Topps decided to cash in with major-league baseball’s stars of 1962, putting out a test issue called Baseball Bucks.
They were issued in their own one-cent package — imagine that, you could get a buck for a penny in 1962 — and measured 4 1/8 inches wide by 1¾ inches high. They looked like actual legal tender but only smaller, printed with black ink on green paper.
1962 Topps Baseball Bucks Basics
Topps issued 96 different Baseball Bucks, with players represented in the $1, $5 and $10 denominations. Because of their width, many of the Baseball Bucks were folded when inserted into packs, normally two-thirds of the way across the width of the card with the crease on the right-hand side.
Instead of Washington, Lincoln and Hamilton, Topps’ Baseball Bucks featured current stars. Sixty-two players appeared on the “dollar bill,” while 24 were earmarked for the $5 and 10 for the $10. To the player’s right is a sketch of their home ballpark, while a fun fact sits to the left of the portrait. The player’s name is beneath his portrait.
Hall of Fame Faces
There are at least 22 future Hall of Famers in the set, and the players pictured on the $10 bills are who you might expect: Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks and Whitey Ford. Outside of Cooperstown, Roger Maris, coming off his 61-homer season, is also on the 10-spot; so is Cardinals third baseman Ken Boyer.
Hindsight is 20/20, but if you had to elevate a few other players to $10 status, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente (listed as Bob) would head the list, along with Sandy Koufax. But hey, everyone can’t be top dollar.
It’s not easy to find ’62 Baseball Bucks in high grade. A total of 2,273 have been submitted to PSA for grading. Of that number, only five have graded as gem mint: Jim Gentile, Woodie Held, Nellie Fox (an unfolded version) Koufax (also unfolded) and Stu Miller. There are 131 PSA 9 versions.
The key Bucks in the set are those of Mantle, Mays and Clemente. There have been 85 of Mantle’s bills graded by PSA, with just seven reaching 8 and none higher. Mays fares a little better, with 41 submitted for grading and five coming back as high as PSA 9. There also are four unfolded versions that have been graded, with one coming in at PSA 9. There are folded (67) and unfolded (5) graded versions of Clemente. For the folded bills, the highest grade is PSA 8, assigned to 16 submissions. There are two unfolded bills that grade a PSA 9.
There have been 31 bills submitted to SGC for grading. Only one bill (Al Kaline) grades as high as SGC 84, while two have been graded at SGC 80 (Kaline and Carl Yastrzemski).
There are usually a few hundred graded and ungraded Baseball Bucks on eBay, with many of them at a reasonable price (click here to see them). Graded superstars will cost more, but in general the bills are not hard to find without hurting your wallet.