How The Sports Cards Market Exploded in Value

Ever since the start of the pandemic, many people have looked for new hobbies and new things to get themselves into. It was clear from the start that one of those things benefiting from these newfound hobbies was sports cards. The price of the overall market slowly crept higher and higher.

Big Explosion of Vintage Cards

yankeesOne of the biggest sports cards markets has always been classic baseball cards. Now, we are seeing a ridiculous price hike in these cards. Recently, a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card, in pristine condition, sold for over $5.2 million. This destroyed the previous record for the highest-selling card at $3.9 million, which was held by a 2009 Mike Trout signed rookie card.

Another example of this is a Willie Mays 1955 Topps card. Previously, a grade of 7 was fetching not even $1,000 in 2016-2017. Now, those same 7’s are going for $2,000-$4,000 in 2021. This kind of rise, this quickly, has just about never been seen before in the card industry.

Even old basketball cards are starting to become more and more valuable. Previously, in just the past few months, Michael Jordan’s rookie cards were selling around the $200k mark, but only a few weeks later, those same graded cards are selling for over $700k. Just this past month, a 1997 Michael Jordan card sold for $1.4 million in an auction.

New Era

Lebron JamesOne player that has also seen a seismic rise in the value of cards is Lebron James. According to the New York Times, his rare one-of-a-kind cards have 5x-10x in value over just the past five years. Recently, a rare card of Lebron James sold for $1.8 million.

As mentioned before, the previous record for a card sold was a Mike Trout signed rookie card from 2009. Mike Trout’s cards continue to rise in value. Many of the top versions of Mike Trout’s rookie cards are now in the $20,000-$100,000 range of value.

How to Get a Card Graded

One thing you will want to familiarize yourself with if you are looking to buy or sell trading cards is the entity Professional Sports Authenticator, also known as PSA. This California-based company is the backbone of the sports card market. Without a PSA rating, you have no idea if the card is legitimate or what it is worth.

PSA currently charges anywhere between $10-$500 a card for grading most cards. However, once you get into the $20,000+ range of prices for a card, the cost to grade skyrockets to $1,000-$5,000 a card. This is a crucial part of making your trading card worth something.

Will the Market Last?

This has yet to be determined. The market almost seems like a bubble with how fast the value has been rising during quarantine. It is very easy to make the argument that since nobody has anything better to do, collecting sports cards has landed at the forefront of many people’s minds. As things begin to re-open and life returns to normal, it is unknown what will happen to the market.

While I do not foresee a hard crash anytime soon, that does not mean that the market will continue its incredible growth rate or even keep positive growth.

Matthew is a UC Berkeley economic and philosophy graduate. He has played DFS, Football pools, and survival leagues for most of his adult life. Matthew brings to the table great strategies for both your GPP and Cash plays as well as a winning track record with his picks of the week.

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