It hasn’t just been athletes from the four major sports who have had a surge in their card prices. Offbeat sports such as soccer, boxing and golf have also benefitted. Here is a list of those cards that collectors should get their hands on if it isn’t too late.
1. Pelé 1958 Alifabolaget
The highest-priced soccer card of all time is that of Pelé. The rookie card of the Brazilian legend exudes a rich, colorful and vibrant portrait of the 17-year-old. Sold by Goldin Auctions in November, it fetched $295,200. The PSA 9 is just one of five examples at the grade. There are no higher grades, and PSA has only ever graded 50 Pelé cards from the ’58 Alifabolaget series.
2. Tiger Woods 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids
Any youngsters who used to received Sports Illustrated for Kids back in the 1990s remember the magazine featured cards of some of the top up-and-coming athletes. Nine cards would come to a page and each card could be separated at the perforation between them. The difficult maneuver of tearing out the cards usually resulted in damage. In ’96, SI for Kids put out a card for young golfer Tiger Woods. Now that Woods has captured 15 major titles during his career, one of his “rookie” cards is worth a fortune. In 2001, a PSA 10 sold for a mind-blowing $125,000. This past December, a BGS Pristine 10 sold for $26,400 through Heritage Auctions.
3. Mike Tyson 1986 Panini SuperSport Italian
One of the greatest boxers of all time, Tyson finished 50-6-2 during his career. He was ferocious in the ring with 44 knockouts. It’s a little surprising not more Tyson base cards were ever produced. The first card was distributed in Europe, the Panini SuperSport in 1986. PSA has only graded 79 of the cards, with three receiving gem-mint 10s. In late December 2020, a PSA 10 was listed on eBay for an eye-popping $920,000.
4. Lionel Messi 2004 Panini Sports Mega Cracks
When Messi started to make a name for himself during his teenage years, European card companies took notice of his talent. In 2004, a number of Messi rookie cards were produced, but the Panini Sports Mega Cracks has emerged as his top Tier I card. A PSA 10 version of the then-17-year-old for Barcelona sold for a record $116,988 on eBay in September 2020.
5. Jim Thorpe 1912 Olympic Heroes Postcard
Prior to his professional football career, Thorpe was a phenomenal track and field athlete. Known as one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports, Thorpe made a name for himself in the 1912 Olympics. He won gold in the pentathlon and decathlon. There is an Olympic Heroes Postcard that was released after the Olympics. It’s unknown how many of these postcards were made or still exist, but they appear to be rare.
6. Dale Earnhardt Sr. 1988 Maxx Medallion
One of the greatest racers of all time, Earnhardt Sr. didn’t have much for cards early in his career. In 1988, Maxx was going to release a card of Earnhardt, but the two parties couldn’t come to terms. It wasn’t until 1994 that Maxx put out the ’88 Earnhardt card. Numbered to 999 and offered as a redemption, they were available at just one per case.
7. Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali 1971 Barratt Goldflake
Arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Ali went 56-5 in his career with 37 knockouts. Born Cassius Clay, he converted to Islam in 1964 and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. In 1971, Barratt & Co. Ltd., released a 50-card set of Goldflake Famous Sportsmen cards. It’s a picture of Ali in the ring looking down. It’s one of the first cards to reference his name change to Ali.
8. Cristiano Ronaldo 2003 Panini Mega Craques
This is Ronaldo’s first card when he was 17 years old while playing for Sporting Clube de Portugal. It shows the young up-and-comer taking the ball up the field. This card continues to increase in value and sold for over $41,000 during an eBay auction in September 2020.
9. William Tilden 1933 Goudey Sport Kings
Those who don’t know much about early 20th Century tennis might not know the name William Tilden. He is one of the greatest to ever play the sport. Tilden finished his career with a record of 907-62 (93.6 winning percentage). The 1933 Goudey Sport Kings – which is a magnificent set – is Tilden’s most expensive card. There are only two PSA 9s – one sold for $10,800 in 2017.
10. Indians Playing Lacrosse 1959 Fleer Indian Trading Card
In 1959, Fleer released an 80-card set of Indian trading cards. The card of Indians playing lacrosse depicts two men battling for a loose ball that’s in the air. This is one of the most expensive cards in the set.