1958 was a landmark year for Major League Baseball. In the eight decades since the formation of the National League, St. Louis was as far west as the game was played, but with the Dodgers and Giants relocating to California that had all changed. Millions of fans on the west coast could now attend live games, rather than listening to syndicated broadcasts on the radio or grainy telecasts on the relatively new invention of television. Not only were new markets opened for baseball, but they were also opened for card manufacturer Topps as well. In 1958, now three years removed from their rivalry with Bowman and one year after adopting the card size that would become the industry standard still in use today, Topps offered a set that offers a major challenge for collectors who want higher grade cards.
The key to the 1958 Topps Baseball set is the rookie card of Roger Maris, pictured with the Cleveland Indians, three years before his history making season where he would break Babe Ruth’s legendary home run record by clubbing 61. Although not a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Maris is nevertheless heavily collected and PSA 8 copies of his rookie can sell for in excess of $1,000.
Despite being issued in the era that produced some of the greatest stars in the game’s history, 1958 Topps features only one Hall of Fame rookie card: Orlando Cepeda. Cepeda was a memorable teammate of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey in the great Giants teams of the 1960s, and his ’58 Topps issue routinely sells for about $300 in NM-MT condition. Another rookie worth noting is that of St. Louis Cardinals great Curt Flood, whose off the field contributions to labor relations have made him an important figure in the game’s history.
Following Cepeda there are a total of 31 Hall of Famers in the 1958 Topps set. Among them are Yankees icon Mickey Mantle, who by now was regarded as the best player in baseball and had the grand stage of New York all to himself. A well centered copy of Mantle’s 1958 Topps card graded ‘8’ by PSA recently sold for almost $4,000. Lower grade examples still run into the hundreds.
Other notable players in the set include Ted Williams (once again the first card in the set), Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente (identified as ‘Bob’ for the sake of the primarily English speaking consumers), and Hank Aaron. A popular card features Aaron and Mantle from the ’57 World Series that sells for between $800 and $1,000 in PSA 8.
1958 would be the first year that Topps would introduce All-Star cards and as a result Stan Musial made his return to a mainstream issue for the first time since 1953 Bowman Color. The series was sponsored by SPORT Magazine, which likely hopped on board in hopes kids would use part of their allowance on the monthly issue. It is believed that the All-Star cards of Mantle and Musial were triple printed to increase popularity with the year’s final series, issued during a time of year when the baseball season was ending and football was beginning. The Musial All-Star card sells for under $200 (and sometimes below $100) in PSA 8, while Mantle’s All-Star sells for $200-$400 in the same grade.
There are several variations in 1958 Topps worth noting. In series one (cards #1-110), several cards were issued with yellow team names that sell for a premium, including Al Kaline. The team checklist cards for the Braves, Orioles, Reds, and Tigers feature a variation with a numerical checklist that sell higher than the more common alphabetical version. Finally, card #433 featuring Pancho Herrera was originally issued as ‘Pancho Herrer’ that can be quite difficult to obtain. There are also some background color variations.
The basic 1958 set is listed at 495 cards, but card #145 was not issued. The card was originally supposed to feature Ed Bouchee, but it is alleged his off the field issues resulted in Topps pulling the card from production. A master set – which includes the aforementioned variations and errors – is considered complete with a total of 534 cards. Mid-grade sets usually sell for $1500-2000 with EX-NM quality sets bringing $2800-3500, depending largely on the quality of the major star cards.
Out of focus cards, poor centering and paper quality that didn’t seem to hold up well have caused myriad problems for collectors of high grade sets and NM/MT 1958 Topps cards are highly sought after. Once among the least popular sets of the 1950’s, the respect for those higher grade examples has grown.
With a large number of legends, all-stars and variations, 1958 Topps makes for a challenging – but worthwhile – set to build. Check out what’s available on eBay here.