HOLDING ON TO HANK — Hank Aaron’s death on Jan. 22 left the baseball world mourning—a state we’re getting accustomed to, considering the recent losses. In the past year, we said goodbye to such big hitters as Lou Brock, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Dick Allen and Bob Watson. We lost a veritable Hall of Fame pitching staff in Whitey Ford, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Phil Niekro and Don Sutton. From the football world, HOFers Don Shula, Paul Hornung, Gale Sayers, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood and Fred Dean were among the legends lost. It seems like forever ago that hoop legend Kobe Bryant died tragically; believe it or not, it was barely more than a year ago, in January 2020.
But Henry Louis Aaron—he was extra-special…baseball’s quiet hero, the man who dared to break Babe Ruth’s home-run record in the face of death threats. Our feature in our Feb. 15 issue described Aaron’s impact in the hobby and on the diamond. In the two weeks that have passed, predictably, Aaron items have been flooding eBay. Bidders have responded in volume, if not crazy prices (more on that in a minute).
Surprisingly, the highest-selling Aaron item went for “only” $31,655. While that’s not pocket change, it was nowhere near the figures on our Top 10 chart or even our “next 10.” Yet the item in question is one with plenty of appeal: a 1954 Topps Aaron rookie card in more-than-respectable condition: PSA 7. And it drew a hefty number of bids: 62.
Two other PSA 7-graded Aaron rookie cards drew eerily similar figures: $31,300 on 63 bids and $20,207 on 89 bids. Still another PSA 7 Aaron rookie got away at a “bargain” price: $24,988 on 55 bids.
It’s worth noting that in the weeks before Aaron’s passing, we saw two PSA 7-grade Topps rookie cards of the slugger sell for quite a bit less: $17,100 (44 bids) and $14,700 (59 bids).
What about even lower-grade Aaron rookies? Here’s what they were fetching in the two weeks after his death:
● PSA 6: One sold for $14,600, another went for $10,800 and still another fetched $9,600. Each drew between 42 and 50 bids.
● PSA 5: We saw one draw $9,101 on 54 bids, another get $7,190 on 11 bids and still another settle at $6,600 on 39 bids.
● PSA 4: One seller got $7,100 for a PSA 4 Aaron, with two others drawing $6,827 and $5,556. Each had between 40 and 65 bids.
We have not seen 9-grade Aaron rookies pop up on eBay in recent weeks. No doubt they’ll be showing up at major auction houses in the coming months. But that level of condition will command six-figure pricing. PSA is putting 9-grade Aaron rookies at $200,000.
THE AARON INVENTORY — Hank Aaron’s rookie card is the one we all want, but it’s far from the only attraction. There are some 30,000 listings that turn up when you search Aaron’s name at eBay. His post-rookie player cards alone make a worthy (and increasingly expensive) collection.
Highlights from the past two weeks:
● 1955 Topps: Two PSA 8 examples of Aaron’s second-year card sold for prices of $4,383 (26 bids) and $4,116 (45 bids).
● 1956 Topps: Two PSA 8 examples of Aaron’s third-year card sold for sums of $3,900 on 48 bids and $3,850 on 41 bids.
● 1957 Topps: This is one of the all-time error cards, with a flipped negative giving us a lefty-hitting Aaron. A PSA-8 example of this popular issue brought $2,325 on 38 bids.
● 1965 Topps: Jumping up eight years, we spotted a beautifully preserved ’65 Aaron that brought $3,383 on 38 bids. It’s the final card on which he’s wearing a Milwaukee Braves hat; the team moved to Atlanta for the 1966 season. However, we’d see him in a Milwaukee cap again on his final player card, his 1976 Topps issue, which captured him wearing a Brewers helmet.
● 1968 Topps: An impressive PSA 9 sold for $3,100 on 28 bids.
