal look. His name does not appear anywhere on the front of the card as he was part of the first half of the 1949 Bowman print run which didn’t include player nameplates.
1950 Bowman #46
Before Topps arrived on the scene and took over the world of baseball cards, Bowman was the go to for kids collecting cards. The 1950 set was especially amazing because for the first time ever it featured full color, hand painted renditions of real photos of the players. Any collector would want to have a piece of what many have called one of the most important sets in baseball card history. Yogi is shown squatting and arm cocked, ready to gun out a would-be base runner.
1951 Bowman #2
As the Yankees went on to win the World Series for a third consecutive time, Yogi would be awarded his first title of American League Most Valuable Player. The card commemorating this great year shows a close up of Berra smiling in his pinstripe jersey. Also of note is the use of his real name “Larry” along the bottom of the card. It’s a beautiful card but centering and other condition challenges are still an issue.
1952 Bowman #1
Yogi followed up his amazing ‘51 season with 98 RBI in and 30 home runs, which would be his all-time career high. He was once again an All-Star and World Series champ. This card often suffers from toning problems, staining and centering issues but it’s still a very attractive issue. The artist’s rendition features a focused Berra, ready at the plate, along with his autograph across the image. It would be one of two mainstream cards on which Berra appeared that year.
1952 Topps #191
This card is the most valuable of Yogi’s career even though it was issued several years after his rookie season–something you don’t see too often in the hobby. The iconic ’52 Topps set features full color photos of candid shots of each player. Yogi’s name and autograph are surrounded by stars with a Yankees logo nearby. The set is one of the most difficult to collect as there are varying numbers depending on if you’re trying to collect the basic set or the true master set. Pair that with the outrageously high prices of many of the cards, and you’ve got yourself one of the hardest sets to own. The Mantle and Mays cards easily outshine every other player in the set but Berra’s is still key. Tilting and centering are typical challenges with this card.
1953 Bowman Color #121
Bowman stepped up their game in 1953 by offering full-color, large-sized cards featuring the 160 best major league players. Nothing else appears on the front of these cards, with all focus on the picture of the player. Yogi’s card in this set is one of the entire collection’s most important cards. It is incredibly difficult to find in good condition, as many specimens feature print lines and poor centering. Relaxing in the dugout, it’s easy to envision Yogi laying out one of his famous sayings in this picture.
1953 Topps #104
It would be the last of the five year streak of World Series wins for the Yankees. Yogi would be called up to the All-Star game once again for his stellar performance during the season. The card features a portrait of Berra with his cap on and a determined look on his face. His name, position and team are found in a red box at the bottom left corner. A beautiful card, no doubt, it’s still one of the few of his mainstream issues where he’s not smiling. Chipping along the red bottom border is a common concern for collectors.
1954 Bowman #161
In 1954, Yogi received his second of three American League Most Valuable Player titles. The card has an excellent full color photo of Yogi smiling on it. Underneath in a salmon colored box, Yogi’s signature appears. For such a great looking card, the price tag isn’t as steep as many Berra cards. The backs of the cards in this set are graced with trivia questions, humorous anecdotes and player records.
1954 Topps #50
Topps embraced a whole new design for their ‘54 set. Yogi’s card has a bold green background with a black and white cut-out action shot of him swinging the bat. A larger, cut-out color photo of Yogi about to make a catch steals the focus of the card. His signature trails across the bottom of the card while his name, team and position are recorded at the top. These cards are prone to rounded corners and centering issues, which devalues them drastically.
1955 Bowman #168
Bowman clearly put some creative thought into their 1955 set. Photos of players are in borders that are meant to look like color TVs. Berra has his bat over his shoulder, ready to hit whatever comes to him. The only problem with the awesome TV borders is that the dark brown color chips so easily. Only his last name “Berra” accompanies him on this card.
1955 Topps #198
The Yankees faced the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1955 World Series, a series in which one of the most iconic moments in the game’s history took place. Down 4-6 in the top of the 8th of Game 1, Jackie Robinson famously stole home plate–something Berra remained upset about for years thereafter.
1956 Topps #110
The Yankees would have their chance at redemption in 1956, as once again they would end up facing the Dodgers in the World Series. This time, the Yankees brought the heat. Even though Berra helped catch in Don Larsen’s perfect, no hit game, the teams still pushed the battle to a game 7. Much to the credit of Yogi, who hit a homerun and batted 4 runners in, the Yankees smashed the Dodgers in a 9-0 domination. The whole season was a great one for Berra, giving him many of his personal bests which still hold to this day. Another great horizontal issue, Berra is is depicted in a close up head shot along the left and in a small action shot on the right.
1957 Topps #2
The 1957 Topps set was fairly large in size, at 407 cards. While Yogi’s teammate, Mickey Mantle, is the real star of the set, Berra’s card still sells close to $3,000 in top condition. The focus in ‘57 was elsewhere in New York, as it would be the last season for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants before the teams relocated to the west coast. His ’57 Topps issue is a sharp-looking card with a full on headshot of the Yankee legend on center stage. Centering is probably the number one condition issue that affects this card.
