A tough, hard-nosed competitor on the field and an equally soft touch off it, linebacker Ray Nitschke enjoyed a 15-year playing career with the Green Bay Packers. A third round pick in 1957, he joined the Packers out of the University of Illinois and became one of the key members of Vince Lombardi’s 1960s juggernaut.
While his Topps cards are highly desired by fans, the Hall of Famer has several rare collectibles that were released in the 1960s as well. Here are five of them.
Nitschke’s rookie card is considered to be his 1963 Topps edition. But he actually appeared on a card two years earlier when Lake-to-Lake Dairy of Wisconsin created a 36-card set of Packers. Nitschke is one of the single prints in the set and as such, a little hard to find at a low price. Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for a nicer example.
Ray Nitschke 1969 Drenk’s Pins
Mrs. Drenk’s was a popular brand of potato chips. In 1969, the company produced a series of pins featuring Packers players. Most of the pins were printed with a green border but a rarer red version also exists.
While somewhat rare, the pins can be found for as little as $10-$20 on eBay when offered as straight auctions.
In 1966, Williams Advertising company produced a set of portraits featuring the Green Bay Packers. They also created sets for all NFL teams in 1967. The pictures were approximately 8″ x 10″ in size and lithograph portrait prints of the players.
Nitschke is in the set of 30 photographs and one of the most desirable. The set was called ‘Packer Portraits’ and honored the team that had just won the championship after the 1966 season. Photos were sold in packs of five for only $.79. Today, the Nitschke photo can be had for around $20-$30.
Ray Nitschke 1965 Sprite Bottle Cap
Sprite offered a unique set of collectibles in 1965 with special bottle caps on their products. The caps featured professional football players on the reverse, revealed after the bottle was opened. Nitschke was among the players featured and, fortunately for fans, the collectibles are inexpensive. Many caps in the set can be purchased for only a few dollars and even the bigger names such as Nitschke aren’t much more than $5 or $10.
Ray Nitschke 1960s Pin
While the other issues mentioned here are a little more known, one Nitschke collectible has more questions surrounding it. The exact date of the pin isn’t known but is believed to be a 1960s issue. The unique pin is yellow with green ink and features a black and white picture of Nitschke. In addition to including a yellow ribbon, a “We Love Ray” is printed as well as his #66.
The manufacturer of the pins isn’t confirmed but they pop up in auctions from time to time, selling in the $10-$20 range.