It had been ten years since the glory days of the Milwaukee Braves but Eddie Mathews, whose career began in the early 1950s when most teams still traveled by train, was still swinging on the night of July 14, 1967. In the Houston Astros lineup after a trade from the only franchise he’d ever known, Mathews climbed to a summit only six other players in history had reached at that time: 500 home runs.
The blast at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park came off Juan Marichal and marked the first time a Hall of Fame hitter reached 500 against a Hall of Fame pitcher. Mathews hung on through 1967 and landed with the World Series champion Detroit Tigers in 1968, finishing with 512 homers.
He’s an Astro in the 1967 Topps set but Eddie Mathews baseball cards begin with the arrival of Topps in 1952. Months after making his debut with the Boston Braves, Mathews was put into the final series of the company’s debut issue as card #407. Today, while not as valuable as the iconic Mickey Mantle card, Mathews sells for a pretty penny. In November of 2013, a PSA 8 reached $41,825. A few low-grade examples are on eBay now but even those reach four figures. A PSA 3.5 sold for $2,868 recently.
Mathews traveled to Milwaukee with the Braves in 1953 but is still shown with a Boston cap on both the Topps and Bowman sets that year. Both issues provide a nice, quality early career image at a much lower price point than the ’52. Quality mid-range Topps examples can be had for $90-150. A PSA 8 is for sale now at $525. The Bowman card is a bit more expensive with near mint examples starting at around $400.
One of Mathews’ nicest cards is the 1954 Topps issue. You can find a very solid EX/NM example for around $100 or even less.
As the only player to have seen action for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta, Mathews shows up in the 1966 Topps set, the team’s first south of the Mason-Dixon line. Topps chose to airbrush the “M” off his cap, a fact that had to sting young Wisconsin collectors who opened packs that spring.
You can see the current ‘most watched’ Mathews cards on eBay right now via the live list below.