By Larry Canale
Leading up to the Super Bowl Tom Brady memorabilia was already red-hot. Despite Brady and the New England Patriots losing the Super Bowl, expect the market for Brady memorabilia to remain strong.
Brady is totally ruining that long-favorite debate among football fans: Who’s the best QB of all time? Those of us who in the past threw around names like Unitas, Montana, Baugh, Graham, Manning, the Packers trio of Starr, Favre and Rodgers, Elway, Marino, Young, Brees and others have a hard time arguing any more. Thanks a lot, Tom.
Brady’s got five Super Bowl rings (and counting?). Only Starr could say he won that many championships—three NFL titles and the first two Super Bowls. Stats? One more typical season for Brady will jettison him past Brees, Favre and Manning in career passing yards. Plus, he’ll pass Favre’s total of 508 TD passes next season and Manning’s 539 the year after.
In just the past two years, his collectibles have gone from brisk to bustling. In 2015, his two most popular cards—2000 Playoff Contenders autographed Rookie Ticket and 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic—were selling for half of what they get now. His autograph, too, is on the rise. You want a Brady-signed football? You’ll pay between $1,200 and $1,500. Even signed Brady trading cards from the middle and later parts of his career can get into four figures.
The good news is that if you want to add to (or start) your Brady collection without breaking the bank, there are a lot more choices these days. Two years ago this week, there were 21,891 Brady listings at eBay. This year, there are 31,205—almost 10,000 more. Take a look and you’ll find some gems.
For example, here’s a trio of worthy Brady items offered at Buy-It-Now prices between $30 and $150:
• $100 to $150: 2000 Fleer Ultra. This Brady rookie card, #234 in the set, pictures the QB in his college days, wearing No. 10 for the Michigan Wolverines. The price range shown above is for cards in 8 or 9 condition.
• $90 to $100: 2000 SkyBox Dominion. Brady appears on this card with Giovanni Carmazzi, one of six QBs selected ahead of him in the 2000 draft. After starring at Hofstra, Carmazzi went to the 49ers, who had lost Steve Young to retirement and were hoping for a longer-term option than Jeff Garcia. The 49ers had invested in Jim Druckenmiller three years earlier, but he didn’t pan out. Neither did Carmazzi, who spent two years on the team’s practice squad and later played in the Canadian Football League. In 2016, Carmazzi described himself as a “yoga-practicing [goat] farmer” in California. But… he’s also immortalized by his presence on Brady’s SkyBox Dominion rookie.
• $30 to $80: 2000 Fleer Tradition “Rookies to Watch.” On this prescient card, Brady shares space with tight end Dave Stachelski. The reverse of the card reads, “Tom does not have all the physical attributes scouts look for in quarterbacks; all he does is win.” Brady’s card-mate, Stachelski, had a quite different career: He never played for the Patriots but spent parts of two seasons with the Saints, catching one pass for a five-yard gain. But what a thrill it must be to have made The Show—and to share a card with Brady.
Actually, his nickname was The Iron Horse, but Lou Gehrig had the kind of swing—per those grainy old black-and-white films—that can be described as “sweet.” He spent most of his career playing second fiddle to the mighty Babe Ruth, but Gehrig was a dominant player in his own right. On any other team, he would have stolen the spotlight all to himself. Just look at those stats: a .340 career average, 493 homers, 1,888 runs and gobs of RBI: 1,995 total. He led the AL in RBI five times, including back-to-back seasons of 173 and 185 (1931 and 1932). In World Series play, he hit .361 with 10 HRs in 150 at-bats. And don’t forget: He didn’t have Ruth hitting behind him; Gehrig typically batted behind Ruth, meaning opposing hurlers couldn’t pitch around the Babe.
We bring up Gehrig because in late January, a beautiful example of a single-signed baseball turned up at auction and drew 77 bids, ultimately selling for $12,100. Even though the ball shows signs of having been tossed around a sandlot, it’s still in decent shape (see photograph) for an item that’s nearly 100 years old. As such, it’s somewhat of a bargain: We’ve seen Gehrig singled-signed baseballs sell for upwards of $50,000, including one particularly impressive example that brought $64,725 at Heritage Auctions in 2013. So it’s not surprising that this one drew a bidding war.
SWEET LOU II
Well, Lou Brock wasn’t known as “Sweet Lou,” either. But again, that effortless lefty swing, his base-stealing acumen and his graceful play in left field for the St. Louis Cardinals for 16 years certainly made him worthy of that nickname. Brock, who also spent three years with the Cubs, was a record-setting thief on the diamond, swiping a then-record 118 bases in 1974 and finishing his career in 1979 with a then-record 938 steals. A .293 lifetime hitter, Brock was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.
Because collectors tend to value sluggers more than base-stealers, Brock has been underappreciated in the hobby. Yet his rookie card, a 1962 Topps, recently sold in PSA 9 condition for $8,200 on 30 bids. And a PSA 9 example of his colorful 1969 card went even higher, selling for $8,500.
Cards aside, a particularly fun Brock-related collectible would be, naturally, sneakers. In recent months, we saw two pairs of vintage Converse Lou Brock Player L/T sneakers sell. They weren’t used or owned by Brock; they were simply Brock-endorsed products:
• A pair of high-top Brock Cons sold for $510, despite being pre-owned and in “gently” used condition.
• In better condition was a pair of low-cut Brock Player L/Ts still in their original box. Dating to the 1970s, they sold for $710.