● 1974 Topps: We’ll jump up another six years here. If you were a kid in 1974 and pulled this one from a pack, it was an event. Card #1 in Topps’ set that year, it forecast the monumental feat Aaron would accomplish in April 1974 by blaring “New All-Time Home Run King” on the front of the card. He entered the season with 713 HRs, so it was a matter of “when,” not “if.” Today, surprisingly, this card is a relative bargain. After his passing, we saw a PSA 9 specimen sell for $411 (69 bids) and a PSA 8 sell for $405 (25 bids).
BRADY BOOM — Ho-hum. Another season, another Super Bowl ring for Tom Brady. While it seems like there are more fans rooting against the prolific Brady, there’s no doubt he’s also climbed to the top-most echelon of the sports collectibles hobby.
The item everybody wants? His 2000 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket—a card that provides an instant payoff every time it’s listed at auction.
In January, we saw one eBay result that was beyond jaw-dropping. A PSA 10, Gem-Mint example of the card sold for an astonishing $555,988 on 100 bids. And it closed days beforethe Super Bowl. The figure is four times what we were seeing just a few months ago. (Note: We’re awaiting confirmation from the seller, PWCC Auctions, that it’s a finalized and completed sale.)
Gem-Mint 10-grade cards always inspire crazed bidding, but even 9- and 8-level grades are gaining steam, especially in the case of Brady’s Contenders rookie. Just before and after Brady’s latest Super Bowl win, we saw a BGS 9 specimen sell for $85,100 on 70 bids and $79,100 on 35 bids. Plus, a PSA 8.5 sold for $75,100. We also saw a PSA 8.5-graded example of the card sell for $58,877.
How many of us are kicking ourselves for not stocking up on Brady’s rookie in 2000, when it could be had for a few dollars?
TOP 10 CHART
1. $555,988 on 100 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (PSA 10)
2. $215,000 on 1 bid: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Gold Refractor, #18/50, auto (PSA 10)
3. $200,100 on 72 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Sticker Michael Jordan (PSA 10)
4. $188,988 on 103 bids: 2017 Panini National Treasures Green Patrick Mahomes II, #7/15, auto (PSA 9)
5. $167,177 on 118 bids: 2009-10 Topps Chrome Stephen Curry Gold Refractor, #4/50 (BGS 9.5)
6. $140,100 on 45 bids: 2017 Panini National Treasures Patrick Mahomes II Holo Gold, #2/10, auto patch (PSA 10)
7. $128,323 on 85 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Xfractor, #53/220 (PSA 9)
8. $125,655 on 120 bids: 1986 Topps Jerry Rice (PSA 10)
9. $125,100 on 100 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (SGC 9.5)
10.$120,100 on 168 bids: 2008-09 Upper Deck Metal Universe Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems Green, #10/10 (BGS 9)
THE NEXT 10 — A quick observation from your columnist: In almost two decades of “Online Auctioneer,” we’ve never seen this level of bidding. Prices for top-condition, star-quality items are—as one longtime hobby auction-house contact told us—“totally nuts.” He isn’t convinced it’ll keep up.
For now, though, we’re seeing “sky’s the limit” bidding from well-funded buyers. This is the first time that all 10 items in our Top 10 chart brought six figure prices (all during a two-week period!). It spilled into the “next 10” items, too. We list those below, and if we had more space, you’d see nearly 30 additional items that exceeded $50,000 each. Ten of those are Michael Jordan-related and five are Tom Brady-related.
● $115,100 on 96 bids: 2012-13 National Treasures Kawhi Leonard Gold, #2/5, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
● $104,600 on 45 bids: 2019-20 Panini National Treasures Zion Williamson, #13/99, auto patch (PSA 8)
● $85,101 on 96 bids: 2003-04 Bowman Chrome LeBron James Xfractor, #7/150 (BGS 9.5)
● $85,100 on 70 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (BGS 9)
● $80,100 on 140 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Refractor (BGS 9.5)
● $80,100 on 155 bids: 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux (PSA 10)
● $79,100 on 35 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (BGS 9)
● $77,988 on 86 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 9)
● $76,099 on 80 bids: 1976 Topps Walter Payton (PSA 10)
● $75,100 on 73 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (PSA 8.5)