By Larry Canale
BIG O AND BIG ZERO
It’s not fair to compare anyone to Oscar Robertson, the NBA legend who averaged a triple-double in the 1961-62 season, accounting for 22.9 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists per game. “The Big O” came within .01 rebounds a game from accomplishing the same feat two years later, when he scored 31.4 points per game to go with 11.0 assists and 9.9 rebounds.
But for Russell Westbrook, comparisons to Robertson are inevitable even at this early juncture in the 2016-17 NBA season. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard, who wears No. 0 on his uniform, was averaging 31.2 points, 11.3 assists, and 10.5 rebounds per game through Nov. 30. Can he sustain those lofty levels over a long season? Time will tell. But for now, the 28-year-old is a regular on highlight films and is becoming a bigger deal to collectors. Consider these prices paid at eBay for recent Westbrook items:
• $4,000 for a 2008-09 Upper Deck Exquisite Collection autographed patch card (PSA 10).
• $2,500 and $2,100 for 2008-09 Topps Chrome Gold Refractors (both BGS 9.5).
• $1,450 and $1,425 for 2015-16 ungraded Immaculate Christmas Day logo patch cards (numbered 6 and 7 of 13); both bear pieces of the jersey Westbrook wore on Dec. 25, 2015.
And what about Oscar Robertson? The big score among his catalog of cards is his 1961-62 Fleer rookie. Two different PSA 8 specimens of that classic recently drew winning bids of $2,675 and $2,421. A Robertson card issued by Topps 10 years later, his 1971-72 issue, sold for $1,936, helped by its PSA 9 grade. And two different 1969-70 “tall” Robertson cards—both graded PSA 9 — brought prices of $1,425 (in November) and $1,275 (in September).
JOLTIN’ JOE MONTANA
In February 2016, we listed three PSA 10 Joe Montana rookie cards (from Topps’ 1981 set) that sold on eBay for prices between $10,000 and $11,000. Just a month later, in March, we reported on another PSA 10 example that brought $15,000. And in compiling this current Online Auctioneer installment, we watched still another gem-mint Montana rookie sell for $16,100, landing just outside our Top 10 chart.
The Hall of Fame QB’s rookie card is garnering more and more interest —no doubt from longtime football fans who remember his surgical precision as the NFL’s top quarterback of his day. Montana finished his career with 273 TDs and 40,551 yards in 15 years and led the 49ers to three Super Bowl championships. His record as a starting QB was 117-47 in the regular season and 16-7 in playoff competition.
If you’d rather not dole out five-figure prices for a Montana rookie, concentrate your search on slightly lower-grade examples. You’ll find a fairly healthy supply of PSA 8 Montana rooks selling for prices between $100 and $250. Drop to a PSA 7 example, and you’ll see plenty of examples selling for $75 to $125.
BABE PLUS THREE
The more the merrier? Not in the case of a baseball bearing the signature of Babe Ruth… and others. Amazingly, a baseball just outside our Top 10 list might have found its way to a higher position if it were signed only by the Bambino. As it is, the ball also has the sigs of three others: Edd Roush, Johnny Evers, and Grover Alexander. Even with Ruth on the sweet spot, and even with JSA authentication, the ball’s price settled at the relative bargain $13,020. Ruth-only baseballs in similar condition can easily surpass $20,000.
To those not “into” the hobby, it might not make sense. After all, the signers on the ball comprise a seemingly unrelated quartet—except that Alexander, Roush and Evers, like Ruth, are all Hall of Famers. A single-signed Ruth ball, however, is one of the memorabilia market’s holy grails, and collectors pay a premium for Babe-only baseballs.
Last time out, we lauded the brilliant play — and collectibles-market star power — of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. We would be remiss if we didn’t follow up with an item on Elliott’s partner in the Dallas backfield, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. Besides having one of the coolest names in football, Prescott has a winning touch, judging by his poised leadership during the Cowboys’ nine-game winning streak through November. His memorabilia is now pushing up to where Elliott’s is, value-wise — the QB premium in action.
Among the hotly pursued Prescott items is his 2016 Panini Impeccable autographed helmet patch card, limited to a run of 15. One of them, ungraded, brought $1,500 in mid-November. Two weeks earlier, three examples of the same card, also ungraded, got away for less than half that price when they sold for $712, $700 and $680. A few more wins and a playoff appearance will keep Prescott collectibles trending upward.