A Response to the “Collector” Who Think “Sports Cards are Worthless!”

I am the dasher of dreams.  Truly, that is who I am.  I see a lot of folks in their 20’s – 30’s who bring in their collections unannounced.  Boxes full of 1988 Donruss Baseball, 1991 Score Football, 1990 Topps Hockey, you get the idea.  Stuff they collected.  Stuff their grandparents left them. Stuff they found in a house cleanout.  All in perfect condition and oh so worthless. I hate to break it to these “collectors who just want to get rid of it” that no one in the hobby is buying or selling cards from the “Steroid Era”.   Invariably the next question I hear is, “Are all Sports cards worthless?”  Yes.  All cards are worthless.  Class dismissed.  Of course not!  I am not going to go into what makes a card desirable in this article, suffice it to say, that certain parts of the hobby are still very strong and that all cards are not worthless. Most notably, Rookie Cards of the greatest players who ever graced bubble gum cards.  I have set up a chart to show you how strong the market has been in 2008, 2012 & 2016.  The prices listed are the average realized auction prices for that year.

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2008 2012 2016
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 5 EX $20,000.00 $15,000.00 $57,000.00
1952 Topps Mickey Mantle PSA 8 NM/MT $100,000.00 $250,000.00 $500,000.00
1993 SP Derek Jeter PSA 8 NM/MT $90.00 $150.00
1993 SP Derek Jeter PSA 9 MINT $900.00 $1,500.00



How did a Mickey Mantle Rookie do from 2008 to 2016?  A 1952 Topps Mantle PSA 5  Rookie card went from $20,000.00 in 2008 to $57,000.00 in 2016.  An 185% increase.  But that is nothing. A 1952 Topps Mantle PSA 8 card went from $100k in 2008 to $500k in 2016, a whopping 400% rise.

Derek Jeter’s best Rookie card 1993 SP grew 66% from 2012 to 2016 in both NM/MT and MINT condition.

How did a 1986 Fleer Micheal Jordan Rookie do?  Pretty darn well.  Over eight years,  Jordan climbed 280%  as a NM/MT card.  A PSA 9 Jordan rookie did even better.  Back in 2008, Jordan PSA 9 sold for $1000.00.  Today, $5,500.00.  That is a 450% increase on an 8 year investment.  Bill Russell’s rookie made for a pretty good investment, too. A PSA 8 NM/MT card would have netted you a superb $26,000.00 profit over that 8 year period.

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2008 2012 2016
1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan PSA 8 NM/MT $550.00 $700.00 $2,100.00
1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan PSA 9 MINT $1,000.00 $1,500.00 $5,500.00
1957-58 Topps Bill Russell PSA 5 EX $700.00 $875.00 $2,200.00
1957-58 Topps Bill Russell PSA 8 NM/MT $8,000.00 $8,200.00 $32,000.00


Let’s keep going. Football was no stranger to spectacular growth.  A 1965 Topps Joe Namath PSA 7 NM card back during the Great Recession of 2008 sold for a $2100.00.  It actually dipped four years later to $1800.00.  Today, a NM Joe Namath is worth $5500.00, a 160% increase. If you were willing to dish out $6000.00 for a PSA 8 NM/MT card back in 2008, that same card is worth $32,000.00.  A 433%price explosion.  Peyton Manning, one of today’s great players also made a good investment, doubling in price for a PSA 10 Gem MINT 1998 SP Authentic card in a mere four years.

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2008 2012 2016
1965 Topps Joe Namath PSA 7 NM $2,100.00 $1,800.00 $5,500.00
1965 Topps Joe Namath PSA 8 NM/MT $6,000.00 $5,900.00 $32,000.00
1998 SP Peyton Manning PSA 9 MINT $700.00 $800.00
1998 SP Peyton Manning PSA 10 Gem MINT $1,750.00 $4,000.00



Wayne Gretzky’s top Rookie is the 1979 O-Pee-Chee version, made in Canada. It is near impossible to find a PSA 9 or 10 version of this card so let’s look at a PSA 7 NM and a PSA 8 NM/MT Rookie card.  If you had bought both cards back in 2008 for $1200.00, that investment today would be worth $5700.00. That is a lot better investment than gold which went $900.00 to $1250.00 in the same time period.  Bobby Orr also rose in price. His 1966 Topps PSA 5 card doubled in value in that 8 year window.  His PSA 7 NM graded card nearly tripled in price.

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  2008 2012 2016
1979-80 OPC Wayne Gretzky PSA 7 NM $350.00 $600.00 $1,200.00
1979-80 OPC Wayne Gretzky PSA 8 NM/MT $850.00 $1,300.00 $4,500.00
1966-67 Topps Bobby Orr PSA 5 EX $1,200.00 $2,000.00 $2,400.00
1966-67 Topps Bobby Orr PSA 7 NM $3,100.00 $3,800.00 $8,000.00


So yes, the card business has been a disaster to all those “collectors” who bought off Shop At Home or went to their local card show and bought cases upon cases of wax from the late ’80s.  Smart collectors who cherry picked the top players in the hobby and purchased only the nicer condition cards were not hurt by the Recession and in fact, did exceptionally well.

If people keep coming in with their 1990s cards, I will continue to be the dasher of dreams. I truly do not like playing that role.  It is much more fun to tell someone that their Joe Namath Rookie card is worth $32,000.00!!  It can happen.  The market for certain cards is still crazy strong.

If you have cards you need appraised,  graded, or want an offer for your collection, please do not hesitate to give us a call. 617-482-5705

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