If you needed a reason to fall in love with baseball again, you got two of them as the season wound down.
First, on Sept. 20, Aaron Judge became only the seventh player in history to reach 60 homers. Then, just three days later, Albert Pujols joined an even more exclusive club when he hit his 700th career homer. He joined Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
Judge kept the historic home run parade going on Wednesday, hitting his 61st home run to tie Yankee great Roger Maris' for the most single-season home runs in the American League.
Both events were momentous and joyous occasions, well-covered by any and every type of media. All season long, both sluggers have been hounded, hyped and highly visible. As is the case in such situations, memorabilia changes hands at a dizzying pace. And there are plenty of opportunities. On eBay alone, you’ll find more than 77,000 listings offering Pujols-related items and more than 62,000 Judge-related items. Let’s take a look.
SUB: JACKED UP FOR JUDGE
The night after Judge’s 60th homer, bidding wars broke out on eBay over all kinds of items. The most popular (and pricey): his 2013 signed Bowman Chrome Refractor card. A Blue Wave variation marked #36/50 sold for $15,285 on 56 bids while a Black Wave (#50/50) brought $14,900 on 48 bids. Both were graded BGS 9.5.
Two days later, a Gold Refractor variation (#29/50, graded BGS 10) fetched $12,099. Some perspective: In July, another example of this very same Judge card brought a far higher price: $20,100 on 36 bids.
Non-Refractor versions of Judge’s rookie card are less expensive but, alas, not cheap. In recent weeks, we’ve seen PSA 10 examples sell for $8,500 on 61 bids, $6,615 on 71 bids and $5,500 on 42 bids.
It isn’t just Judge’s rookie cards that draw a crowd. A later Topps Chrome card, a 2017 Orange Refractor marked #12/25 and graded BGS 9.5, just sold for $10,200 on 35 bids. A similarly rare issue — a 2017 Topps Chrome Update Red Refractor marked #11/25 — sold for $6,750. It was also graded BGS 9.5.
While we’re at it, let’s highlight a Yankee fan’s dream: a 1-of-1 2018 Topps Stadium Club Co-Signers card featuring the autographs of both Judge and Derek Jeter. Graded PSA 10, it recently sold for $8,700 on 70 bids.
Market Update: Vintage cards holding strong while modern declines
If you’re not prepared to spend a four- or five-figure sum on Judge cards but still want a stash to hold, keep this in mind: You can build a nice collection of base-set and unsigned issues for prices under $5 or $10 each. That includes his 2013 Bowman card, the same one on which the aforementioned Refractors are based. We’ve seen examples of that card sell for just $6 —one ungraded and one graded GMA 9.
Just be careful as you peruse low-dollar Judge cards in listings on eBay or any of the countless smaller auction sites. A signed Judge card at a low-dollar amount should raise a red flag: It’s either a reprint or a digital card. Read the listing closely.
He’s been around the majors for two decades, so Pujols is featured on a far greater number of collectible items than Aaron Judge. In fact, he’s been a headliner in the hobby since 2001, when his first cards started landing in the marketplace.
You’ll see on our Top 10 chart that a Pujols “Future Watch” Gold card from Upper Deck’s 2001 SP Authentic set brought $40,300 on 58 bids on eBay last month. The auction closed five days before Pujols hit his 699th and 700th homers. One of only 50 made, the rarity carried a grade of SGC 9.5.
And you’ll see in our “On the Outside Looking In” chart (below) that a 2001 Bowman Chrome Refractor card of Pujols sold for $27,601 on 40 bids. It was graded BGS 9.
If you were to peruse other recently closed auctions on eBay, you’d find these prices paid for Pujols examples:
• $12,101 on 52 bids for a 2001 Bowman Chrome Refractor autographed and hand-marked #39/500.
• $6,000 on 60 bids for another Future Watch card from Upper Deck’s 2001 SP Authentic set. Unlike the Gold variation noted above, this more common version is marked #308/1,250. It was graded PSA 10.
• $5,655 on 45 bids for a 2001 Upper Deck Game-Used Edition card marked #490/500. Despite the name, the card does not include a piece of game-worn material. However, it was graded PSA 10 and, as the marking shows, is a rare rookie card.
• $3,901 on 6 bids for a 2001 Upper Deck SP Chirography card. This throwback-looking issue, presented horizontally, features a black-and-white ghosted image of Pujols in action with a large autograph next to him. It was graded PSA 10.
• $3,000 on 25 bids for a 2001 Bowman Autographs card graded BGS 9.5 with a 10 for the sig.
TOP 10 CHART
1. $45,100 on 80 bids: 2021-22 Topps Chrome (Soccer) Kylian Mbappé, auto (ungraded)
2. $42,550 on 55 bids: 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Rookie Ticket, auto (BGS 8.5, auto 10)
3. $40,300 on 58 bids: 2001 Upper Deck SP Authentic Albert Pujols Future Watch Gold, #5/50 (SGC 9.5)
4. $38,600 on 88 bids: 2018 Panini National Treasures Josh Allen, #57/99, auto patch (BGS 8)
5. $36,100 on 72 bids: 2004-05 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection Michael Jordan Enshrinement, #10/10, auto (PSA 10, auto 10)
6. $35,100 on 33 bids: 2021 Panini National Treasures Trey Lance Purple, #47/49, auto patch (PSA 10)
7. $34,200 on 108 bids: 2016 Bowman Chrome Juan Soto Gold Refractor, #4/50, auto (BGS 9.5, auto 10)
8. $33,766 on 55 bids: 2001 Heritage AutoProofs, signed 1951 Willie Mays, #1/25, auto (PSA 3.5)
9. $32,300 on 82 bids: 2019 Panini Select Justin Herbert XRC Gold, #/10, auto (PSA 10, auto 10)
10. $30,100 on 60 bids: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Refractor, #/500, auto (BGS 10, auto 10)
THE NEXT 10
• $30,100 on 40 bids: 2021-22 Topps Chrome (soccer) Kylian Mbappé, auto (ungraded)
• $27,601 on 40 bids: 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols Refractor (BGS 9, auto 10)
• $26,100 on 63 bids: 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle (PSA 5)
• $25,100 on 29 bids: 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids Tiger Woods (BGS 10)
• $23,410 on 33 bids: 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan (PSA 8.5)
• $23,100 on 66 bids: 2018 Panini National Treasures Josh Allen, #/99, auto patch (BGS 7.5, auto 10)
• $23,000 on 52 bids: 1998-99 Upper Deck Ionix Michael Jordan, #6/23, auto (BGS 9.4, auto 10)
• $22,450 on 5 bids: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 9)
• $22,322 on 52 bids: 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle (SGC 1)
• $20,122 on 36 bids: 2000 Fleer SPx Derek Jeter Winning Materials, #1/2, auto patch plus bat slice (PSA 9)