George Brett Rookie Card Market Guide

Posted on 1/12/2023

Interested in collecting George Brett rookie cards? Find out about their current market values and discover how grading can enhance the quality of your cards.

Considered by many to be the greatest third baseman in MLB history, George Brett played a remarkable 21 seasons with the Kansas City Royals. The MLB legend was one of the most popular players in the league from the time of his pro debut in 1973 to his retirement in 1993. Brett's Hall of Fame career also helped his sports cards remain popular among collectors through the years. Here's a guide for those that are looking to collect or invest in George Brett rookie cards.

George Brett's Iconic MLB Career

In 1971, just after graduating high school, George Brett was drafted by the Kansas City Royals. He entered pro baseball as a shortstop but was quickly transferred to third base, where his powerful arm made him a stellar defensive player. In 1973, he made his major league debut, playing 13 games that season. The following year, he became the team’sstarting third baseman.

By 1975, Brett passed the .300 mark with a batting average of .308 as he led the American League in hits and triples. In May of 1976, he recorded three or more hits in six successive games, breaking an MLB record. Brett made the cover of Sports Illustrated and was chosen for the first of his 13 All-Star teams. He also helped lead the Royals to the first of three consecutive American League West titles and finished the year with a .333 batting average, winning his first AL batting title.

In 1979, Brett became only the sixth player in MLB history to hit at least 20 doubles, triples and home runs in a single season, recording 42 doubles, 20 triples and 23 homers. He finished the season with a .329 batting average and an on-base percentage of .376.

Brett had one of his greatest seasons in 1980, finishing the year with a .390 batting average. He helped lead the Royals to their first AL pennant and was named the American League MVP, the first and only Royals player to win that honor.

During the 1983 regular season, Brett became embroiled in one of baseball's most notorious (and, to many fans, entertaining) altercations. Known as the “Pine Tar Incident,” it started after Brett hit a two-run homer off Yankees pitcher Goose Gossage, giving the Royals a 5-4 lead. Yankees manager Billy Martin notified the umpires that Brett had about 24 inches of pine tar (a legal compound used to improve the batter’s grip) on his bat. Since the MLB limit was 18 inches, home plate umpire Tim McClelland disqualified the runs and gave the Yankees the win.

Brett was enraged at the decision and had to be physically restrained when he charged out of the dugout toward McClelland. The Royals appealed the ruling, and Lee MacPhail, the American League president, upheld their appeal. More than three weeks later, the Royals were allowed to play the rest of the game against the Yankees, ending with a win for the Royals.

In 1985, Brett was named MVP of the 1985 playoffs and led the Royals to the World Series, winning in Game 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He finished the season with a .335 batting average, 30 home runs and 112 RBIs. Five years later, in 1990, he won his third AL batting title with a .329 average, making him theonly MLB player to win the league batting title in three decades.

After playing for 21 seasons with the Royals, Brett retired after the 1993 season. He finished his career with 665 doubles, 137 triples, 317 home runs and 1,596 RBIs. He’s also one of only five players in major league history to record at least 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and to have an overall .300 batting average or better for his career. In 1994, his No. 5 jersey number was retired by the Royals, and in 1999, Brett was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Are George Brett Rookie Cards Valuable and Do They Have Any Investment Potental?

George Brett played during an era when a player had only one, or possibly two, official rookie cards issued. For Brett, there’s only one official rookie card, which Topps didn’t release until 1975. In addition, there are two variations of this card and two rare “oddball” issues.

Thanks to Brett’s immense popularity as a player, his few available rookie cards typically trend for high prices, with some examples selling for five figures in top condition.

As a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest third basemen sluggers to ever play the game, Brett’s legendary status garners him an abundance of fans worldwide.

Coupled with that, his name will always be linked to the Pine Tar Incident, one of baseball’s most iconic moments. Because of these factors, prices remain high for George Brett rookie cards, and investment potential remains strong.

Top George Brett Rookie Cards

There’s only one official George Brett rookie card, which is available in three different versions. In addition, there’s also an early team portrait card, plus an oddball issue from SSPC. These are the cards to look for:

  • 1975 Topps #228 George Brett
  • 1975 Topps Mini #228 George Brett
  • 1975 O-Pee-Chee #228 George Brett
  • 1974 Kansas City Royals Postcard George Brett
  • 1975 SSPC #167 George Brett

Here’s how these George Brett rookie cards are trending on auction tracking sites like Sports Card Investor, PriceGuide.Cards and SportsCardsPro. These monitoring sites are updated daily, so be aware that prices can change anytime.

1975 Topps #228 George Brett ($77,620)

Considered to be George Brett’s "official" rookie card, this colorful gem was part of an iconic 1975 Topps set that included rookie cards for future Hall of Famers Gary Carter, Jim Rice and Robin Yount as well. It features a vibrant image of a youthful Brett on the field, in batting position, set against a green and purple background. "Royals" is printed on the top in large hot pink letters, and there’s a facsimile signature printed across the lower half.

Interestingly, this card has no borders, so the colors run right into the edges of the card. Because of this, it’s more difficult to find these cards in good condition without chipped edges and production flaws. This is one of the most sought-after baseball cards of the 1970s, so prices tend to be high when found in good condition.

SportsCardsPro shows Ungraded trending at $63, grade 7 at $283, grade 8 at $684 and grade 9 at $4,580. Grade 9.5 trends at $4,764, and Gem Mint 10 at $77,620.

At PriceGuide.Cards, Ungraded trends at an average price of $42, with a top price of $7,747. Graded trends at an average price of $233, with a top price of $41,400 (grades unspecified). 

