You know about Mantle, whose Topps card now generates headlines when high grade examples sell. If you know the set, you know the Jackie Robinson, Eddie Mathews and all of the tough high numbers, too. So how about some underrated 1952 Topps baseball cards? We’ve pieced together a list of ten that should be worth more than they really are—and that’s good for anyone looking for value in the most popular post-War baseball card set of all.
In no particular order, here they are.
Minnie Minoso #195: His given name Orestes is on the card, but of course, we all know him as Minnie Minoso, who had a long and storied MLB career that spanned five decades. He made his big league debut back in 1949 and last stepped onto the big league diamond at age 50 in 1980. During that time span, Minoso played 13 full seasons of professional ball and earned his nickname, “The Cuban Comet”.
A career .298 big league hitter, Minoso enjoyed great success in his big league career as he was elected to nine All-Star games. He has received considerable Hall of Fame consideration and may find his way in someday. His 1952 Topps card is his rookie card and from the look of these listings, you can own a pretty nice example for $50-75.
Johnny Pesky #15: A legend in Red Sox nation, the only former Boston Red Sox player with his number retired who is not in the MLB Hall of Fame, Johnny Pesky lived and breathed Red Sox baseball. Serving as a player, coach, broadcaster, and executive, Pesky did more for the Boston Red Sox than anyone else who has ever walked the planet.
As a player, he was a career .307 hitter with an outstanding .394 on-base percentage. Not to mention he was effective in the field as well. Despite his popularity among Red Sox fans, prices still haven’t gone out of sight. A nice EX or even EX+ Pesky can be found on eBay for under $100.
Monte Irvin #26: Known for his highly successful Negro League career as a member of the Newark Eagles, Monte Irvin also enjoyed a successful eight-year Major League Baseball career. Elected into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1973 by the Negro Leagues Committee, Irvin was one of the first African-American players in Major League Baseball back in 1949.
A power hitter, Irvin clubbed 24 home runs in 1951 while hitting .312 with an outstanding .415 on-base percentage. He finished third in the league in MVP voting to Roy Campanella. Irvin’s 1952 Topps card is plentiful and there are autographed versions in the market thanks to his living a very long life. An unsigned copy with no creases and decent centering can be had for $40-60.
Virgil Trucks #262: Virgil “Fire” Trucks pitched effectively in a long and storied 17-year big league career. Striking out 418 batters and tossing four no-hitters in the Minor Leagues in 1941, Trucks obviously caused a ton of hype and delivered on it as well. Serving his country in World War II, Trucks missed all of the 1944 season and most of 1945 when he led his team to a World Series win. Despite missing this time, he still managed to win 177 big league games and posted a career 3.39 ERA. He tossed two no-hitters in his big league career, both of which came in the same year. You can purchase a nice PSA 5 example for no more than $40-50, which seems like an unbeatable deal given how effective he was as a big league pitcher.
Jackie Jensen #122– The American League MVP in 1958 after he smacked 35 home runs, Jackie Jensen is one of those rare players who played for both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. A two-sport star in college, Jensen was the first player to play in a Rose Bowl, World Series and All-Star game in his sporting career. Just one home run shy of 200 with 199 career blasts, Jensen’s rookie card came out in the 1952 set and a nice EX or slightly better example can usually be found for around $50-60.
Johnny Mize #129– A veteran in the Second World War, Johnny Mize had a Hall of Fame career yet many people have not even heard of him. A ten time All-Star who smashed 359 career home runs while hitting .312 lifetime with an unreal .397 on-base percentage, Mize was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1981 by the veteran’s committee.
Oddly enough, he was a distant cousin of Ty Cobb and married to a second cousin of Babe Ruth which is odd because they, too, are some of the greatest players to play the game. This is a beautifully designed, horizontal card that screams 1950s. Despite all Mize accomplished, you can own one in EX condition for under $75 which seems strange given that it is not much more than commons despite how successful he was in his career.
Larry Doby #243– Another veteran who also happened to be a highly successful Negro League player as well as a Major Leaguer, Larry Doby broke into the big leagues the same year as Jackie Robinson and was the first African-American player in the American League. In his 13 year big league career, Doby crushed 253 home runs and was elected to seven straight All-Star games from 1949 to 1955. He also served as the second African-American manager in big league history in 1978 when he managed the Chicago White Sox for less than a season. He is a Hall of Famer of course since the Veteran’s Committee voted him in back in 1998, putting him where he belongs. His 1952 Topps card is a little hard to find centered, but a check of eBay reveals some solid examples for around $100.
Early Wynn #277– A 300 game winner who also served his country, Earl Wynn is one of the greatest pitchers in big league history. Equipped with a hard fastball, Wynn was known for intimidating hitters while on the mound. His career spanned four decades from 1939 to 1963 and such success landed him in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 on his fourth try. Later on in his career once his power pitchers started to fall by the wayside, he won a Cy Young in 1959 while heavily relying upon a knuckleball. Wynn’s 1952 Topps card varies a little in price but $50-100 seems to be the range for a strong VG-EX type copy.
Dick Groat #369– Also an NBA guard for a short period of time, Dick Groat was an eight time All-Star and one of the better shortstops of his time. In addition to being in the College Basketball Hall of Fame, he is also in the College Baseball Hall of Fame showing how much of an athlete he truly was.
Groat racked up 2,138 career big league hits despite missing two seasons as he served his country in the Korean War. Since Groat was a rookie in 1952, his card in this set is his rookie card, not to mention a high number. His card is not as cheap as the rest because of that. They’re tough to find but eBay usually has a few–at $200 and up– making him a bit pricey but absolutely worth it.
Ted Kluszewski #29– One of the top first basemen of his time, Ted Kluszewski mashed 171 home runs from 1953 to 1956 but only managed to hit 108 in the other 11 years of his career. For a time, he was one of the most feared players in the league and his .298 career batting average is a testimony to this statement.
His number 18 was retired by the Cincinnati Reds in 1998, a tribute to his success in his career.
Despite his time as the top power hitter in the game, Kluszewski was in the first series and his card is easy to locate and very affordable at $50-75 for a VG-EX example.