1958 Topps #370
Topps decided to punch up the color factor in the 1958 set. Each card has one of nine different brightly colored backgrounds. The backs of these cards featured small cartoons about the players. Yogi’s card is electric orange with a cutout photo of him smiling over top. A blue banner at the bottom reads his position and team name. It was an excellent season for Yogi. He played 88 perfect games landing him one of several 1.000 fielding averages in his career. Centering and print blotches are typically the biggest challenges for this card.
1959 Topps #180
Berra was the first catcher to keep one finger out of the glove while catching. Many other catchers followed suit in the years to come. Yogi would once again make it to the All-Star team in 1959. The Topps set from that year was bold and totally new in design. A circular photo of Berra holding the bat with his autograph across it lays in front of an orange background. His name trails diagonally upwards at the the top of the card.
1960 Topps #480
The Yankees would find themselves once again in a World Series, this time facing the Pittsburgh Pirates. In what would be a devastating Game 7 loss, the Pirates’ Bill Mazeroski would hit a homerun that would win the game 10-9. The Yankees both outhit and outscored the Pirates, but one bad pitch would doom the game. It’s the last time Berra was featured on a horizontally-designed mainstream card. The iconic 1960 Topps card design displays a small black and white action shot of Berra on the left and a larger head shot on the right. Print dots can affect these cards but they’re still great looking.
1961 Topps #425
The 1961 Topps set is considered a classic despite its somewhat plain appearance. Print bubbles can appear in the colored blocks at the bottom but for the most part this is one of the easier sets in the ’60s to find in high grade. Yogi’s card features a posed photo of him smiling, bat in hand. The backs of the card had no humorous anecdotes, just the plain old stats about each player. The Yankees would win yet another World Series in ‘61, this time against the Cincinnati Reds. This was their 19th championship win out of 39 seasons. They won the match-up in just five games, completely crushing the Reds.
1962 Topps #360
Once again the Yankees found themselves in a World Series Championship going head to head with Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants. The match went right to game 7, with the Yankees stealing the victory by just one run. Yogi was 37 years old by this point, but he still played with stamina, even catching the entirety of a 22 inning game against the Detroit Tigers, which lasted seven whole hours. The famous wood-grain borders of the 1962 Topps set present chipping and wear challenges. Centering is also a common problem.
1963 Topps #340
This card features two photos of Berra, one small black and white shot of him holding the bat in a bright yellow circle, and a much larger full color photo of him smiling. The larger photo really shows his age. This would be the year that Yogi would retire as a player for The Yankees, and take his turn as a manager and coach for the team. Centering is a severe challenge and the red bottom borders also easily show wear and chipping.
1964 Topps #21
Yogi was able to lead the Yankees to the American League pennant against the St Louis Cardinals as a first year coach. The Yankees lost the matchup over seven games. Berra was having difficulty convincing the team that he was ready to manage, and he eventually was fired from the Yankees, leading to over a decade of bad blood between Yogi and the team. One of the easier sets to find in terms of print quality, 1964 Topps Berra cards are much easier to find in top condition. It’s also one of two Yogi Berra baseball cards to show him as a manager.
1965 Topps #470
In 1965, Berra officially ended his Yankees career by signing with the New York Mets as a coach. He would appear occasionally as a catcher throughout that season, mostly just for show. He would continue to be a coach in the years that followed, eventually leading the team to a World Series title. Tilt and centering are usually the more common issues with this card.
Yogi Berra Baseball Cards Wrap-up
Berra caught for the Yankees in each of his 19 years professional playing career and left a great series of baseball cards to collect.
Many have dubbed Yogi as the greatest catcher of all time. It’s not hard to understand why, as he caught 173 shutouts during his baseball career, an all-time high in the MLB.
Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972, the nation’s love for Yogi is obvious, as he has both a museum and a university stadium named in his honor. Yogi’s baseball career is the stuff legends are made of. Two plaques exist to commemorate Berra, one at the Baseball Hall of Fame and one in Monument Park. Berra would not enter The Yankees stadium for years after this honor, until the man responsible for firing him made a formal apology.
On September 22, 2015, Berra passed in his sleep at the age of 90. All of New York mourned the loss, with homage to Berra being paid as the Empire State Building was lit in Yankees pinstripes the following day.
After his death in 2015, President Obama awarded Yogi the Presidential Medal of Freedom for contributing to America’s strength as a nation. Yogi was married to his wife Carmen for over 65 years, until she passed away just one year before him. Yogi left behind a story that is worth being told, having had numerous films, plays and documentaries being made about him. As you collect the cards honoring this major icon in American history, be sure to tell yourself, “it ain’t over till it’s over.