It was a Michael Jordan sort of month. The legendary NBA star grabbed two spots on our Top 10 list: once for a Gem-Mint Fleer 1986-87 rookie card ($21,300), the other for a pair of game-worn, autographed sneakers ($13,100).
Plus, there were several other Jordan items that sold for five- and four-figure prices on eBay but fell just shy of our chart. Those included:
• A sweet-looking 2003-04 Upper Deck SP Jordan Signatures Edition card brought an even $10,000. It had been graded 10 by BGS.
• A rare 2007-08 Upper Deck SP Authentic Jordan Chirography Gold card earned a winning bid of $9,000. This bold-looking example of “Jordan Gold” was graded 9.5 by BGS.
• A 1986-87 Fleer Sticker fetched $7,800. The card—#8 in the popular set of hoop sticker-cards—was slabbed with a perfect PSA 10 grade. A second PSA-10 example of the same card went for $6,820.
Some things never go out of style. That’s why you’ll find, at any given time, nearly 60,000 Jordan items listed on eBay.
Speaking of NBA legends, one collector made a speculative buy in paying $1,325 for an unopened wax pack of 1980-81 Topps basketball cards. With only eight three-panel cards in the pack (along with a poster and a stick of gum, of course), it’s a long shot to pull the set’s holy grail out of a single pack: the Larry Bird/Magic Johnson/Julius Erving card. But the rising value of that classic clearly made it too hard to resist. As reported here in May, a PSA 10 specimen of the Bird/Magic/Dr. J card reached the staggering price of $88,988.
UNOPENED AND ENTICING
Unopened vintage packs just might be the most enticing items in the hobby. And when they’re cello or rack packs that reveal at least the front and back, all the better. Consider these recent sales, all of them under $1,000:
• A 1966 Topps Baseball cello pack graded 8 attracted a winning bid of $870. And that was without any stars or even minor stars showing through. On the front of the pack were pitchers Ed Barnowski and Eddie Watt. On the reverse, you can see Phil Roof plus a Fred Newman tattoo. Fans of baseball history will know those names. Barnowski played in parts of two seasons, getting into only six games (and posting a 2.57 ERA).
Watt’s career extended quite a bit longer; he pitched 10 seasons, mainly as a reliever, compiling a 2.90 ERA and a 38-36 record. Newman pitched six seasons, compiling a 33-39 record and a 3.41 ERA. And Roof played 14 seasons, mainly as a backup catcher, hitting .215 with 43 HRs.
Because the pack was a Series 5 issue, there’s promise within for a number of Hall of Famers, among them Tony Conigliaro, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline or Don Drysdale, not to mention Roger Maris.
• A 1967 Topps Baseball cello pack graded 9 sold for $414. Showing through on the front of the pack: the set’s classic “Cards Clubbers” issue, featuring Lou Brock and Curt Flood. By itself, the card typically sells for $40 to $60 if in 7 or 8 condition.
When Topps produced that card, just after the 1966 season, the speedy outfielders were coming off a campaign in which they terrorized opposing pitchers, combining for 88 steals (74 of them Brock’s) along with 350 total hits. The pair would help run the Cardinals to a World Series championship in 1967, batting .335 (Flood) and .299 (Brock) with 378 combined hits.
• A 1975 Topps rack pack touched off a bidding war, selling for $799 on 51 bids. The reason? A long-popular rookie card shows up on the front: Robin Yount. The pack, graded 8.5, also reveals pitcher Roger Nelson and first baseman Hal Breeden on the front and Sal Bando, Barry Foote and Bill Plummer on the reverse.
But Yount and fellow rookie George Brett have always been the stars of this set. Yount in particular attracted attention upon the set’s release. He was only 18—with one season of minor-league ball under his belt—when the Brewers called him up in 1974. He hit only .250 that season, but once he got out of his teens, his career took off. He ended up playing 20 seasons and accounting for 3,142 hits, 251 homers, 271 steals and a .285 average.
Yount’s rookie card may be an undervalued gem: recent sales have landed at $3,550 (BVG 9.5) and $1,175 (PSA 9).
OUTSIDE, LOOKING IN
Looking for an Aaron Judge item? Well, we’ve got a quickie for you. A 2013 Bowman Chrome Draft Pick Judge-signed Orange Refractor just missed five figures, selling for $9,997. The card had been graded 9.5 by BGS, with a 10 for the sig. Despite a post-All-Star-Game slump, Judge is still basking in collector love.