This is a “high boy” that you don’t need to open.
A 1970 Topps Pete Maravich “tall boy” rookie card — a perfect, gem-mint 10 from card grader PSA — sold through PWCC Marketplace on Thursday night for $552,000, a record for anything “Pistol Pete”, sports cards or memorabilia.
The card is one of only two copies of the 1970 Topps Maravich card to receive a perfect grade from the PSA.
The Maravich card became the fifth most expensive vintage (pre-1980) basketball card behind a 1948 Bowman George Mikan rookie card ($800,000 on eBay), a 1961 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain rookie card ($670,000, private PWCC sale) and two Bill Russell rookie cards ($660,000 and $630,000, via PWCC and Heritage Auctions, respectively).
The Maravich card from the most sought-after set is the most expensive 1970 Topps basketball card of all time.
Topps used to make “tall boy” cards — cards that were the same 2 1/2 inches wide, but 4 11/16 inches tall as opposed to the standard 3 1/2 inches — in hockey and football, but the design didn’t make its way into basketball until 1969, when Topps produced basketball cards for the first time in more than a decade.
The 1970 Topps set had the same “tall boy” design.
Because of their unusual size, storing and maintaining high-grade “tall boy” cards has proven challenging. PSA graded a total of 128,783 Topps cards from 1969 and 1970, and only 278 of those returned were graded a perfect 10 – a 0.216% success rate.
Along with the Maravich card, six other PSA 10 “tall boy” cards from 1969 were purchased Thursday for player record prices: a Walt Frazier rookie card ($252,000), a Willis Reed rookie card ( $150,000), a Nate Thurmond rookie card ($114,000), a Wes Unseld rookie card ($111,000) and non-rookie cards of Oscar Robertson ($186,000) and Jerry West ($180,000).
In the last three months, according to PWCC, 34 records were set by the purchase of 1969 and 1970 Topps “tall boy” cards.