Demand differs for trading cards of New York outfielders

Yankee Aaron Judge is getting more love from the media and the collectibles market, but across town, Michael Conforto of the Mets is putting up similar numbers. Conforto has been a revelation as the Mets’ leadoff man; through May, he was hitting .318 with 13 homers, 36 runs and 33 RBI. Judge was slightly ahead in those stat categories: .323, 17 homers, 37 runs and 39 RBI.

Early indications are that both the Mets and Yankees have developed rock-solid building blocks—and have given us a new-generation Mantle vs. Mays argument.

As for hot cards tied to these two stars, we reported last time out on a Judge-signed 2013 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor that sold for $9,000. In a one-week period in May, we saw three more 2013 Bowman Chrome Refractors sell at prices that were far lower but that stabilized within $75 of each other: $3,624 for the Purple and $3,600 and $3,552 for the Blacks. All were graded BGS 9.5, with a 10 for the sig.

By comparison, Conforto is a bargain—none of his memorabilia items pushed into four figures. One, however, got close: A 2014 autographed Bowman Chrome Blue Refractor card (graded BGS 10 with a 10 for the sig) brought $928. Two other Blue Refractors of the same card, both graded BGS 10/10, got away for $715 and $700, while a Green Refractor Bowman Chrome (PSA 10) fetched $698.

We don’t think, however, that this New York/New York story will be ending anytime soon. At ages 24 (Conforto) and 25 (Judge), these breakthrough stars are poised to remain front and center for the next decade or so. Watch the speculative buying continue to kick in.

BUY ME SOME PEANUTS AND…

It didn’t make our Top 10 chart because it wasn’t a single item or a single complete set, but it’s worth some ink here: A collector parted ways with a lot of 101 PSA-graded 1914 Cracker Jack (E145) baseball cards, earning a cool $40,000.

The lot included all kinds of stars of the day, from top batsmen (Nap Lajoie, Eddie Collins, Rabbit Maranville, Zack Wheat) to stud pitchers (Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown, Chief Bender) to savvy managers (Connie Mack, John J. McGraw, Hugh Jennings).

There were also more obscure names that baseball historians love—among them Chick Gandil (a first basemen who hit .277 over nine seasons) and George Suggs (who had a 99-91 record and 3.11 ERA over eight seasons).

Alas, there was no Joe Jackson, no Honus Wagner, no Walter Johnson, but you can’t have everything. Ultimately, the collection of 101 cards provided well more than a head start on the set’s 144 cards. These classics originally came packaged in boxes of that standard baseball-fan snack, Cracker Jack, and thus were prone to staining. However, their size (they measure 2 ¼ x 3 inches, larger than most of the era’s candy and tobacco cards) and their sheer visual impact (the bright red background behind every player illustration made for an eye-catching design) have made them a long-popular set among vintage-card collectors.

HOCKEY HEAVEN

A rare 1923 Paterson Howie Morenz card landed in our Top 10, thanks to a $22,000 sale. Another hockey card, meanwhile, landed just outside our list when a 1958-59 Topps Bobby Hull card fetched $19,000.

Graded PSA 7, the Hull card pictures the Chicago Blackhawk great as a mere teen coming off a promising rookie season (13 goals, 34 assists). As the card’s somewhat awkward text on the flip-side reads, “Only 18 when he joined Hawks last year, Bobby is blond husky of brilliant promise.” (Shouldn’t it be “husky blond”?) The card text also pointed out that “Bobby quit high school grid [football] team to play big league hockey.”

TOMMY BOY

We may be midway between the Super Bowl and the start of a new season, but collectors aren’t losing track of Tom “Five Rings” Brady. The case of his missing Super Bowl jersey, of course, helped keep him in the limelight through April, when the culprit was discovered, thanks to the FBI and a 19-year-old Seattle-based collector who bought a jersey from the thief. (The two traded photos of their collections, and an earlier Brady Super Bowl jersey in the thief’s photo stood out to the young collector, who tipped off officials.)

On eBay, interest in Brady continued through late spring. One collector, for example, spent $19,101 on May 18 for a 2000 Playoff Contenders autographed Rookie Ticket card graded PSA 9. Two days later, a 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket card numbered 10/100 sold for $17,400.

Plus, an ungraded 1-of-1 2015 Panini Luxe Brady-signed patch card sold for $12,121. And drawing $9,000 each were a pair of 2000 Bowman Chrome Refractor rookie cards of Brady, one graded PSA 9, the other one a BGS 9.5. And to think: Training camp is still weeks away.

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