Fifty years later, the 1966 Topps set still is a hit with collectors but completing it means your want list gets a workout. The issue includes a straight forward design with the player’s name and position at the bottom with the team name printed diagonally in the upper left corner. Featuring a few key rookie cards (Jim Palmer, Fergie Jenkins, and Don Sutton lead the way) as well as legends such as Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and the last regular card of Sandy Koufax, there are no shortage of reasons to collect it. But there is definitely a shortage of 1966 Topps short prints, a group known to drive collectors batty.
With more than 40 of them on the checklist, it can make for a significant undertaking. Sports Collectors Daily previously reviewed the high numbers for scarcity, and while players like Ron Perranoski, Russ Snyder, and Claude Raymond aren’t exactly household names, they are known to be difficult to find in high-grade condition and only help to add to collector’s headaches when piecing together a set.
With the golden anniversary of this important issue upon us, here is a list of five key short prints. Some are just tough to find while others take on a premium because of the player’s star status (all due respect to the Billy Williams card, which features a great picture and just missed the cut).
5. (tie) Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers Team Cards (No. 526 and No. 583)
The Twins and Tigers were featured as short prints, making them even more desirable than the key standard team issues. Both squads included Hall of Fame sluggers with the Twins led by Harmon Killebrew and the Tigers featuring the legendary Al Kaline.
Helping the appeal of these two cards is that both teams had successful years, with the Twins finishing second and the Tigers coming in third in a competitive American League that saw the Baltimore Orioles go on to win the pennant and, eventually, their first World Series title.
The two cards are in high demand not just from set builders but those who collect cards of each team and regularly compete for them at shows and online.
Utilizing a horizontal layout, mid-grade examples of these short prints often sell in the $40 – $60 range.
4. St Louis Cardinals Rookies (No. 580)
A trio of St. Louis Cardinals rookies enter the countdown at No. 4. Joe Hoerner, George Kernek, and Jimmy Williams didn’t go on to big-time careers, but their inclusion in this list is based on its rarity – particularly in high-grade. With only approximately 25% of PSA-submitted issues being graded at NM/MT or above, it has proven to be a tough find for choosy collectors.
This one is often available in the $40-$60 range if you’re willing to settle for mid-grade. Near mint or better examples will run much higher.
3. Willie McCovey (No. 550)
McCovey tops the list in terms of name recognition and the fact that this is a short print makes it a desirable one for collectors. Any top five list has to include some star power and he brings that, checking in at No. 3. With 521 career home runs, the former Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player was one of the top sluggers of all time.
Adding to the allure of this 1966 Topps card is that it’s a really nice picture of the San Francisco Giant with bat in hand and with hundreds sent in for grading, has been one of the most popular and highest submitted cards in the entire set (tops among submissions for short prints). Fairly clean copies can usually be bought for around $40.
2. Grant Jackson/Bart Shirley Rookie Card (No. 591)
While Shirley’s career was mostly uneventful, Jackson went on to play a total of 18 seasons and reach three World Series as a pitcher, winning the final game of the 1979 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates championship team. Despite the fact that neither was considered a star player, their dual card is a rare and perhaps the priciest SP in the set, with even mid-grade issues regularly topping $100.
Why so expensive and how does such a seemingly mundane card rank so high on the list? With less than one-third of those submitted for grading at NM/MT or better, it is very difficult to find in high grade.
1. Gaylord Perry (No. 598)
Even though players such as Willie McCovey and Billy Williams outdo Perry in terms of name recognition, his card is king here in the 1966 Topps set when it comes to the short prints. It’s not only the very last card in the set, but that distinction makes finding it in prime condition very difficult as is often the case with an issue’s first and final cards that were regularly dinged up by collectors.
Many have tried to find high-grade specimens as evidenced by the 700+ submissions to PSA (second-highest among short prints behind only McCovey). However, to date, PSA’s Population Report shows that only 25% of cards sent in received a grade of 8 or higher.
The fact that Perry also had a Hall of Fame career makes this a great short print to own and helps push him to the top of our list. If you’re looking for one, mid-grade examples can be had for $50 – $75.