Sports Card Investor shows prices for lower grades trending at around $158, with a top recent purchase on January 14, 2023 that sold for $4,500.

1975 Topps Mini #228 George Brett ($42,000)

This is another version of the Topps #228 but in miniature version. Measuring just 2¼" by 3⅛", these cards were issued in a set of 660 and were distributed in Michigan and throughout the West Coast.

SportsCardsPro shows Ungraded versions trending at $60, grade 7 at $256, grade 8 at $549 and grade 9 at $3,075. Grade 9.5 trends at $3,383 and Gem Mint 10 at $42,000.

At PriceGuide.Cards, Ungraded trends at an average price of $64 and a top price of $9,500. Graded trends at an average price of $277 and a top price of $23,650 (grades unspecified).

1975 O-Pee-Chee #228 George Brett ($10,033)

This Canadian version is almost identical to the Topps #228 card, except it’s printed on lower-quality cardstock. Also, the back is printed in both French and English, and a line in small print says “O.P.C. PTD. in Canada” at the bottom.

SportsCardsPro shows Ungraded trending at $114, grade 7 at $452, grade 8 at $1,553 and grade 9 at $3,480. Grade 9.5 trends at $3,828 and Gem Mint 10 at $10,033.

At PriceGuide.Cards, Ungraded trends at an average price of $92 and a top price of $562. Graded trends at an average price of $507 and a top price of $10,000 (grades unspecified).

Sports Card Investor shows prices trending for lower grades around $450, with a top price of $2,500 (Grade 9), which sold on November 27, 2020.

1974 Kansas City Royals Postcard George Brett ($3,720)

The earliest known card picturing Brett, this bit of history was produced as part of the official Royals team issue set, but wasn’t released to the mainstream public. It features a black-and-white portrait shot of a smiling Brett in uniform, framed by a simple white border.

In 2022, a grade 9 example of this card sold for $3,720 at Heritage Auctions.

1975 SSPC #167 George Brett ($1,299)

This unusual card features a portrait shot of Brett in batting position, framed in a simple white border. In fact, it does not include Brett's name, team name or any other information on the front of the card.

Although the copyright on the card is 1975, it wasn’t released until 1976. Because of this late release date, it’s not technically a Brett rookie card. However, many collectors consider it to be a rookie issue, and that makes it highly collectible.

At PriceGuide.Cards, Ungraded trends at an average price of $10, with a top price of $99. Graded trends at an average price of $39 and a top price of $1,299 (grades unspecified).

SportsCardsPro shows Ungraded trending at $20, grade 7 at $27, grade 8 at $33 and grade 9 at $45. Grade 9.5 trends at $89, and Gem Mint 10 at $158.

Where Can I Find George Brett Rookie Cards?

You can find George Brett rookie cards at sports card auctions, memorabilia shows and sports collectibles retailers. Here’s a list of some of the most popular online auction sites for sports cards and memorabilia:

Sports card shows provide another great source for George Brett rookie cards. You can find out about upcoming shows by checking local listings in your newspaper or visiting collecting forums and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

How Are George Brett Rookie Cards Graded?

Sports cards are graded according to an established numeric grading system ranging from Ungraded to a Perfect 10. Here's how it works:

Perfect 10:This card is graded Gem Mint across all four grading criteria: corners, surface, edges and centering. It's the absolute best a card can be and is flawless even under 10x magnification.

Gem Mint: Gem Mint cards are perfect, with sharp corners, vibrant coloring and no damage or stains.

Grade 9.5: Near-Mint condition, typically with just one minor flaw.

Grade 9: Excellent condition, with just a couple of minor flaws.

Grades 8 and below: These have condition damage or flaws, and are priced lower.

Raw or Ungraded: Raw cards have just been pulled from their packages and are new to the market. Ungraded cards haven't been through the grading process, and may or may not be new to the market.

Sports card prices and values are determined by condition, rarity and collector interest. Condition and rarity are easy to assess, but collector demand can change at a moment’s notice.

When players have a below-average season, shift their careers away from the spotlight or retire completely, their card values may plummet. This happens all too often, unless the player is in the Hall of Fame, is historically relevant or has a huge fan base or celebrity-level popularity.

Likewise, Gem Mint cards from less popular players may stagnate on the market, even if they’re rare. Auction bidding wars and record prices can also impact future sales, as can economic factors.

If sports cards are your hobby, it’s always a good idea to buy the cards you love and focus on finding examples in the best condition you can afford.

Should I Get My Cards Graded?

Professional grading can authenticate and certify the quality level of your sports cards. When cards are graded, an expert appraiser carefully examines each card for production flaws, wear and condition issues. Once these are identified, the grader assigns a quality grade to the card and enters the information into an international database as a permanent record.

Even if you don't plan on selling your cards, you'll have the satisfaction of having them individually certified, authenticated and registered in the grading company's international database. Collectors, buyers and dealers will often pay higher prices for a graded card because its quality and authenticity have been given an official stamp of approval. For this reason, graded cards usually sell for higher prices than ungraded ones.

With grading, your cards will have an established rating that will always be recognized by future generations of collectors, appraisers and industry professionals. Professional bodies like Certified Sports Guaranty (CSG) carry out grading and provide a certificate of authentication for each submitted card. Sellers should always have cards graded, and buyers should always check for proof of the condition before purchasing.

*Any mention of "investment potential" is for entertainment only and should not be construed as investment advice. The Certified Collectibles Group does not provide investment advice and is not liable for any buy, sell or trade decisions made by any parties.

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