The Mike Schmidt Rookie Cards and Other Vintage Cards
Mike Schmidt Rookie Cards
The 1973 Topps Rookie Third Basemen #615 card is the most popular of the Mike Schmidt rookie cards, but it’s certainly not the only one. Schmidt has a fantastic winter league card, a postcard that predates his Topps rookie, and a Canadian card that is much rarer but less valuable than his iconic Topps rookie. In this article I’ll walk through all of the Mike Schmidt rookies and a few of his other early cards.
1973 Topps Rookie Third Basemen #615
The 1973 Topps Rookie Third Basemen (card #615) is one of the most iconic cards of the 1970s. That is because Mike Schmidt is an all-time great who was elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. It also doesn’t hurt that this card also has 6-time All-Star Ron Cey, even though it isn’t Cey’s rookie card.
Mike Schmidt made his debut for the Phillies in 1972 after being drafted in the second round of the 1971 MLB armature draft. In 1974 he made his first of fourteen All-Star games by hitting 36 home runs and driving in 114 RBIs. During his 18-year career, he frequently finished high in the MVP voting and won the award three times. He finished his career with incredible offensive stats including 548 home runs and 1,595 RBIs. Schmidt is remembered for his offense, but he was an outstanding defensive player as well, demonstrated by his 10 Gold Glove awards.
Schmidt is one of the most decorated players in MLB history. He was named by Sporting News as the player of the decade for the 1980s, his uniform #20 was retired by the Phillies in 1990, and he was elected into the MLB Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility. Schmidt appeared on 96.52% of the ballots, which was the highest first-year showing at the time.
Any rookie card of a player with Schmidt’s accomplishments would be valuable, but some additional factors make this card one of the most sought-after by collectors.
- Positional Greatness: One way for a player to make his mark on the game is to be considered the best ever at his position. Although an argument can be made for Brooks Robinson or George Brett, most lists of the greatest 3rd basemen of all time have Mike Schmidt at the top. Simply being in this discussion elevates the collectability and value of a player’s cards, but being a near consensus pick among experts provides an extra boost.
- Three-time MVP: Winning an MVP award is one of the biggest honors in Major League Baseball. The list of players who won this honor in three different seasons is small and includes all-time greats like Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, and Joe DiMaggio. Mike Schmidt is a member of this elite club and that ensures he will always be considered one of the best players of all time.
- Advanced Analytics: Due to the rise of sabermetrics and advanced analytics, we are more capable of identifying great players than ever before. Modern analytics show that some players were overrated while others never got the attention they deserved. Mike Schmidt was already considered an all-time great, but his lifetime WAR (wins over replacement) score of 106.9 guarantees he will continue to be considered one of the best players ever even when his career is viewed through a modern lens.
1973 Topps Baseball Set Details
The 1973 Topps set was a unique offering from Topps. It only included 660 cards, which made it the smallest Topps set of the 1970s and is 127 fewer cards than in 1972. It was the final set Topps released in series, so after 1973 there are no more “high number” cards. The Mike Schmidt rookie card (#615) is the most valuable card in the set, but it also contains the rookie card for Hall of Famer Rich “Goose” Gossage (#174). In addition to these two Hall of Famers, it also has rookie cards for All-Stars Buddy Bell (#31), Dwight Evans (#614), and Gary Matthews (#606).
- Year: 1973
- Manufacturer: Topps
- Number of Cards: 660
- Card size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ (standard size)
- League Leaders (#61-68)
- Playoff / World Series Highlights (#201-210)
- Boyhood Photos of the Stars (#341-346)
- All-Time Leaders subset (#471-478)
- Rookie Stars (#601-616)
1973 Rookie Third Basemen card #615 Details
- Card no: #615 of 660
- Names on front: Mike Schmidt
- Name on Back: Michael Jack Schmidt
- Position: Third Baseman
- Team: Dayton, Ohio
- Home: Dayton, Ohio
- Born: 09-27-49
- Height: 6′ 2″
- Weight: 195 lb
- Bats: Right
- Throws: Right
Note: The card also has Ron Cey and John Hilton, but I’m not including their card info in this article.
Front of the card
Design: The front of the 1973 Rookie Third Basemen (#615) has a simple design, which is consistent with the feel of this set. It has a horizontal design with a white background. “1973 Rookie Third Basemen” appears at the top in blue text. Photos of the three players, Ron Cey, Dave Hilton (John Hilton on this card), and Mike Schmidt take up the middle of the card, each surrounded by a bold black border. Below each photo is the name and team of each player.
A few words on Cey and Hinton
This article is about Mike Schmidt, but I briefly touch on the careers of the other two players featured on this card.
As noted above, this is not Ron Cey’s rookie card because he appeared on a card in the 1972 Topps set. Cey was a major star during the 1970s and 1980s. He was the MVP of the 1981 World Series and was named to the All-Star team six times. That number would have surely been higher had Mike Schmidt not been in the National League with him.
John Hilton went by “Dave” during his career and played sparingly for the Padres for four seasons before retiring.
Shop for a 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie card #615 on eBay (affiliate link),
Back of the card
Design: The back of the 1973 Rookie Third Basemen (#615) card has a vertical layout and is primarily black and yellow. The border of the card is black and the card title is at the top in white. Below the title is the card number inside a baseball graphic and a large yellow rectangle separated by bold black lines into three sections. Each section has the biographical information for one of the three players pictured on the front of the card.
1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie Card Value
The Mike Schmidt rookie card is one of the most valuable baseball cards made in the 1970s. The chart below was pulled from the popular card grading site PSA on 01/08/2022. It shows prices for the Mike Schmidt rookie card in various conditions.
