Baseball card collecting is one of the most successful and lucrative avenues of the sports memorabilia market and has endeared itself in the hearts of several generations of Americans.
After struggling for much of the 21st century. The baseball card industry has made a huge comeback in recent years as individuals of all ages are renewing their childhood memories of collecting and trading cards with their friends.
A former MLB great that has been gaining popularity in recent years is Ozzie Smith. Arguably the best defensive shortstop in baseball history. Smith played from 1978 to 1996 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002. Below are the 11 most collectible Ozzie Smith baseball cards in the market today.
11. 1982 Kellogg’s 3D Series Ozzie Smith, Card #6
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $10
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $3.50
Although not a traditional sports card (see also “Best Magnifying Glass For Sports Cards“). Kellogg’s 3D Series was a series of miniature 3D cards that Kellogg’s featured throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.
The cards were distributed as free giveaways in cereal boxes during the summer months. They were a huge hit with children all across the United States.
Some of the most famous 3D giveaways included Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente, as Kellogg’s sought to feature the best stars around Major League Baseball.
The Ozzie Smith 3D Series card is certainly not the most lucrative sports card featuring his likeness. But it is a nostalgic reminder to a generation of Americans. Who fondly remember waiting to open their cereal box to see what star player they would receive next.
This card is one of the last to feature Smith. Wearing the classic brown, yellow, and orange San Diego Padres uniforms.
10. 1981 Topps Ozzie Smith, Card #254
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $35
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $15
As with the vast majority of baseball cards. The earlier in the career of the player that the card is portraying, the more valuable the card. The 1981 Topps #254 Ozzie Smith card is something of exception. Featuring Smith after just his 3rd professional season it won’t break the bank.
Smith would win the first of his 13 gold glove awards during the 1980 season. As he would begin to showcase (see also “Jim Bunning: Player Showcase“) the otherworldly defensive prowess that would catapult him to the hall of fame.
While this card may not be as prestigious as some of the other well-known Ozzie Smith cards. It is still a good addition to any baseball card collector.
9. 1993 Topps Finest Base Ozzie Smith, Card #28
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $37.50
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $16.50
The 1993 Topps Finest series was one of the most groundbreaking achievements of the 1990s. Especially with the introduction of the refractor parallel card. Ozzie Smith was included in the initial Finest set. And he is a highly coveted card along with the rest of the players included in the series.
If you are lucky enough to own the Topps Finest Refractor version of this card in good condition then you would be looking at about $1500 for a PSA 9 Mint.
Being able to add this card to a collection in great condition would be a worthy goal for any collector. Less than 10% of these cards in the PSA population are confirmed as being in a PSA 10 condition.
8. 1982 Topps Traded Ozzie Smith, Card #109T
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $50
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $22.50
Starting in 1981, Topps began to include an updated set of cards to reflect trades and transactions around the league. These were known as Topps Traded. Continuing this set in 1982, the famous card in this series was the Cal Ripken Jr. card. Which ended up being one of the most valuable baseball cards of the 1980s.
The Ozzie Smith Topps Traded card is probably the 2nd most sought-after card of the series. And is one of the most popular Smith cards ever produced.
It is the first card to feature Smith with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he would spend the rest of his career from 1982 to 1996.
7. 1981 Donruss Ozzie Smith, Card #1
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $62.50
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $28.50
For most of the 1970s, Topps dominated the sports card market, with few other companies daring to challenge its supremacy. Donruss, originally a candy manufacturing company founded in 1954, eventually morphed into a sport-card producing conglomerate.
Donruss produced its first complete baseball set in 1981 and honored Ozzie Smith with the #1 card.
The historical nature of the inaugural Donruss baseball set greatly enhances the value of the #1 Ozzie Smith card. Which features him in his early playing days with the San Diego Padres before he became a household name across the league.
Donruss, who were founded in 1954 are no longer an independent card manufacturer. They were bought by the Panini Group in 2009.
6. 1980 Topps Ozzie Smith, Card #393
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $65
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $30
The 1980 Topps Ozzie Smith #393 card is one of the most underrated and underappreciated Smith cards available. Many other Smith cards such as his rookie cards, the Topps Traded card, or even common cards from later eras get more attention than this card.
