By Larry Canale
In mid-November, when the National League announced Christian Yelich as its 2018 MVP, did it spark a rush to the Brewer outfielder’s memorabilia? Well, not really. Instead of becoming an instantly pricey addition to your collection, Yelich values have remained relatively modest—trending upward, but still modest.
The highest-priced items after the big announcement were 2010 Bowman Chromes—a Blue Refractor that brought $732 on 16 bids and a Gold Refractor that fetched $542 on 21 bids. If Yelich were playing in New York or Los Angeles instead of Milwaukee, prices and bid totals would no doubt be elevated by double or triple. As it is, Yelich makes a worthy target for MVP collectors—if you shop around.
Sellers with signed Yelich cards, naturally, elevated their prices right after the MVP announcement. We spotted a number of autographed items from major card manufacturers at prices between $1,000 and $3,000. Among them was Topps’ 2017 Heritage card, which was inspired by the company’s burlap-border 1968 design. One seller offered a 2017 Heritage Yelich at $2,675 (it was unsold at press time). Another seller offered Yelich’s 2013 Topps Chrome Atomic Refractor at $2,000 (also unsold at press time).
Interestingly, two weeks before the MVP announcement, a rare 2010 Bowman Chrome rare Red Refractor—one of only five made—sold for $1,922. Just after the announcement, another seller put up his own Red Refractor at the Buy It Now price of $17,222. What a difference a couple of weeks can make!
Next time out, we’ll look at the impact, so far, of Mookie Betts’ 2018 AL MVP award.
MAHOMES KEEPS HEATING UP
Consistent production by Patrick Mahomes—and an uncharacteristically mediocre performance by Drew Brees the first week in December—have football experts leaning toward Mahomes as the NFL’s MVP favorite. And why not? Through the Chiefs’ first 15 games, the second-year surprise led KC to 11 wins and a playoff slot. His stats are jaw-dropping: 4,816 yards, 48 TD passes and only 11 interceptions in 556 attempts, all with one game left ahead.
As we noted in this space a few weeks back, Mahomes is more than “hot” in the collectibles space. Buyers are gobbling up newly listed items as quickly as they’re going up; consider that in the past three months, nearly 18,000 Mahomes items have sold, and at press time, there were 5,000 items available.
As you’ll note in our Top 10 chart, Mahomes is in the No. 5 slot with a 2017 Panini National Treasures auto-patch card selling for $22,100. It had been graded BGS 9.5 and is one of only five made with a black border surrounding the uniform patch.
And as you’ll note in the item below (“On the Outside”), two more variations of that National Treasures card ranked just beneath our Top 10. Expect more “rise” in Mahomes’ stock in the memorabilia market—especially if his high-octane offense keeps piling up the points on the gridiron during the playoffs.
ON THE OUTSIDE
Wondering what landed outside the Top 10 list? Here are the next eight—a sampling of football, hoops, baseball (including another Babe Ruth-signed ball) and hockey.
• $16,500: 1976 Topps Walter Payton (PSA 10)
• $15,100: 2007-08 Fleer Michael Jordan and LeBron James Hot Prospects Double Scribble, two autos (PSA 9, autos 10)
• $14,377: 2017 Panini National Treasures Patrick Mahomes, #13/25, auto patch (PSA 10)
• $14,100: 2017 Panini National Treasures Patrick Mahomes, #15/25, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
• $13,100: 2008-09 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Michael Jordan Portfolio, #1/1, auto patch (ungraded)
• $12,500: 2018 Topps Archives Blake Snell (based on Topps’ 1965 design), #9/17, auto (ungraded)
• $12,000: Babe Ruth signed baseball (Spalding League Junior baseball) (PSA BGS)
• $11,322: 2015-16 Upper Deck Connor McDavid Ice Premiers, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
VINTAGE FOOTBALL GOLDMINE?
Here’s another lot we love: an unopened 1973 Topps box of football cello packs that sold for $12,101. Authenticated and sealed by Baseball Card Exchange, the box contains 24 cello packs, each containing 24 cards. So within this little treasure chest are 576 vintage cards, presumably in at least 9 grade (centering can be problematical with these older sets).
Hall of Famers in the set make it irresistible to vintage football fans: quarterbacks John Unitas, Joe Namath, Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach; running backs Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Floyd Little and Leroy Kelly; receivers Don Maynard, Lance Alworth and Charley Taylor; defensive linemen Alan Page, Deacon Jones and Joe Greene; and linebackers Willie Lanier, Dick Butkus and Bobby Bell. And, even more enticing, there are the rookie cards of several other Hall of Famers: Ken Stabler, Franco Harris, Jack Ham, Art Shell, Dan Dierdorf and Jack Youngblood.
Back in 2014, Robert Edward Auctions sold an unopened box of 1973 Topps football for $7,110. That price seems like a bargain by comparison—or is $12,101 overpriced? If the buyer keeps the box sealed, probably not. Unopened product only grows in value. If the buyer tears into those 24 packs, the value will depend on his pulls.
To wit, here are some recent realized prices of the big-dollar cards in Topps’ 1973 football set:
• $676: Franco Harris, PSA 8
• $345: Jack Ham, PSA 9
• $305: Jack Youngblood, PSA 9
• $275: Roger Staubach, PSA 9
• $265: Dan Dierdorf, PSA 9
• $215: Ken Stabler, PSA 9
• $160: Joe Namath, PSA 8
• $80: Art Shell, PSA 9
• $75: Terry Bradshaw, PSA 8
Even pulling two of each of those cards wouldn’t put the value close to the buy price—except…note that all of the above are PSA 8 or PSA 9. If graded at 10, it’s clear sailing. Here are three actual examples of what a 10 grade means to the value of 1973 Topps football:
• In November, a PSA 10 specimen of Stabler’s rookie card sold for $9,100 on 74 bids—a far cry from the $215 price paid for a PSA 9.
• A PSA 10 card of HOF linebacker Nick Buoniconti brought $510, vs. $76 for a PSA 9.
• A PSA 10 card of journeyman QB Pat Sullivan fetched $438, vs. $65 for a PSA 8 card (which also had a sig).
The key to buying unopened wax, obviously, is to resist the temptation to rip open those packs—or hope that the star cards are perfectly centered and clear from hiccups and other printing defects.