Keep in mind that prices fluctuate. While PSA is a great way to find out the value of a card, we recommend going to eBay to see what cards are currently selling for on the world’s most popular auction site. Click here to view current auctions for the 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie card #615.
Other Relevant Mike Schmidt Rookie Cards
The 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt #615 is the most valuable Mike Schmidt card, but there are a lot of other Mike Schmidt rookies in existence. The Bowman card is nearly as iconic and may have a better claim to being his “true” rookie. There also are several oddball Schmidt cards from 1973 to consider.
1972 Puerto Rican Winter League Sticker #64
I don’t consider this a rookie because it’s not an MLB card, but this is one of the coolest Mike Schmidt collectibles ever made. During this era some players would play professional baseball in counties with warmer climates like Puerto Rico or Venezuela. Mike Schmidt played multiple seasons in Puerto Rico and he was compensated as little as $900 per month for his service. Players who went this route typically did it for extra repetitions and not for the money.
Shop for a 1972 Puerto Rican Winter League Sticker Mike Schmidt on eBay (affiliate link)
1972 O-Pee-Chee Rookie Third Basemen #615
The 1972 O-Pee-Chee Rookie Third Basemen #615 card is the Canadian version of the Topps card. Aside from the title appearing in both English and French on the back and the copyright, there isn’t much visually different about this card. The O-Pee-Chee sets from this era were produced in lower numbers than the Topps and often suffered from cutting issues that make it very hard to find high-grade cards. Interestingly, this card sells for less than the Topps version even though it is considerably rarer.
Shop for a 1973 O-Pee-Chee Mike Schmidt on eBay (affiliate link)
1972 Philadelphia Phillies Postcards Mike Schmidt (no number)
The 1972 Philadelphia Phillies team-issued postcard of Mike Schmidt is the first Mike Schmidt card featuring him as a Major League player. This isn’t a trading card because it was intended to be mailed, but that hasn’t stopped trading card collectors from collecting them. I didn’t include a photo of the back since it’s completely blank. These are very rare and valuable, so be prepared for a lengthy search and a steep price if you choose to add one of these to your collection.
Shop for a 1972 Philadelphia Phillies Postcard Mike Schmidt on eBay (rare) (affiliate link)
1973 Philadelphia Phillies Postcards Mike Schmidt (no number)
I didn’t want to talk about the 1972 team-issued Mike Schmidt postcard without touching on the 1973 version, because there might be some confusion here. I’ve seen this labeled a rookie because it was issued the same year as his widely-accepted Topps rookie. However, while I accept other 1973 issues to be Schmidt rookies, I don’t like that designation for this one because of the existence of the 1972 version. It’s still a great early Mike Schmidt collectible, and – like the 1972 version – it is rare.
Shop for a 1973 Philadelphia Phillies Postcard Mike Schmidt on eBay (rare) (affiliate link)
1973-74 Linnett Portraits Mike Schmidt (no number)
Linnett Portraits are prints of illustrations by Charles Linnett that were produced and distributed during the 1970s. They are 8.5″ x 11″ and although there were hundreds of players issued, it can be pretty tough to find a specific individual. Even though these are from the 1973-74 set the Schmidt portrait came out a good deal after his 1973 issues and is more fit to be framed than graded. For those reasons I wouldn’t consider this a rookie, but it is a rare and valuable early Mike Schmidt collectible.
Shop for the 1973-74 Linnett Portraits Mike Schmidt on eBay (rare) (affiliate link)
Mike Schmidt’s Legacy
Mike Schmidt is regarded by many historians as the greatest 3rd baseman in MLB history and is always counted among the top few. He played his entire 18-year career for the Philadelphia Phillies during which time he won three National League MVP awards and led them to win the 1980 World Series. Schmidt established himself as one of the greatest power hitters in MLB history by hitting 548 home runs and knocking in more than 1,500 runs.
Throughout his career he was a fixture on All-Star teams and regularly led the league in offensive categories including home runs, slugging percentage, and RBIs. He was also a defensive wizard who racked up 10 Gold Glove awards at 3rd base. After his playing career concluded he was honored by the Phillies organization when they retired his uniform number 20. Schmidt was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995 in his first year of eligibility.
Here’s a list of some of Mike Schmidt’s accomplishments:
- 1 time National League Batting Average leader (1981)
- 3 time National League On-Base Percentage leader (1981, 1982, 1983)
- 5 time National League Slugging Percentage leader (1974, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1986)
- 1 time National League Runs Scored leader (1981)
- 3 time National League Total Bases leader (1976, 1980, 1981)
- 1 time National League Times on Base leader (1981)
- 2 time National League Win Above Replacement (WAR) leader (1974, 1981)
- 4 time National League Runs Batted In leader (1980, 1981, 1984, 1986)
- 5 time National League Extra Base Hits leader (1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1986)
- 9 time National League Home Runs leader
- 6 time National League Silver Slugger winner
- 10 time National League Gold Glove winner
- 12 time All-Star
- World Series MVP (1980)
- 3 time MVP (1980, 1982, 1986)
- #20 retired by Philadelphia Phillies in his honor
- Inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1995
Get Your Mike Schmidt Rookie
Do you want to own a 1973 Topps Mike Schmidt Rookie (#615)? If so, we recommend starting your search on eBay – the world’s #1 card trading place. Even if you’re not planning to buy one just yet, it’s fun to look at all the great cards currently for sale.
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All About Mike Schmidt Rookie Cards Infographic
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