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Collectors are taking notice of Mookie Betts and the MVP season he had

The quest for a World Series title brings out the best in players and teams, and Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox has taken that to another level.

By Larry Canale

Is there a more well-rounded player in baseball than Mookie Betts? The Red Sox outfielder hit a robust .346 with 32 homers, 30 steals and 129 runs scored this season in leading Boston into the playoffs. And at age 26, he’s just entering his prime.

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The collector market has seemed a little behind the curve on Mookie memorabilia, but his clutch late-season hitting and first batting title (his .346 led all major leaguers) are putting him in demand. Examples of recent prices paid at eBay for Mookie items:

• $8,200 on 26 bids for a 2014 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor. Graded BGS 9.5.

• $7,566 on 21 bids for a 2015 signed game-used 1975 throwback Red Sox jersey authenticated by MLB.

• $4,550 on 36 bids for a 2014 Bowman Chrome Orange Refractor, this one also graded BGS 9.5.

In the “dream on” department, we’ll note that one seller has listed a 2014 Chrome signed Superfractor for $150,000. It’s a 1-of-1 issue, but still—there’s one zero too many in that price, roughly speaking. By way of a comparison, a 2010 Bowman Platinum signed Mike Trout card graded PSA 9 sold for $32,000 recently.

ALL RISE

Where there’s a Red Sox mention, we have the inexplicable desire to feature a Yankee, too. So let’s check in on that linebacker disguised as an outfielder, Aaron Judge. His numbers this year (27 HRs, 67 RBI, .278) were quite a bit off from those of last year (52 HRs, 114 RBI, .284). The primary reason: an injury that cost Judge around a month of play.

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But the “offseason” (such as it is) hasn’t stopped fans from paying hulking prices for Judge mementos. Three examples:

• $15,000 in a Buy It Now deal for a 2013 Bowman Chrome autographed Orange Refractor graded PSA 10.

• $13,501 on 34 bids for 2013 Chrome signed Blue Refractor graded BGS 9.5.

• $8,500 in a Buy It Now deal for an ungraded 1-of-1 signed 2017 Chrome Superfractor card. 

BAEZ BREAKOUT

The Cubs made an early exit from the playoffs, losing the National League Wild Card game on Oct. 2. But as the dust of the 2018 season settles, the team can take pride in the breakout performance of Javier Baez.

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The versatile five-tool star has been a bubbling-under, can’t-miss prospect for a few years, ever since suffering through a tough rookie season in 2014, when he hit an anemic .169. But this season, at age 25, Baez came into his own, batting .290 with 40 doubles, nine triples, 34 HRs, 21 steals and a league-leading 111 RBI. 

Perhaps the slow start to his MLB career cooled off Baez in the collectibles market, but that should change soon. For now, you’ll find some bargains. We’re partial to his 2017 autographed Heritage card, designed after Topps’ 1968 “burlap border” set. You’ll find examples of that one, signed in red ink, for prices between $150 and $230.

Then there’s Baez’s 2011 Bowman Chrome Refractor card, which is gaining steam. Lately, it’s been pushing four figures and, sometimes (if an Orange Refractor), exceeding four figures. Shown here is a Chrome Gold Refractor that sold for $960.

BIG TRAIN

Thirty-four bidders pushed the price of a 1919 T204 Ramley card of Walter Johnson to $13,811. The card was in amazingly clean condition (PSA 5) considering its age. The card, from a set of 121, originally would have been issued in a pack of Ramley Turkish Cigarettes. The cards measured 2 by 2.5 inches and were unnumbered. The design stands out because of the ornate gold borders surrounding a black-and-white oval player portrait. 

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In 1909, Johnson—a.k.a. “The Big Train”—had a tough season, posting a 13-25 record despite a sparkling 2.22 ERA. His fortunes changed quickly, though: He turned those 25 losses into 25 wins in both 1910 and 1911, posting records of 25-17 and 25-13. Johnson would pitch in the majors through 1927, compiling a 417-279 record with an unfathomable 2.17 ERA.

AND IF YOU WANT SOME FUN… THE BEATLES!

Our readers dig vintage sports memorabilia from the 1960s and earlier, so we’re betting a lot of you also dig the Beatles. And because we occasionally slip in a non-sports item, why not the Fab Four? 

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Topps issued Beatles trading cards in the 1960s, and because kids played with and traded them so freely (even more so than baseball cards, we’d bet!), it’s rare to find them in Gem-Mint condition. However, eBay seller Probstein123 recently sold five different PSA-10-graded 1964 color Beatles cards at the Buy It Now price of $810. The five came from the color set of 64; you can sometimes find them in ungraded but excellent condition for $100 to $200.

The Gem-Mint 10 listings included:

• No. 5 (which pictures all four Beatles in a beach scene)

• No. 8 (Paul McCartney playing bass)

• No. 32 (John Lennon and Ringo Starr talking to a dog)

• No. 36 (Lennon and George Harrison taking a bow on stage)

• No. 54 (McCartney and Starr performing) 

Two other sellers, by the way, auctioned off unopened single wax packs from Topps’ 1964 color Beatles set and got prices of $305 (graded PSA 8) and $300 (ungraded).

Auction of the Week

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Collect Auctions Summer Auction

Collect Auctions bidding ends August 6 and bidders can view each lot on our website at www.collectauctions.net. There are more than 1,000 lots of vintage sports cards and sets; what we believe is the strongest unopened lineup any auction house has ever offered. Bidding ends Thursday, August 6 at 9:00 p.m. CST (10:00 EST).