By Larry Canale
If you play fantasy football and were smart enough to snag Pat Mahomes, then you need no introduction to the Kansas City Chiefs’ young-gun quarterback. Drafted in the first round (10th pick overall) in 2017, Mahomes had a quiet rookie season playing behind durable Alex Smith. This season, with Smith now playing for the Redskins, Mahomes has burst onto the scene and become an instant star. He led the Chiefs to a 9-1 record through mid-November, tossing 31 touchdowns vs. only seven interceptions. In that stretch of 10 games, he threw for 300-plus yards eight times.
Not surprisingly, the collectibles market is all over Mahomes. Last time out, our Top 10 chart included a 2017 Panini Contenders autographed card of Mahomes (Cracked Ice, #8/25, graded PSA 10) that sold for $16,922. Two months earlier, as the NFL season was getting underway, another PSA 10 version of the card sold for “only” $10,000. Clearly, Mahomes has made an impact on the memorabilia market.
Other recent sales include a 2017 Panini National Treasures autographed patch card of Mahomes that sold for $10,477. It was a real rarity (one of 25 “holo silver” variations) and was in perfect condition (PSA 10), so it’s no surprise that competition for the card was so heavy: It drew 84 bids.
In September and October, two other 2017 National Treasures cards of Mahomes sold for big prices: one at $10,000, another at $8,888. Both were part of a limited run of 99 issues. At press time, still another 2017 National Treasures Mahomes card—this one with the Nike “swoosh” logo captured in the patch—turned up in a Buy It Now deal for $8,000.
A LOOK BACK AT “THE SPLENDID SPLINTER” — The Ted Williams card noted above is worth a look. Bowman’s 1950 set is a classic, thanks in part to the hand-colored illustrations on each card. In Williams’s case, the art captures the slugger in a post-swing pose with venerable old Fenway Park grandstands in the background. Great image.
The card’s reverse has all the biographical data that kids of the day memorized: Ted was born in San Diego on Oct. 30, 1918; he stood 6-foot 3-inches and weighed 190 pounds; he batted left-handed and threw right-handed. The text underneath refers to one of his many nicknames: “The Thumper” (fans and media also called him “The Kid,” “Teddy Ballgame” and “The Splendid Splinter”).
While 1950 Bowman cards didn’t offer the stat boxes we would come to expect, the text did give us the highlights from the previous season: “In 1949, he led the league in homers (43), runs scored (160), total bases (368), and two-base hits (39). He drove in 159 runs, which tied him for the lead in that department.”
The text also notes that he was the AL MVP in 1949 and also in 1946. And it honors him as baseball’s last .400 hitter, having batted “an amazing .406” in 1941. In the 68 years since this beautiful card came off the presses, baseball is still waiting for another .400 hitter.
Want to add this card to your collection without spending $15,000? You can find examples graded 3, 4 or 5 at prices between $200 and $500.
REG-GIE! REG-GIE! — Reggie Jackson’s rookie card, 1969 Topps, remains solidly in five figures if in Near-Mint condition. Yet the high-water mark has softened. Two years ago, in May 2016, we reported on a near-perfect PSA 9 version of Jackson’s rookie that sold on eBay for $22,499. In our most recent issue, we reported on a PSA 9 specimen that sold for $16,525. And this time out, another PSA 9 Jackson rookie caught our attention, but at a still lower price: $14,831.
If you’ve been on the hunt for a Jackson rook, this trend is good news. Even so, you may still want to avoid paying upwards of $10,000. In that case, set your sights on a lower grade. In recent months, we’ve seen a 1969 Jackson card graded PSA 8.5 sell for $4,805 and several PSA 8 examples sell for prices between $1,000 and $2,000. Lower your sights to a 6 or 7 grade and you’ll find Jackson rookies at $350 to $700.
FLUTIE MAGIC — In our most recent “Online Auctioneer,” we mentioned Doug Flutie; he was the Chargers’ starting QB when Drew Brees arrived on the scene in San Diego. The reference inspired us to take a peek at his memorabilia.
Despite not being a Hall of Famer, Flutie has always been a popular figure, starting with his Boston College days and the “Hail Mary” pass he pulled off to beat Miami in 1984. The 5-foot-7 QB went on to star in the USFL for a season (1985), and then played in the NFL for four seasons (the Bears and the Patriots). Not given a chance to start, he went on to the Canadian Football League, where he starred for eight years. In 1998, he came back to the NFL for eight more seasons, playing for the Bills, Chargers and Bill Belichick’s Patriots.
In Buffalo, Flutie made his mark in the NFL; in three seasons, he compiled a 21-9 record as a starter and passed for 7,582 yards and 47 TDs while rushing for 885 yards and three more TDs. He also became the subject of a cereal, Flutie Flakes, that made headlines. (If you saved boxes of Flutie Flakes from the 1990s, don’t get too excited: They sell for just a few dollars these days, whether empty or unopened with decades-old cereal inside.)
But it’s his USFL rookie card that collectors want most. Issued by Topps in 1985, it captures Flutie as a New Jersey General. In Gem Mint condition, it sells for $125 to $200.
Look also for Flutie autographs on mini helmets, jerseys and footballs; they typically go for $50 to $150. Flutie-signed photos and magazines can be had for $25 to $50. And if you want a fun rarity, look for the limited-edition bobblehead doll of Flutie as the CFL Grey Cup MVP with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 1996 and ’97. We recently spotted one that sold for $45 on eBay.