On The Square

In a League of Their Own: Sports Memorabilia at Auction

By Bidsquare

Nov 01,2022 | 15:00 EDT

Sports Memorabilia at auction is having a moment. Just this summer, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle baseball card knocked previous records out of the park when it fetched $12.6 million in Heritage Auctions July sale. On Bidsquare, sports memorabilia auctions have also seen their fair share of slam dunks across the auction block with results that reflect anything but a rookie season. 

We're looking back on our favorite all-star auction items, starting with a (newly single) someone who continues to attract media attention.

Tom Brady Championship Autograph Rookie Ticket Card

Sold for $372,500

Lot 1, 2000 Playoff Contenders Tom Brady Championship Autograph Rookie Ticket Card #144, #39 of 100. Sold for $372,500 at Bonham Skinner - December 07, 2021. 

Although recent headlines are zeroing in on his marriage woes, Tom Brady's past and future as the greatest football player of all time certainly seems to have stayed in his cards. This highly desired and collected Tom Brady rookie card that came up for auction at Bonham Skinner last year was, bar none, the best of its kind. With a production of just 100 cards, it's a must for collectors of top Hall of Famer rookie cards - and the final selling price at $372,500 proves it. Graded excellent and boasting a lot of visual appeal, this collectible card reflects its subject - a total winner. 

1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie Baseball Card

Sold for $20,000

Lot 17, A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie Baseball Card No. 311, PSA Authentic. Sold for $20,000 at Hindman - June 2021.

Remember that 12.6 million dollar Mickey Mantle record breaker we mentioned earlier? In 2021, Hindman also offered a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie Baseball Card in their June, Sports Memorabilia auction that had been placed in a scrapbook for over six decades and offered as a fresh-to-market find. Arguably the most important card in the hobby, this particular version retained a rich color value but had been graded 'Authentic Altered' due to original tape residue on the corners and an uneven left side visible on the card's back. The multi-million dollar version sold by Heritage this year received a 9.5 grade from grader SGC -- the "finest known example" -- making all the difference for it to become the grand slam of collectible rookie cards.

Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Signed Spalding Baseball

Sold for $14,000

Lot 241, Babe Ruth Lou Gehrig Signed Spalding Baseball,  Sold for $14,000 at Fine Estate - March 21, 2021.

Nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat," Babe Ruth began his MLB career as a star left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox but went on to achieve legendary fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is still considered by many to be the greatest baseball player who ever lived. Despite the fact that his last game played was in 1935, Babe Ruth holds the third all time most home runs at 714 right behind Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds. In the sports memorabilia world, Babe Ruth is certainly one you'd expect to see on the top - right alongside the other fellow who signed this $14,000 spalding, "the Iron Horse' and fellow New York Yankee, Lou Gehrig.

Bill Russell. 1957 Topps #77.

Sold for $7,500

Lot 5, Monumentally important basketball rookie card of the NBA's biggest winner, Bill Russell. 1957 Topps #77. Sold for $7,500 at Blackwell Auctions - August 13, 2022.

This might be a shot in the dark, but it sure seems like rookie cards are what sports memorabilia auctions are all about and this one is no short order. Standing at 6'10 with an arm span of 7' 4" - Bill Russel was the centerpiece of the Celtics dynasty that won 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. Russel was named a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and a 12-time NBA All-Star. He took home the gold with the winning U.S. national basketball team at the 1956 Summer Olympics and led the San Francisco Dons to two consecutive NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. Russell is widely considered to be one of the greatest winners and basketball players in history.

1986 Fleer Basketball Michael Jordan Rookie

Sold for $7,000

Lot 456, 1986 Fleer Basketball Michael Jordan Rookie BCCG 9. Sold for $7,000 at Bruneau & Co. Auctioneers - December 11, 2021

Last but not even close to being the least is a Michael Jordan rookie card showing the young "Air Jordan'' doing what he did best. In June 2022, a similar, autographed version sold for $1.008 million dollars at Christie's - unsurprisingly, Michael Jordan memorabilia has skyrocketed since "The Last Dance" docuseries. 

While the desire for sports memorabilia stays steady through the decades, the market is subject to pop culture fluctuations like movie releases, if a team is on a winning streak or if a legendary athlete passes away. These signifiers alert sellers that it's a particularly good time to capitalize on their collections so, if you're looking to begin a collection, try searching for your favorite teams or athletes year round - not only when they come circling back in the media spotlight. Also, (so you don't strike out on a foul item) do your best to avoid fakes and reproductions by bidding with reputable houses like those found on Bidsquare - they'll have the appropriate certifications and background information to make sure you don't bid out of bounds!

Browse Bidsquare's upcoming Sports Memorabilia auctions to bid on your favorite items from the athletes and sports teams you root for. 

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With new auctions added daily, we're always ripe for the picking. Be sure to check Bidsquare's auction calender for little bits of wonderful from every catalog. 

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