His collection of just over 200 perfect – or, Gem-Mint – cards certainly is the talk of the hobby. And also in many major league clubhouses.
Dmitri Young of the Washington Nationals is the proud owner of an amazing, multimillion dollar card collection.
He owns rookie baseball cards of such baseball Hall of Famers as Reggie Jackson, Roy Campanella, Ernie Banks, Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson and Harmon Killebrew, among others. The catch is, all of Young’s cards have been graded a 10, the best possible ranking given cards by California-based Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), the world’s largest third-party authentication service.
And PSA 10s are so rare, especially for vintage cards, that often there are only a few known to exist, maybe even just one. And often, Young owns that one.
“I’m as proud of this collection as I am of my children,” said Young, who was a card collector as a kid and vividly recalls his childhood cards of Dale Murphy, Bob Horner, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Don Mattingly, among others.
Though he no longer has his childhood relics, Young resumed collecting in 2000. He was at an offseason card show and the promoter gave him a 1963 Topps Pete Rose rookie card, graded an 8.
“I knew nothing about graded cards, but that’s where it started,” said Young,
In 2002, while playing for the Detroit Tigers, Young befriended Dave Bailey, a veteran Detroit-area card dealer. The two have since talked about trading cards for literally hours on end. Bailey has offered his professional tips and, in turn, the Young Collection truly is a team effort, they said.
“The Collection started taking off the day in early 2002 that (fellow former Detroit Tiger) Robert Fick introduced me to Dave Bailey; that’s when it became fun,” Young said. “My friendship with Dave has bloomed around trading cards. I now consider Dave one of my best friends.”
And also a business partner, sort of.
“Dave is my eyes and ears in the card business. He makes things a lot easier for me. He helps me get cards at a reasonable rate,” Young said.
Young speculates that his collection “definitely is worth a few million.” Especially considering the amount of exclusive cards, those ranked a Gem Mint 10.
Such as Clemente’s 1955 Topps card.
“On some of the cards, you really cannot put a value on the card because it’s the only one of its kind known to exist,” Young said.
Young owns the only PSA-10s for such stars as Jackson, Pete Rose, Al Kaline, Brooks Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Hoyt Wilhem, Carl Yastremski and others.
And it’s his Jackson PSA 10 that stands out the most to him.
“It was a card that we didn’t purchase as a 10,” Young said. “We found the card before it had been graded. It was, and is, just such an amazing-looking card. My jaw dropped when I saw it for the first time. It’s such an eye-grabbing, eye-catching card. It’s like looking at a piece of art.
“The card has a lot of meaning to me.”
Same for other cards, too. Such as Luis Aparicio’s 1956 Topps rookie. Young owned the card for three years before it finally earned the elusive PSA 10 mark.
So what’s left on Young’s wish list?
Plenty, he said, starting with Don Drysdale and Frank Robinson rookies, although a PSA 10 of either does not exist.
“The collection will be complete when there’s no more desire to add any more to it, yet I don’t know if that will ever happen,” Bailey said. “Our desire and drive is as strong as every, so ending the collection is a long time down the road.”
Bailey is in Chicago, along with The Young Collection, at the 29th National Sports Collectors Convention, held July 30 to Aug. 3 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in suburban Rosemont.
Young said his teammates and foes are very impressed with his collection, especially coaches, who often remember owning the same card years ago – usually until they put it in their bicycle spokes.
“Everyone collected baseball cards growing up, but to see the condition the cards that I have mine in, well, no one can believe it,” Young said. “The cards are my hobby, my passion. So, to me, the cards are truly priceless.”
Ultimately, the collection will be handed down to his children: Owen, Damon and Layle. But not until they hit 30. “If I give the collection to them at 21, they might sell it for beer money,” he said, laughing.
Added Bailey: “Some people might look at and question Dmitri for buying up all of these high-priced cards because, well, he can afford them, and yet think he is not a true collector. But that’s as far from the truth as possible,” Bailey said. “He really has a passion for the collection and is very, very knowledgeable. He’s as knowledgeable as any card dealer out there.”by for him.
“I was collecting before I had money; this is something I was just doing as a kid,” Young said. “I’ve earned the money playing baseball to be able to buy whatever cards I want.”
Dave Bailey can be reached about The Dmitri Young collection at email@example.com.