Way back in January 2020 — just before COVID disrupted all of us — we reported on the sale of an ungraded 2019 Bowman Chrome signed Superfractor card of Adley Rutschman for a shocking price: $23,088 on 94 bids.
It was a 1-of-1 card, so that helps account for the hefty figure. Even so, it was a jaw-dropping sale because Rutschman had exactly 130 at-bats in the low minor leagues at that point.
As we know, Rutschman was and is deemed a can’t-miss prospect. A 6-foot-2, 216-pound switch-hitting catcher, he starred at Oregon State from 2017-19 by hitting .352 with 28 HRs in 644 at-bats. After graduation that summer, he got his feet wet with three Baltimore Orioles farm teams but batted a pedestrian .254 with only three homers. However, he did make a splash for the Aberdeen IronBirds in the New York-Penn League (A-) by hitting .325 in 77 at-bats.
Also See: Aaron Judge rookie card sets record
The 2020 minor league season was a wipeout because of COVID, but Rutschman spent the 2021 season leaving Orioles fans hyperventilating. In 452 at-bats between AA and AAA, he hit .285 with 23 homers, 86 runs and 75 RBI. And he showed a great eye at the plate, drawing 79 walks. The stage was set for his fast-track MLB debut.
An injury delayed Rutschman’s 2022 start, but once he got going, he hit as expected (.309 in AAA ball). On May 21, the Orioles called him up and put him right in the lineup. Camden Yards fans actually gave him a standing ovation when he took the field. In the 7th inning, he recorded his first major league hit, a stand-up triple. He continued his solid start with three more hits on May 24-25 against the Yankees.
In the hobby, collectors were paying strong prices leading up to Rutschman’s promotion. In March, we saw a pair of 2019 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractors from a run of 50 sell for $8,900 (PSA 10) and $5,900 (BGS 9.5). They drew 40 and 31 bids, respectively. In April, another 2019 Chrome Gold Refractor graded BGS 9.5 sold for $4,495.
At this writing, eBay sellers have more than 10,000 Rutschman items listed. The do reflect a buzz, because most auction items are getting dozens of bids.
However — and here’s the twist — prices are somewhat modest outside of Rutschman’s 2019 Bowman Chrome limited-run Refractors. And even those had exceptions — like the 2019 Chrome Purple Refractor, one of 250, that sold for “only” $1,600 on 50 bids.
Consider these prices paid for signed Rutschman cards after his call-up (recognizing that all were produced after 2019):
• $178 on 27 bids for an ungraded 2021 Panini Optic Choice. Designed after a Donruss Rated Rookie, it was marked #45/99.
• $79 on 17 bids for an autographed 2020 Topps Pro Debut Gold card from a run of 50 and graded HGA 9.
• $42 on 14 bids for a signed, ungraded 2021 Leaf Metal Silver Wave card.
• $40 on 14 bids for a 2020 Bowman’s Best Die-Cut autographed card graded PSA 8. It was marked #75/100. The same card without an autograph has been selling for around $5.
So for now, prices are surprisingly friendly. But we’ll go out on a limb and say Rutschman prices at this writing will turn out to be the “eye of the storm” if he gets off to a hot start.
JOHNNY BENCH: BEST EVER?
If we’re adding to Rutschmania, how can we overlook Johnny Bench? He’s arguably the best backstop ever. Even Yankees fans, who put Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra in the conversation, have to admire Bench’s estimable career, especially if we grew up watching him play. He had a quick bat and crazy power, as his 389 homers reflect. And on defense, he won 10 Gold Gloves in 17 seasons. He also was named to 14 All-Star teams.
Bench’s first three Topps cards are classics. When you think about what we pay for rookie cards today, they’re a steal. Consider the following recent eBay sales.
1968 Topps Bench rookie:
• $1,607 on 22 bids for a PSA 8
• $1,485 on 39 bids for another PSA 8
• $1,001 on 25 bids for a PSA 9.
1969 Topps Bench:
• $984 on 28 bids for a PSA 8
• $936 on 35 bids for another PSA 8
• $932 on 23 bids for still another PSA 8
• $777 on 51 bids for an ungraded but exceptionally clean-looking example.
1970 Topps Bench:
• $787 on 28 bids for an ungraded but top-condition specimen from a set break.
• $646 on 41 bids for a PSA 8
• $556 on 42 bids for another PSA 8.
And what if you want one of these Bench prizes in Gem-Mint condition? In late 2021, Heritage Auctions sold two different PSA 10 specimens for $93,000 and $108,000. Just a year earlier, in late 2020, the same auction house sold PSA 10 Bench rookies for $26,400 and $33,600.
Meanwhile, a 1969 Bench graded 10 is going for around $10,000. A 1970 Gem-Mint Bench would set you back about $3,500.
You May Also Like: Why cards of female stars are a good investment