We talk a lot about scarcity and popularity in the pre-1974 Topps world. Sometimes the card is more known for being a scarce card than for being a popular player (1966 Topps Grant Jackson) and sometimes a card is popular because of the player pictured although there is nothing rare or scarce about that card (1964 Topps Mickey Mantle). However, when we have a combination of the two, then a really popular card among collectors because of name and scarcity brings more attention to the surface. Such an example is the 1967 Topps Brooks Robinson.
Those of us who have met Brooks Robinson, even briefly, nearly always states that he is among the nicest people you will ever want to meet. When Frank and Vivian Barning’s son, Randy made Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd feature for completing an unassisted triple play in Little League, Robinson tracked down the young man and sent him a hand-written note of encouragement and congratulations. Yes, Robinson was truly a great ambassador for baseball. Even during his playing career he was well known for how fan-friendly he was in Baltimore, which had a small town feel to the city in the 1960’s.
When 1967 rolled around, Robinson already had a Most Valuable Player award in his trophy case (1964) and was still a major Orioles star as they had just won their first World Series by sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing them all of two runs in four games. Topps held off on producing a Robinson card till the very last series but did give him one of their ultimate honors by giving him the number 600. Usually players with numbers such as 100, 200, etc were players of the level of Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax level.
Not only was Robinson a popular player in the last series of 1967 Topps cards but his card in particular seemed difficult to find, especially in higher grades.
There was a circa 1979 Sports Collectors Digest cover article that said two major dealers,Gary Sawatzki and Duane Schroen, sorted more than 5000 1967 cards and found nary a high number Brooks Robinson among that bunch. They did mention all the other popular 1967 hi #’s were available in their lot leading them to wonder just how short printed this card truly was.
We now know that the card wasn’t quite as scarce as many thought but after that article, the race was on to find them and to see how valuable the Robinson might be in upcoming price guides. With the hobby exploding in popularity, the word was out and Robinson was now the key to completing the 1967 set. Rookie cards of Rod Carew and Tom Seaver were valuable and important, but everyone, it seemed, was after Brooks. A well-liked star player, a scarce series and a great looking card is a tough combination to beat.
Ever since that point, the 1967 Topps Brooks Robinson card has always been a popular card as a tougher card in a very attractive set. It’s not the toughest 1967 Topps high number to find in high grade. Many commons are far more difficult, but there are only 24 9’s on the PSA Population Report and just one 10, making it slightly more difficult than the Carew rookie. The 10 sold in 2010 for $2,550.
Graded, mint examples have been selling for an average of around $1,300, while 8's typically bring $425-500 (although one sold last week for a remarkable $689 which could signal renewed interest). A near mint copies can usually be had for around $200.
While the internet means the card is now available in virtually any grade with a mouse click or two (see them on eBay here), it remains one of the 1960s’ most coveted cards.