The New York Yankees’ youth movement has resulted in the emergence of several fresh-faced stars. The two who are making the most noise: outfielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez.
These “Baby Bombers” are sizable building blocks — literally. They look like football players. Imagine Judge as a sack-happy defensive end; he’s 6-foot-7, 282 pounds. The burly Sanchez, at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, might be at home as a middle linebacker. Then again, they’re doing just fine on the diamond. Sanchez, in his first 260 at-bats, has 23 home runs. Judge, in his first 200 at-bats, already has 18 homers.
Not surprisingly, collectors have been taking notice. Consider the $9,000 one collector paid for a 2013 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor signed by Judge. Both card and autographed received a perfect-10 grade from BGS. An Orange Refractor of the same card, also signed by Judge, sold for $6,000 (grade: 9.5 for the card, 10 for the sig). And two Judge Bowman Chrome Gold Refractors from 2013 sold for prices of $4,050 and $4,000. (Look for ungraded versions of these cards to get to a more reasonable level. A Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor, for example, sold for $930. Two others sold for $790.)
One of the best-looking Judge cards is his 2017 Topps Heritage issue, which is designed after Topps’ classic 1968 brown-burlap-bordered set. The card gives us a tight close-up of a smiling Judge, bat on shoulder. A perfect signed specimen of this card (graded PSA 10) sold for $850 on 22 bids in mid-May.
Judge-signed baseballs are going for anywhere from $100 to $200. If you’re shopping, as always, consider whether a ball has been authenticated or not. Judge-signed photographs are selling in the $50 to $100 range.
Sanchez autograph pieces are selling in similar price ranges. If you shop around, though, you’ll find authenticated baseballs started a little lower, around $60, but getting up to $200. Likewise, Sanchez-signed photos can be had for around $30 but can push up to around $100.
The card of choice among Sanchez collectors is also his Bowman Chrome rookie, a 2010 issue. Recent sales have seen a Gold Refractor Chrome Sanchez graded BGS 9.5 (and 10 for the autograph) sell for $1,902 and an ungraded Gold Refractor go for $1,525. A Blue Refractor Sanchez card with a BGS 9.5/10 grade drew $1,675, while an ungraded specimen went for $600.
Look for a 2017 Topps Heritage card of Sanchez for $40 to $75 (unsigned). A Blue Refractor version goes for $75 to $115.
Speaking of Bombers who have lit up the Big Apple, note the presence of a Reggie Jackson rookie card on our Top 10 list. It comes from Topps’ colorful 1969 set, which also features Mickey Mantle’s final player card. A PSA 9 version of Jackson’s rookie landed on eBay in early May and brought $22,100 on, fittingly, 44 bids. (While he wore #9 during his early Oakland A’s days, Jackson adopted #44 when he joined the Yankees.) Jackson’s rookie can be difficult to find in Mint condition because of printing issues; it’s often off-center and sometimes shows signs of press hiccups — subtle ink imperfections.
Other recent sales of Jackson’s rookie include a PSA 8 that sold for $3,000; a GAI 9.5 that got away for $2,737; and another PSA 8 that fetched $2,114. Jump ahead several years to 1976: a PSA 10 specimen of a Jackson card from that Topps issue went up for auction last month and attracted 40 bids, landing at $4,067.
ONE MORE YANKEE NOTE
Mickey Mantle was missing from our Top 10 chart last time out — a truly rare occurrence. He’s back this time at the second slot, thanks to a 1953 Topps card of The Magnificent Yankee that brought $38,100. It was in impeccable condition for its age, having been graded PSA 8.
And just outside our Top 10 list is another Mantle: his 1952 Topps rookie. This one didn’t have the same condition purity—it was graded SGC 50 (equivalent to, roughly, a PSA 4). But it still sold for $20,900.
RUN, RICKEY, RUN
He played in the major leagues for 25 years and stole a record 1,406 bases, retiring with a batting average of .279 and a record 2,295 runs scored. But Rickey Henderson has never risen to the upper tier in the collecting marketplace. Perhaps it was that moment in 1991 when he set the all-time mark for steals and told the huge crowd in attendance, “Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I’m the greatest of all time.” That sound bite was played ad nauseam; out of context, it did sound boastful and even disrespectful of Brock. When you watch a clip of his whole (short) speech, though, it’s not so bad.
Regardless, it’s nice to see Henderson’s rookie card, a 1980 Topps, get some attention (especially if you happen to own one). Tucked into the middle of our Top 10 list is a PSA 10 Gem-Mint example of Henderson’s first card, and it drew a king’s ransom: $26,302 on 45 bids. How much difference does a 10 make? Consider that over the past three months, three PSA 9 examples of Henderson’s rookie card have sold for an average of $537. Condition, as always, is critical.
THE LEGENDARY PEYTON
He’s been retired for a full season now, but Peyton Manning is hardly forgotten, especially when it comes to the collectibles arena. In mid-May, a 1998 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket autograph card of Manning sold for $20,000. It’s among the most desirable Manning cards, having been produced in a quantity of only 200. This one was in top condition; it sported a BGS 9 grade, with a 10 for the autograph.
It’s not an easy card to find; at press time, only one other — an ungraded specimen — was listed at eBay. Asking price: $12,000.
Auction items offered in the name of a charitable organization always seem to draw extra support. Recent example on eBay: an autographed race-worn helmet from Kyle Busch. The star driver (for Joe Gibbs Racing) placed first in the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and third in the 2016 series. Busch, younger brother of fellow NASCAR star Kurt Busch, is also owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports, which sponsors multiple trucks in the Camping World Truck Series.
On April 24, the helmet Busch wore at NASCAR’s Bristol Motor Speedway event a week earlier attracted 76 bids and sold for $15,000. A full 100 percent of the proceeds from the race benefited the Kyle Busch Foundation “Bundle of Joy” Fund (see www.kylebuschfoundation.org).