By Larry Canale
Lebron and logoman: In 2006, Upper Deck had LeBron James autograph a unique card bearing a patch from a game-used jersey. The patch piece was the distinctive “logoman” — the familiar red-white-and-blue logo inspired by a photo of Jerry West dribbling. That card, a one-of-one insert in Upper Deck’s 2006-07 Ultimate Collection set, came up for sale on eBay in late July and sold for a stunning $250,000.
The LeBron “Logoman” card had been graded 9 by BGS. All that kept it from a 10 grade (and even higher price) were minor nicks along the left edge. Otherwise, it’s a beauty, between the patch, James’ signature and a clean action photo of the young star dribbling up-court for the Cleveland Cavs.
Top Ten Online Auctions
1. $250,000: 2006-07 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection LeBron James Autographed NBA Logo Patch, #1/1 (BGS 9)
2. $85,000: 1986-87 Fleer Basketball unopened box (BBCE)
3. $50,100: 2009 Bowman Sterling Mike Trout Black Label Sterling, auto (BGS 10, auto 10)
4. $38,100: 1961-62 Fleer Wilt Chamberlain (PSA 9)
5. $31,100: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady, auto(PSA 9, auto PSA/DNA)
6. $30,000: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)
7. $28,000: 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Luka Doncic Gold, #3/10, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
8. $27,200: 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky (PSA 9)
9. $26,605: 1957 Topps John Unitas (PSA 8.5)
10. $26,669: 2011 Bowman Chrome Baseball unopened case (BBCE)
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: Wondering which items fell outside our Top 10 chart this time out? Here’s a look at the next five:
•$25,223: 1997-98 Fleer Metal Universe Michael Jordan Precious Metal Gems Red (ungraded; BGS authenticated)
• $25,166: 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan (SGC 9.5)
• $24,600: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Xfractor, #184/225, auto (PSA 10, auto PSA/DNA)
• $21,501: 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan (BGS 9)
• $21,350: 2013 Topps The Ultimate Chase Babe Ruth, #1/1, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
About that Ruth Ultimate Chase card: It’s a great-looking piece of memorabilia, aptly named “The Ultimate Chase Card” by Topps. It boasts a bold and beautiful cut signature from a document signed by The Sultan of Swat along with a game-used bat swatch. (What, they couldn’t fit in a uniform patch, too? We’re joking, of course…)
The card received a 9.5 grade from BGS. The image of Ruth is vibrant and bright, and the card’s corners are razor-sharp, according to seller PWCC. Needless to say, it’s a one-of-a-kind, which accounts for its realized price of $21,350. In fact, given the prices of the items above it, you could correctly say it’s a bargain.
QB CORNER: With the 2019 NFL season drawing near, we’re seeing more activity swirling around the names you’d expect, including future Hall of Famers Tom Brady (see our Top 10 chart), Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
In late July, we saw a 2005 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket card of Rodgers — now 35 and entering his 15th season with the Packers — reach five figures. Graded PSA 10, the card inspired 53 bids and landed at $10,099.
A Brees Contenders Rookie Ticket sold for even more: $17,626. One of 500 made, it comes from Playoff’s 2001 Contenders set and had been graded PSA 10. Last year, the ageless Brees (now 40) climbed past Peyton Manning and Brett Favre to become the NFL’s all-time passing yardage leader with 74,437. And with 520 career TD passes, he’ll likely edge past Manning (539) this season — if Brady (517) doesn’t get there first.
Rodgers is a few years behind Brady and Brees, but won’t approach their totals, having spent his first three seasons as Favre’s understudy. However, he’s been productive enough that, with a few more quality seasons, he should crack the top five in TDs and passing yards.
MAHOMES MAGIC: Speaking of NFL QBs hotly pursued in the hobby, how about Patrick Mahomes? His spectacular 50-TD-pass season last year (his second in the NFL and first as a starter) helped push him toward the Brady/Brees/Rodgers echelon. In recent months, we’ve seen bidders spend:
• $10,850 for a 1-of-1 autographed 2017 Flawless Diamond Gems Platinum card graded PSA 10- card.
• $9,999 for a 2017 Panini Contenders Rookie Ticket card (an Emerald Green from an edition of 23) graded PSA 10.
• $8,600 for a 2017 Panini National Treasures autographed card from an edition of 99.
THE BUZZ YOU HEAR: … is coming from Houston, where there’s a rookie absolutely tearing up major-league pitching. His name is Yordan Alvarez, who we mentioned in this space around the time of his call-up in June, and he’s combining authentic big-league power (13 HRs and 13 doubles in his first 148 at-bats) with high-average hitting (a .338 mark through early August).
The buzz has collectors actively buying and on the prowl for more. Over the past three months, more than 7,500 Alvarez items have changed hands on eBay alone, and at press time, there were nearly 2,000 more listings of Alvarez collectibles. Some items are budget-busters (his 2018 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor has exceeded $10,000), but it’s not too late to find reasonable items. For example:
• Forget the colored Refractor versions of his 2018 Bowman Chrome; we’ve seen a host of autographed “plain” Refractors sell for prices between $250 and $300, and that’s with multiple bids pushing the price up.
• We’ve seen 2018 Bowman’s Best Rookie Refractors sell for prices between $75 and $150.
• And how about his 2018 Topps Heritage card? Designed after Topps’ 1969 set, it was issued as an autographed insert in an edition of just 50, but we saw one sell for $209 and another for $135.
HOFer JOHNNY ROBINSON: It’s about time! The NFL Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 included defensive backs Champ Bailey, Ty Law and Ed Reed, executives Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt, tight end Tony Gonzalez, center Kevin Mawae and …safety Johnny Robinson. The longtime Chiefs star got in as the “Senior Finalist” this year, and his induction is long overdue.
In 1960, Robinson was selected in the first round of the AFL draft (by the Dallas Texans, who later became the Chiefs) and as the third overall pick of the NFL draft (by the Detroit Lions). He chose the AFL and was a productive running back his first two seasons, rushing for 658 yards and six TDs while catching 76 passes for 1,228 yards and nine more TDs.
Robinson switched to safety in 1962, picking off four passes in helping the Texans to the AFL championship. Over the next nine seasons, he was one of football’s best ballhawks, finishing his career with 57 interceptions and six fumble recoveries. He was a leader on the Chiefs’ Super Bowl-winning team to cap the 1969-70 season. And Robby, a six-time first-team All-Pro, played in seven Pro Bowl games.
In the collecting marketplace, defensive players take a back seat to the QBs, running backs, and wide receivers of the world. So over the years, Robinson hasn’t been an expensive name to add to a collection. Even after the announcement that he’d made the HOF, values didn’t spike.
Here’s a look at prices paid in recent eBay auctions for five worthy Robinson items:
• $369 for a 1961 Fleer Robinson rookie card graded PSA 9. Two examples of the card graded PSA 8 sold for $170 and $173, respectively.
• $178 for a 1965 Topps (oversized) card.
• $130 for a 1961 Topps graded PSA 7.
• $115 for a 1970 Topps card.