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Modern sports cards see bidding frenzies on eBay

Tom Brady and Michael Jordan trading cards aren't the only ones that have been heavily sought after and selling for high prices on eBay.

What’s going on out there? The online auction marketplace is flying high, with heavy bidding pushing cream-of-the-crop items into stratospheric price levels.

To wit: A 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket Tom Brady autograph card inspired 118 bids and soared to $400,100. Listed on eBay in mid-February by PWCC Auctions, the Near-Mint (BGS 9) specimen rode the wave of another Patriots Super Bowl win. Its rarity helped, of course: As PWCC’s listing noted, there were “just 100 copies ever made of the Championship Ticket parallel,” adding that it’s “one of the most condition-sensitive trading card issues ever made.”

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The Brady rookie wasn’t the only item to whip bidders into a frenzy. A 1997-98 Fleer Metal Universe Precious Metal Gems card of Michael Jordan—No. 2 on our chart—attracted even more bids: 130, to be exact. The competition helped push its price to $350,100. It was listed by the same seller, PWCC, that sold the Brady card.

Then there was a 2003 LeBron James signed patch card from Upper Deck’s 2003-04 Exquisite Collection. This one enjoyed still more bids—157—and landed at $150,100.

Those items took up three of the top four spots on our chart; the other, another Brady Playoff Contenders rookie, was a Buy-It-Now deal. Heavy bidding also played a part in the $64,317 sale of a Tiger Woods Champions of Golf rookie; the $62,600 sale of a Kobe Bryant Topps Chrome Refractor rookie; and the $32,500 sale of an Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James rookie, which finished a few spots outside our Top 10. The Woods card drew 99 bids, while the Bryant and James rookies drew 94. And there were legions of other items in the past month that inspired between 50 and 150 bids.

Why the surge in bids and bidding? We typically see an uptick this time of year because of the confluence of the Super Bowl, playoff stretch runs in the NBA and NHL and, of course, the start of spring training. Hope springs eternal—and apparently puts us in a spending mode.


The next 10 items beyond our Top 10 list were heavily dominated by basketball, with seven hoops cards showing up. And the first three aren’t even Michael Jordan items—rather, they’re Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan and LeBron James cards. But,“His Airness” shows up in four other items, all of them selling between $22,000 and $28,000. Two 1986-87 Fleer rookies were among the Jordan items; graded PSA 10, they brought prices of $26,800 and $24,000. (In fact, beyond the group of 10 items listed below, there were two other PSA 10 Jordan 1986-87 Fleer cards that sold for $21,315 and $20,000.)

• $35,555: 2007-08 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Kevin Durant Parallel, #18/35, auto patch (BGS 9)

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• $34,989: 1997 Fleer Metal Universe Tim Duncan Precious Metal Gems green (PSA 6)

• $32,500: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James, #8/25, auto patch (BGS 9)

• $30,099: 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup Alexander Ovechkin, #8/99, auto patch, (BGS 9)

• $27,078: 1998 Upper Deck SP Authentic Michael Jordan Sign of the Times gold die-cut, auto (BGS 9.5)

• $26,800: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)

• $25,101: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket (PSA 8)

• $24,000: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)

• $22,250: 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic Tom Brady, #578/1,250 (PSA 10)

• $22,189: 2009-10 Upper Deck Exquisite LeBron James/Michael Jordan


We reported last time out on a box (24 packs) of unopened 1969 Topps baseball cards that sold for $16,600. To continue a celebration of the 50th anniversary of that appealing set, let’s look at the kingpin in the set—no, not the Reggie Jackson rookie (even though it brings higher prices). No, the one to get is No. 500—Mickey Mantle’s final player card. It’s a beauty—a lefty-batting-pose of Mantle on the front and his complete career stats on the back. The reverse also delivers the news, complete with exclamation mark that no Yankees fan wanted to hear: “The All-Star announced his retirement from baseball on March 1st, 1969!”

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Recent sales of this sentimental favorite include a PSA 9 specimen that brought $8,100 on 33 bids. Another seller listed a white-letter variation of the card, which had been graded SGC 84, and fetched $4,312. Three other white-letter examples of the card, each graded PSA 7, brought prices of $3,495, $3,450 and $3,171.


No matter how many new stars of baseball come and go, Babe Ruth will always be in style. And anything he touched is gold by now. Example: a 2017 Leaf Pearl History Book Cut Signature memorabilia card. This one-of-a-kind treasure sold in mid-February for $15,200 on 35 bids.

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The selling price almost seems like a good deal. After all, this 1/1 Ruth memorabilia card features not only a perfectly preserved, well-inked cut signature, but a shaving from a game-used bat. And it wasn’t just any shaving. This one comes from the label part of the barrel of the bat and itbears Babe’s facsimile signature. The bat was made of a darker wood, and all these years later, it boasts a warm patina to go with that distinctive signature emblazoned into the wood.

Another recent big-money Ruth sale from mid-February: A PSA 6-graded 1933 Goudey card of the big man sold for $16,681. This one, #53 in the set, features an illustration of Ruth in a batting follow-through pose against a yellow background. As collectors of vintage items know, Babe appeared on four cards in Goudey’s 1933 set.


Here’s one for the program collectors out there: An “Official Score Book and Souvenir” from the July 16, 1914 game between the Red Sox and Tigers. It sold for $2,980 on 27 bids.

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What makes it special? The game marked the first career loss by a young pitcher named George Herman “Babe” Ruth, who was appearing in only his second major-league game ever. Ruth gave up two runs in three innings as the Red Sox fell to the Tigers, 5-2. The star attractions of those teams were Tris Speaker and Smokey Joe Wood of Boston and Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford of Detroit.

Despite its age, the program remains in impressive condition, save for some transparent tape used to repair a short tear on the spine. The scorecard within is mostly unmarked; the original owner made a few notations in the starting lineup and tallied a few runs scored by players that day.

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