Is there ever a bad time to remember Jackie Robinson? The legendary Dodgers infielder broke baseball’s color barrier 71 seasons ago, in 1947—he was already 28 at the time—and went on to hit, run, and field his way into the Hall of Fame. His career average over 10 seasons was .311, and he stole 197 bases to go with 137 homers.
In mid-June, an eBay seller listed a beautifully clean version of Jackie’s 1952 Topps card, which features an engaging color portrait and stats that reflected his stellar 1951 season (.338, 19 homers, 106 runs, 88 RBI). The card, a PSA 8, attracted 53 bids and sold for $16,301.
HOLY HOCKEY GRAIL!
A holy grail among hockey collectors topped our chart this time out, selling for $46,100 on 55 bids. It had been graded PSA 8 (Near-Mint/Mint). The card? A 1951 Parkhurst Gordon Howe—“Gordie,” as sports fans know him. It’s a jewel of the Hobby; even in lesser condition, it’s one we want. In April, for example, a 1951 “Parkie” of Howe in PSA 3.5 condition sold for $3,002 on 37 bids.
Fans of Gordie Howe got to see him play a long, long career. Howe spent 26 seasons in the NHL and another six in the WHA. In fact, he didn’t retire until he was 51, finishing his career by playing 81 games in the NHL for the Hartford Whalers. Perhaps amazingly (but not surprisingly), he netted 15 goals that year to go with 26 assists.
Parkhurst’s ’51 Howe card features a color illustration on the front along, with the right-winger “skating” toward the camera, stick on ice. Underneath the photo, Parkhurst printed in black his team affiliation (Detroit Red Wings), his background basics (born March 31, 1928 in Flora, Saskatchewan) and some brief statistics. The latter lines tell us that he piled up 86 points in 1951 (43 goals and 43 assists) and spent 74 minutes in the penalty box. The reverse of the card is blank. Printed along the bottom: “No. 66 in the ‘Parkie’ 1951-52 Hockey series.”
Gordie Howe, as you may recall, died two years ago (June 10, 2016) at age 88.
An unopened case of 12 wax boxes of vintage Fleer basketball cards was a virtual magnet on eBay in June, drawing 66 bids and a selling price of $15,250. No, it wasn’t a case of cards from Fleer’s fabled 1986-87 set, home of Michael Jordan’s rookie card. Rather, it was the 1988-89 hoop set. So what treasures might be awaiting the buyer of that case?
Well, considering that the NBA of that era was brimming with future Hall of Famers, the case would include all sorts of hoops legends. The big ones: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and, of course, Michael Jordan, as featured on his third-year card. The Bird and Magic cards can sell for a few hundred dollars if in 9 condition; the Jordan can eclipse the $1,000 mark. With only 132 cards in the series, they should be plentiful. There also could be “Super Star Sticker” cards of these legends. In June, a Jordan 1988-89 sticker graded PSA 10 sold for $22,000 by itself. So… the price of the unopened case is understandable.
The 1988-89 Fleer set also included Charles Barkley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone, along with rookie cards of John Stockton (a regular card and an All-Star card), Reggie Miller, Scottie Pippin and Dennis Rodman. Super Star Sticker cards (a subset of 11) included not only Jordan but Bird, Magic, Karl Malone, Kevin McHale, Dominique Wilkins and Clyde “The Glide” Drexler.
THE GOLDEN ARM
Any vintage football collection should include the 1957 rookie card of John Unitas, the great Baltimore Colts QB. It’s a classic of our hobby, offering a dual-photo design (smiling portrait along with posed action shot), quick-hit stats on the reverse (he had only nine TD passes in his rookie season, 1956, along with 110 completions in 198 attempts); and an early info-graphic cartoon (“John became top Colt passer after being cut by the Steelers…”).
In June, eBay seller PWCC offered a PSA 8 specimen of Unitas’s rookie. It almost looks under-graded, judging by the listing’s photo: The card is sharp, centered, and clean (although it can be difficult to see imperfections in an image). Regardless, it attracted 28 bids and sold for $14,667.
Interestingly, in April, the same seller offered another PSA 8 Unitas rookie and got only $6,599. The same month, a different seller listed a PSA 8 Unitas rook and took $5,000 in a Buy It Now deal. Clearly, Johnny U.’s stock has been rising since then… but who knows why?
ON THE OUTSIDE
Looking in on our Top 10 chart were these big prices paid for highly sought cards. Note that there are three more Mike Trout items to go with the four in our Top 10. Trout-mania is alive and well.
• $22,322: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Refractor auto (BGS 10, auto 10)
• $20,700: 1999 Upper Deck Encore Kobe Bryant Game Jersey auto patch OA-(PSA 10)
• $20,600: 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan (PSA 10)
• $18,655: 1997-98 UD3 Michael Jordan Season Ticket Autographs (BGS 8.5, auto 9)
• $18,600: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Refractor auto (PSA 10)
• $18,599: 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Refractor auto (PSA 10)
• $18,211: 2007-08 Topps Chrome Kevin Durant White Refractor (PSA 10)
• $18,200: 1984-85 Star Michael Jordan (BGS 9)
A MINI, BY GEORGE!
George Brett’s rookie card, a 1975 Topps, is desirable enough; two sold in PSA 9 condition for $2,000 and $1,725 in separate auctions last month. The smaller-sized version of the card—the famed 1975 Topps Mini—is hard to find, especially in Mint condition. When a top-condition specimen of the Mini turns up, it turns heads and can sell for knockout prices.
In mid-June, just such a listing illustrated our point. A 1975 Brett Topps Mini graded PSA 10 drew 46 bids and sold for $17,198. Conversely, you can find Brett Minis in PSA 8 and lower condition for a few hundred dollars. That “10” is magical, especially when it involves a Hall of Famer. Brett played 21 seasons, all for the Kansas City Royals, and batted .305 with 317 homers and 201 steals.