It features Smith after his 2nd season in professional baseball with the Padres before most analysts around baseball considered him a major talent. Few could have predicted the meteoric rise to stardom that Smith would have just a few years down the road as his defense would become a thing of legend.
5. 1982 O-Pee-Chee Ozzie Smith, Card #95
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $200
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $80
Like Donruss, O-Pee-Chee was a candy manufacturing company that began to produce sports cards. Founded in Canada in 1911, O-Pee-Chee began to produce sports cards as early as the 1930s. Long before the existence of many of the sports memorabilia companies we know today.
Because O-Pee-Chee cards are much rarer than Topps cards. They are often more valuable and are highly sought after by many sports collectors. As a result, the 1982 O-Pee-Chee Ozzie Smith #95 card is one of the most expensive non-rookie Smith cards available. Far outvaluing its Topps counterpart.
4. 1979 Hostess Rookie Card Ozzie Smith, Card #102
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $700 upwards
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $400
From 1975 to 1979, the food company Hostess began to offer sports cards with its food products in the form of 3-card panels.
Each card in the 3-card panel was outlined with dashes, which were the border of the card. While the customers could keep the display intact. It was expected that individuals would most likely prefer to cut out each card, creating separate sports cards.
As a result, finding Hostess cards in good condition is almost impossible. Which has increased the collectability value of these sets. The Ozzie Smith rookie card included in the final Hostess set in 1979 is his least valuable rookie card. But still far outpaces nearly every other non-rookie Smith baseball card in value.
3. 1978 Family Fun Rookie Card Ozzie Smith, Card #1
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $1,200
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $250
Contrary to popular opinion, the first Ozzie Smith rookie card was not produced in 1979 by Topps. But in 1978 by the San Deigo Padres. The Padres issued several individual sports cards as a promotional event in the summer of 1978, known as Family Fun Centers, including one of Ozzie Smith.
It is the first baseball card ever made featuring Smith and is a highly sought-after piece of memorabilia. Because it was issued as a part of a promotional sweepstake, very few high-grade conditioned cards are available in circulation.
The card is set in a postcard style format, reminiscent of the 1962 Topps set, with a wood border. The Padres would go on to issue similar sets in 1979, 1980, and 1981. But would never produce another card on par with quite the overall value of the Ozzie Smith card.
2. 1979 O-Pee-Chee Rookie Card Ozzie Smith, Card #52
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $2000
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $300
Primarily circulated in the Canadian market, O-Pee-Chee’s Ozzie Smith rookie card is the 2nd most valuable Smith card available today (see also “Most Valuable Aaron Judge Rookie Card“). It is not as valued as its rival Topps counterpart rookie card of Smith, despite it being rarer.
The text on the back of the card is written in both French and English, which identifies it with the O-Pee-Chee brand. It also possesses the signature O-Pee-Chee baseball located on the bottom left of the card’s front.
Overall, the quality of O-Pee-Chee cards lagged behind that of Topps. And as a result, finding this rookie card in top condition is almost impossible.
There are a few PSA 8 and 9 (OC) on the market currently. For an OC card (off center) expect to pay approximately 2 grades lower. So a PSA 9 (OC) would typically sell for the price of a PSA 7.
1. 1979 Topps Rookie Card Ozzie Smith, Card #116
Approximate PSA 9 Value – $4,250
Approximate PSA 8 Value – $550
The most valuable and collectible Ozzie Smith card is the 1979 Topps #116 rookie card. By far the most valuable card of the entire 1979 Topps set.
It is arguably the most legendary rookie card from the 1970s. Featuring Smith’s lambchop sideburns and mustache, along with the classic polyester Padres uniform.
Oddly, the card contains a hilariously vague trivia question on the back reading “What happened on May 17, 1932?”.
It is almost impossible to find a well-centered version of this card. And finding this card in a PSA 9 or higher quality is very difficult as well. This is driving the price of this card up and up. My prediction is that this card is likely to be a very good long term hold.