St. Patrick’s Day Green Cards

Celebrate the Day With These Cards

Date: Mar 15, 2024
Author: Michael Salfino
Topics: 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait, Cincinnati, Green Cards, Hank Aaron, Joe Namath, Michael Salfino, MLB, New York, New York Yankees, Roberto Clemente, St. Patrick's Day, Yankees, Yogi Berra
Length: 812 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with color, as is tradition, with some iconic green cards, new and old. And we’ll also add a Greene one.

Why is green even a thing on the Irish holiday? Well, Ireland is an island with leafy trees and grass hills, sometimes called the Emerald Isle. But that’s not the reason. In fact, St. Patrick’s color of choice was blue. It wasn’t until over 1,000 years after his death that green became the color of nationalists who no longer wanted to be controlled by Britain. It was introduced into the holiday’s festivities in the 18th century when the green shamrock became a national symbol.

1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait

Baseball cards were first prized in the early 20th century because of their color. The famous T206 set was printed using a six-color lithograph process (green was the fifth stage of the process). This stage brought out the green grass and blue skies that served as the background for many cards. The color is prominent in many portraits, including the most valuable, Ty Cobb (about $8,000 in “good” condition).

Here are some notable cards of the Topps era that fit into the holiday color palette. Let’s look at them in order, including one card that best captures the holiday spirit and is not cost-prohibitive.

Top Topps Cards to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

1954 Topps Baseball #50 Yogi Berra

It is the most colorful card of one of the most colorful players in MLB history. In 1954, the background of the cards of Yankees players was not all green. Berra’s really pops, and it’s also an MVP card. Yogi won the AL Award that year with a career-high 125 RBI (one of five catchers ever to hit that mark) and nearly twice as many walks as Ks. In mid-grade (EX) condition, graded, it costs about $200.

1955 Topps Baseball #164 Roberto Clemente RC

Here’s a true rookie card: Clemente had not yet played in MLB when it was first ripped open in a pack. Ironically, given the history of St. Patrick, Clemente almost wore Dodgers blue as Brooklyn tried to hide him from the Pirates in the Rule 5 draft (to no avail). In “good” condition (PSA 3), this card sells for about $1,500.

1958 Topps Baseball #30 Hank Aaron

This green beauty comes with white lettering and the more rare yellow lettering. That year, the team background colors were again various shades, but none are more green than Aaron’s. In 1958, Aaron defended his NL MVP Award by hitting .326 with an on-base plus slugging 53% above league average (career: 55% better). The more common version can be found crease-free for about $200.

1968 Topps Football #65 Joe Namath

The greenest of Broadway Joe’s cards and the year that Namath and the Jets shocked the NFL by winning the Super Bowl as 18-point underdogs, spurred on by Namath’s pregame “guarantee,” the most famous sports history. This card is about $200 in near-mint condition but carries a premium like all cards of the era for good centering.

1970 Topps Basketball #123 Pete Maravich

Here’s arguably the most famous and desired green card in the hoops catalog. It’s another “true rookie,” meaning Pistol Pete had not yet displayed his wizardry on a pro court.

1971 Topps Baseball #258 Dick Green

I’ve included this card for the name Green, but more for the color of those great old Athletics uniforms. Originating when the team was in Kansas City, eccentric owner Charles Finley needed MLB permission to clad his squad in green and gold. Home teams then, by rule, were supposed to wear white, and road teams gray. This Green card is about $30 in graded, near-mint condition, mainly due to the 1971 set’s condition-sensitive black borders.

1975 Topps Baseball # George Brett RC

It’s rare for a rookie card of that era also to be a player’s base/solo card, but that’s the case for Brett, who shocked the baseball world by playing extensively in 1974 (at age 21). In near-mint condition, graded, this Hall of Famer’s rookie card is about $300.

2016 Bowman Chrome Green Refractor #CPA-JA Juan Soto Auto /99

There were only 99 cards manufactured in this color. Anyone who pulled it hit the jackpot, given that Juan Soto has become one of the most accomplished hitters for his age in MLB history.

2022 Bowman Chrome Green Shimmer #BCP50 Elly De La Cruz /99

There are no more toolsy players in the MLB than Elly De La Cruz, whose electrifying path to superstardom continues this season.

Bonus Greene Card

1971 Topps Football #241 Joe Greene RC

1971 Joe Greene: Football has a Greene, too: Mean Joe. But this card for St. Paddy’s is just about the name, not the color (though also the color of the name). It’s his rookie card, despite Greene coming into the NFL in 1969. The card of the Hall of Famer and cultural icon (for his famous Coke commercial) costs about $400 in near-mint, graded condition.

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