By LARRY CANALE
ROOKIE PARADE: The rookie parade of 2019 continues its march into the history books. We’ve reported in recent issues on the upward-trending prices of memorabilia related to the likes of Vladimir Guererro Jr., Cavan Biggio and Yordan Alvarez, among others. But let’s revisit Pete Alonso on the heels of a history-making home run he hit.
When the burly slugger hit his 42nd homer this season (Aug. 26), he set a Mets franchise record. It only made his memorabilia hotter. Collectors continue to stock up on Alonso, and they’re especially partial to his 2016 Bowman Chrome Refractor cards. His Chromes have been selling for $1,500 to $7,000, depending on color (with “regular” Refractors on the low end and Orange Refractors at the high end). We’re not thinking they’ll decline in price anytime soon.
A more budget-friendly option: a signed baseball. Alonso-inked authenticated balls are going for $100 to $150—and again, we don’t expect to see a crash in that market! As always, steer toward offerings authenticated by sources you trust. And study his signature to help yourself learn to spot fakes.
TOP 10 ONLINE AUCTIONS
- $98,888: 2005-06 Upper Deck Exquisite Limited Logos Michael Jordan, #22/50, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
- $51,558: 1997-98 Fleer Metal Universe Tim Duncan Precious Metal Gems Green,
#10/100 (BGS 8)
- $48,895: 1933 Goudey Napoleon Lajoie (PSA 4.5)
- $40,178: 2018 Panini Prizm Choice Nebula Luka Doncic, #1/1 (PSA 10)
- $40,000: 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky (PSA 9)
- $37,199: 2015-16 Upper Deck The Cup Connor McDavid, #54/99, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
- $36,336: 2003-04 Upper Deck Ultimate Collection LeBron James, #127/250, auto (BGS 9)
- $35,000: 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky (PSA 9)
- $33,211: 1966-67 Topps Bobby Orr (SGC 9)
- $32,000: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN: What off-season? Nearly smack-dab in the middle of the NBA Finals and the start of the 2019-2020 season, five of the 10 items that placed outside our Top 10 were hoop-related. And only one of them was a Michael Jordan treasure, meaning the other four were related to current stars. Noteworthy among them: a 1-of-1 Kawhi Leonard National Treasures autographed patch card from Panini. The card features the ever-popular Logoman patch. It might have sold for even more than its $22,322 final price if it had been graded. Or perhaps not—a close inspection of the photograph reveals it’s not close to Mint condition. The bottom edge has evidence of chipping and wear.
The full list of our “next 10”:
- $30,655: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)
- $30,000: 1954 Topps Hank Aaron (PSA 8)
- $25,099: 2018 Playoff Contenders Patrick Mahomes Championship Ticket, #6/10, auto (ungraded)
- $24,144: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James, #/100, auto patch (BGS 8.5
- $23,035: 2007-08 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Kevin Durant, #94/99, auto patch (BGS 9)
- $22,322: 2018-19 Panini National Treasures Kawhi Leonard Logoman Autographs, #1/1, auto patch (ungraded)
- $20,988: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout, #/150 (PSA 8, auto 10)
- $20,200: 2000 Upper Deck Authentic Tom Brady, #118/1250 (PSA 10)
- $20,000: 1950 Bowman Otto Graham (PSA 9)
- $20,000: 2013-14 Panini Flawless Giannis Antetokounmpo, #10/10, auto (ungraded)
LARRY LEGEND: Napoleon “Larry” Lajoie is one of those baseball legends whose career is so far in the past that he’s sometimes (unfairly) forgotten. And then… a beauty of a Lajoie item will pop up on eBay, and we’ll remember what an important name he was in baseball’s early years. Just such an item popped into our view last month: a 1933 Goudey Lajoie card graded PSA 4.5.
Goudey issued the card, remember, decades after Lajoie’s career ended. He played from 1896 through 1916, finishing his career with a .338 average, 82 homers (in the dead-ball era), 380 steals and a reputation as one of the smoothest fielders the game knew up to that point.
Consider this colorful passage from SABR (Society of American Baseball Research): “At 6-foot, 1-inch and 200 pounds, Lajoie possessed an unusually large physique for his time, yet when manning the keystone sack he was wonderfully quick on his feet, threw like chain lightning, and went over the ground like a deer.”
The text on the reverse of Goudey’s 1933 card adds to the picture, summarizing both his fielding prowess and slugging: “[Lajoie] was the most graceful infielder ever to spear a grounder or toss out a runner bound for first base. Larry hit above .300 for 15 years in the National and American Leagues, and that was long before the lively ball was introduced. At end of 1901 season, he had batted an average of .405, and topped the American League in 1901, 1903 and 1904.”
The $48,895 paid for Goudey’s 1933 Lajoie card was impressive, but be aware that you can find other vintage Lajoie items for far less. In recent months, for example, we saw these prices paid:
- $2,353 for a 1909-11 portrait-pose T206 Piedmont tobacco card of Lajoie graded PSA 5.5.
- $2,000 for a 2018 Topps Transcendent Cut Signature jumbo card of Lajoie. Even though this one was produced in 2018, we’ll call it “vintage” because it contains a certified 1954 Lajoie cut sig (signed “Larry Lajoie”) included as part of a 1-of-1 oversized box-topper.
- $1,800 for a 2019 Topps Certified Cut Signature Relic—another 1-of-1 vintage Lajoie autograph packaged as an insert in 2019 Topps Tier One Baseball.
- $1,570 for a 1909-11 throwing-pose T206 Sweet Caporal Cigarettes card graded PSA 6.
- $1,500 for a 1913 Pinkerton Scorecard blank-back postcard graded SGC 4. This enticing item gives us an authentic view of Lajoie—it’s a full-body photograph in which he’s standing on a baseball diamond holding a big and thick-handled bat.
LARRY LEGEND II: Well, how can we tease you with a “Larry Legend” title and then give you nothing about Larry Bird? After all, it was the Celtic great’s nickname.
In January, we reported in our “best of 2018” review that Bird’s tri-panel 1980-81 rookie card, which also features Magic Johnson and Julius Erving, took up four of the year’s 20 spots, with prices between $75,000 and $125,000. All were PSA 10s. Lower your target to a PSA 9 and you can spend far less—between $3,500 and $5,000.
Or, go for a different Bird treasure… like an autographed card issued by a major manufacturer. Examples:
- An ungraded 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection card sold for $2,500 in June. Produced in an edition of 33, it features a Bird sig inked vertically alongside his photo.
- A 2003-04 UD Exquisite Collection “Limited Logos” auto-patch card of Bird sold for $2,000. It was graded BGS 8.5.
- A 2010-11 UD Ultimate Collection card featuring autographs from both Bird and adversary Michael Jordan fetched $1,225. One of only 25 made, it had been graded BGS 9.5—but sold for a surprisingly low price. The photos on the card featured Bird and Jordan in their college days (Indiana State and North Carolina, respectively). u