When I Realized Sports Cards Were Back In A Major Way!
Periodically throughout my lifetime, I have checked on the value of my sports cards. I would use my 1983 Topps Tony Gwynn rookie card as my litmus test, to gauge the market. As each year passed, it seemed that cards lost more and more value.
If I remember correctly, that card reached a high of $130 in the late 80’s. His rookie card, along with Cal Ripken Jr., Wade Boggs, and Don Mattingly, made the era I collected in seem like I was sitting on a goldmine!
However cards plummeted in value after the “junk wax” era, so even those select rookie cards were only worth about $8 through the early 2000’s.
Every few years, when I would see my cards in my closet, I would look online and check their price. Each time, the card would be about the same.
Then, after my boy asked me if he could sell the cards, I checked on my Tony Gwynn rookie card. To my absolute shock, I saw the card selling for $1,350 on Ebay! I thought it was a mistake. How is this possible?
The thing was, the card was graded a PSA 10. I thought a PSA 10 was equivalent to mint condition raw, or ungraded. Little did I know that centering, surface condition, edges and corners are all a part of this score, and that the naked eye cannot tell the difference between an 8 and a 10. I used to think that a card fresh out of a pack was a 10. But it’s far from it. I also understood what a grading scale was but I didn’t know what the difference was between PSA, BGS, SCG, and other companies. I just thought if a PSA 10 was worth $1,350, then my card, which was in good shape, would be worth at least 25% of that number. Nope. I’ve learned so much since that moment. A huge lesson I learned was that it doesn’t matter what someone prices the card for, it’s how much it has sold for that determines the value. You use the “sold” filter on Ebay to do that. You can also use 130point.com.
Not long after that moment, in August of 2020, over the sports wire came the title, “Mike Trout rookie card sells for a whopping $3.93 million at auction”.
Needless to say, it grabbed my attention! This was the most ever for a sports card and the player is still active. I would have thought it would have been a Hall of Famer to sell for that much, not a current player.
My mind began to race. If Mike Trout is worth that much, then what is a Barry Bonds rookie worth? Roger Clemens rookie? George Brett rookie? I have all of those cards!
I began to look up cards, and the value of cards overall were definitely up. But what gave this card the value, (among other things, like the autograph) was that it was a 1/1. I didn’t know there were cards that were 1/1!
I also listened to media influencer and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk say multiple times that cards were back in a big way. He is famously known for predicting and early investing in companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. Both Vaynerchuk and the owners of Goldin Auctions, who sold the Trout card, had predicted that that card would sell for no more than half a million. After the sale, they were interviewed and declared that the sports card market was currently “having a moment”.
As all of these factors converged, we’ve recognized that there is an opportunity for cards to not only continue to increase in value, but support a business that our boys would be interested in being a part of.