By Larry Canale
It’s hard to believe Robinson Cano is in his mid-30s (he turns 34 in October); it seems like only yesterday that he was a fresh-faced rookie playing alongside Derek Jeter for the New York Yankees. But he’s now in his 13th season and has amassed 2,297 hits with a .305 batting average and 295 homers (plus eight more HRs in post-season play).
And now he adds a game-winning All-Star Game homer, having blasted a Wade Davis pitch into the right-field seats on July 11 to win the 2017 interleague exhibition.
Cano’s excellence combined with relatively affordable memorabilia prices makes him an inviting subject for baseball collectors. In recent weeks, bats signed by Cano have sold at “steal” prices. One game-used example that came with MLB Authentic provenance went to a bidder for just $360, and several game-model bats have sold for prices between $115 and $200—all with PSA/DNA authentication.
The supply of Cano-signed baseballs is healthy enough that you can pick up an authenticated example for prices as low as $30 to $50—amazing considering his “future-Hall-of-Famer” credentials.
In the area of cards, the biggest prices in recent weeks have gone to two PSA 10 examples of his 2003 Bowman Heritage “Sign of Greatness” issue. One specimen of the autographed card brought $1,802 on 27 bids, while another fetched $1,700 in a Buy It Now deal. The “10” grade is, as always, huge: PSA 9 or BGS 9 examples of the same card are selling for prices between $175 and $225.
There are all kinds of other affordable but appealing Cano cards out there. A 2003 Topps Chrome Xfractor—produced in an edition of only 25—got away for $500 in early June, for example, and a 2010 Topps Sterling Bat Barrel autographed card with patch booklet went for just $376. And a PSA 9 example of Cano’s 2003 Bowman Heritage card sold for the bargain-basement price of $10. At similar prices, you can pick up an impressive run of Topps Heritage Cano cards designed after classic 1960s-era Topps sets.
CRAZY LIKE A FOXX
You don’t hear his name bandied about with the Ruths and Mantles and Mayses and Williamses, but… Jimmie Foxx was a beast of a baseball player. In fact, that was his nickname: The Beast. The son of farmers, Foxx was born in 1907 in Maryland and grew up playing baseball and soccer and running track. His athleticism led him to the major leagues, where he debuted with the Philadelphia Athletics at age 17 in 1925. In 10 games that season, he had six hits in nine at-bats (.667), a hint of things to come.
Over the next 19 seasons, he was crazy-productive, hitting .325 with 534 homers and 1,922 RBI. The first-baseman’s best seasons included 1932, when he hit 58 homers with 169 RBI and a .364 average, and 1933, when he hit 48 homers with 163 RBI and a .356 average.
Foxx was elected to nine All-Star games and won three MVP awards (in both 1932 and 1933—see above—and in 1938, when he drove in 175 runs with 50 homers and a .349 average). The Hall of Fame inducted him in 1951.
We’re reminded of Foxx because of the sale on eBay of a top-grade example of his 1933 Goudey card. Slabbed with a PSA 8/NM-MT grade, the card reeled in $17,355 on 24 bids.
Note that this highly sought issue spells Foxx’s first name as “Jimmy.” The card’s reverse side notes that Foxx was “the player who’s giving Babe Ruth a battle for the title of Home Run King.” In fact, Foxx out-homered Ruth in both 1932 and 1933, and won two more AL HR titles in later years (1935 and 1939), after Ruth left the Yankees.
More Foxx memorabilia: A couple of rough-condition signed baseballs with faded Foxx autographs recently sold on eBay for prices between $1,500 and $3,000. A nice, clean Foxx sig displayed on a 2008 Donruss Playoff Prime Cuts card sold in June for $1,315. And even nicer (and less expensive) was a beautiful 1941 Red Sox-issued Foxx-signed photograph that went for $1,200.
THE FIVE-FIGURE ROGER WEHRLI CARD
Here’s a name you haven’t seen in this space: Roger Wehrli. We meant to give him some ink last time out but ran out of space, so we’ll catch up here. Some 39 bids pushed the price of a PSA 10 Gem Mint 1971 Topps card of Wehrli to $16,000 in early June. Ungraded, it’s a $10 to $25 card, and if graded PSA 8, it sells for around $75. We did see a PSA 9 version sell for $1,095, but the jump to $16,000 is eye-popping.
The card has appeal because it’s Wehrli’s rookie issue. As fans of football history know, Wehrli was a top-notch defensive back for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1969 through 1982. In his 14-year career, the strong safety picked off 40 passes, returning two for touchdowns, recovered 22 fumbles, averaged 7.4 yards on punt returns and played in seven Pro Bowl games. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
PS: JUDGE STILL RISING
We promised ourselves we’d avoid mentioning Aaron Judge in this installment, but… how can we resist? The man ended the first half of his landmark rookie season with another home run binge. He went into the All-Star Game with an even 30, plus a nice, round .330 average. And then he put on a show in MLB’s Home Run Derby, hitting 47 bombs to win the event.
A week before the All-Star break, a bidding war erupted on a 2013 Bowman Chrome Purple Refractor autographed Judge card graded BGS 9.5. The price, after 44 bids, landed at $14,655. Compare that to the $8,975 we reported for a Purple Refractor in this space last time.
At this rate, we may soon see a Judge Purple Refractor push $20,000—maybe by the time we’re writing our next installment.