ATHLETES BE ROLE MODELS — Who’s the ultimate sports hero—a star on the field of play who also showed class and decency off the field? One name that belongs in the discussion is Bart Starr. The longtime Green Bay quarterback was a leader, a clutch performer and (per his five NFL championships in five seasons) a winner. And off the field, Starr was a model citizen, throwing his time and energy into all kinds of charitable ventures, including the Rawhide Boys Ranch (rawhide.org) and Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation (lombardifoundation.org).
The Top 10 chart here puts Starr in our eyes again. The Hall of Famer, who died in May 2019, will always have a place of honor in the hobby, thanks to his rookie card, a key to Topps’ 1957 football set. Today, Starr’s rookie is hard to find in conditions north of 6 or 7. So in August, when a seller listed an SGC 9 specimen of the card, he found a ready line of bidders. The price soared to $53,433.
On one hand, that figure is a steal compared to the PSA 9 Starr rookie that sold for an unbelievable $288,000 at Heritage Auctions in 2017. On the other hand, the $53,433 sale is three times higher than the $17,652 paid in a 2014 eBay sale for a Starr rook with the same SGC 9 grade.
Obviously, if you want a Starr rookie, prices can be inconsistent, so shop around. Over the past three months, we’ve seen PSA 7-graded Starr rookies sell for sums within a narrower but still notable range:
• $2,950 on 23 bids.
• $1,846 on 24 bids.
• $1,596 on 26 bids.
• $428 on 11 bids.
ROOKIE WONDER — In this abbreviated baseball season, Kyle Lewis is an early favorite for Rookie of the Year honors. Through Sept. 1, the Seattle Mariners center fielder was hitting .328 with eight homers and 21 RBI in 36 games. We’d love to see what he’d have done over a full 162-game schedule, but COVID-19 had other ideas. As it is, if you count the 18 games Lewis played in 2019, he prorates to 42 homers, 102 RBI and a .307 average over a full season.
Fantasy baseball owners are sitting up and taking notice. So too are collectors, as illustrated by prices paid for variations of Lewis’ 2016 Bowman Chrome card:
• $2,550 on 32 bids for an autographed Red Wave Refractor graded BGS 9 (marked #5/5).
• $2,247 on 33 bids for an autographed Orange Refractor graded PSA 10 (#18/25).
• $1,725 on 35 bids for an autographed Green Refractor graded PSA 10 (#84/99).
Other recent prices paid for Lewis prizes:
• $800 on 22 bids for an ungraded 2020 Topps Red Refractor.
• $680 on 14 bids for a 2020 Topps Turkey Red Chrome Superfractor graded BGS 9.5.
• $664 on 40 bids for an ungraded 2020 Topps Finest Flashback Red Refractor (#1/5).
• $455 on 12 bids for this unique item—a 2016 Leaf Trinity card autographed by Lewis with this inscription: “#11 pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.” The card was a 1-of-1 issue.
STRANGE DAYS INDEED — The 2020 World Series will go down as one of the most memorable ever. We say that without knowing which teams will make it and whether or not we see on-field drama.
The weirdness comes from the fact that coronavirus nearly wiped out the season. MLB rallied to put together an abbreviated schedule, but looking ahead to postseason play, who knows what’ll happen?
If you’re like us, you’ll want something—anything—to celebrate the 2020 World Series even getting played. For example, if there are no fans at the game, will there even be a game program?
As autumn approaches, you can find all kinds of items tied to strange World Series of the past. Pick your own weird moments and situations, and find a related memento. We’ll start with the 1989 Fall Classic—remember when the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Candlestick Park at the start of Game 3?
The quake caused a 10-day delay in the series, which ended with an Oakland A’s sweep over the San Francisco Giants. Today, memorabilia from that World Series is dirt cheap, despite the circumstances surrounding the series. For example, you can find unused game tickets for less than $100 and programs for less than $40.
Even signed items aren’t out-of-sight, price-wise. Consider:
• A 1989 Oakland A’s team-signed ball including the autographs of Rickey Henderson, Mark McGwire and Dave Parker got away for $280 on one bid in late August.
• A baseball signed by Henderson went for $225 in a Buy It Now sale. The ball bears a commemorative “1989 World Series” stamp.
• A PSA-authenticated Game 2 ticket stub signed by World Series MVP Dave Stewart sold for $200.
• A Giants team-signed ball sold for $140. Signatures included those of Will Clark, Matt Williams and Kevin Mitchell.
Remembering the jarring nature of the ’89 World Series, here’s hoping the 2020 event is uneventful.
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN — Man, it’s odd to see Tom Brady in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform! While you get used to the change, we’ll note a more familiar sight—Brady in Patriots togs. Placing not too far outside our Top 10 list were two different Brady holy grails: his 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic and 2000 Playoff Contenders rookie cards.
The Contenders issue has extra appeal to autograph collectors, since it bears his sig. The BGS 9 example listed here brought an impressive enough figure, $40,095, but in this space last time, we reported on another BGS 9 Brady Rookie Ticket that brought $47,100 on 52 bids.
Here’s a look at the full “next 10” items:
• $51,100 on 49 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck SP Authentic LeBron James, #252/500, auto (PSA 10)
• $50,100 on 103 bids: 2018-19 Panini Flawless Luka Doncic Ruby, #7/15, auto patch (ungraded)
• $49,100 on 123 bids: 2005-06 Upper Deck The Cup Alexander Ovechkin, #95/99, auto patch (BGS 9.5)
• $47,700 on 65 bids: 2018-19 Panini Prizm Luka Doncic White Sparkle Prizms, #/20 (PSA 10)
• $44,600 on 80 bids: 2004-05 Upper Deck SP Signature LeBron James Inkredible Inkscriptions, #2/25, auto (PSA 10)
• $43,602 on 56 bids: 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic Tom Brady, #308/1250 (PSA 10)
• $42,877 on 97 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (BGS 9.5)
• $42,211 on 44 bids: 2006-07 Fleer E-X Jambalaya Michel Jordan DieCut, #J (PSA 10)
• $41,102 on 43 bids: 2015-16 Upper Deck The Cup Connor McDavid, #70/99, auto patch (BGS 9.5, auto 10)
• $40,095 on 22 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (BGS 9)
TOP 10 CHART
1. $145,300 on 99 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Black Refractor, #284/500 (PSA 10)
2. $131,600 on 55 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection LeBron James Noble Nameplates, #14/25, BGS 9
3. $98,600 on 74 bids: 2000 Upper Deck SPx Spectrum Tom Brady, #11/25 (BGS 9.5)
4. $92,423 on 62 bids: 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Michael Jordan Limited Logos, #8/75, auto (BGS 9.5)
5. $83,100 on 69 bids: 1979 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky (BVG 9.5)
6. $76,400 on 62 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Basketball sealed wax box (36 packs) (BBCE authentication)
7. $75,099 on 118 bids: 2018-19 Panini Flawless Luka Doncic Emerald, #2/5, auto patch (ungraded)
8. $64,800 on 64 bids: 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James Xfractor, #15/220 (PSA 9)
9. $56,400 on 77 bids: 1996-97 Topps Chrome Kobe Bryant Refractor (BGS 9.5)
10. $53,433 on 35 bids: 1957 Topps Bart Starr (SGC 9)