Every young boy in North America grew up having some sort of baseball card collection. Whether they are from Fleer, Topps, Upper Deck or Donruss, collecting them was a pastime as much as playing the game itself.
Of course, we all wish we were able to snag a rookie card of Derek Jeter, or maybe that of Albert Pujols or Josh Hamilton. Or maybe we can still get a card of rising stars like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper or Buster Posey. More often than not, however, we only get cards of regular players, or even of overrated players who turned out to be flops, like Ruben Rivera and Brien Taylor.
And the cards are not limited to baseball, Football and basketball players are featured on sports cards as well. As a matter of fact, cards of NBA players outsold the baseball cards of EX-2000 for 1996. Of course, that was the freshman year of one Kobe Bryant, and rookies with huge potential and expectations tend to really sell a lot.
Sports cards are highly collectible items. And if you are lucky enough to hold on to a rare card of a player who eventually turned out to be great, it may even turn to millions.
These are the top ten most expensive sports cards in the world.
1. Honus Wagner, Baseball, 1909-11 ATC T-206 – $2.8 million
Wagner is probably the greatest shortstop to ever play the game. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates where he won eight batting titles. He also had the most number of stolen bases five times. His greatest acclaim probably came from Ty Cobb, the man considered as the greatest player of that era. Cobb said that Wagner is the greatest star ever to take the diamond.
Only around 200 of this card was ever distributed because Wagner refused to endorse it production by the American Tobacco Company. Some claim there was a dispute in compensation, while others say it was Wagner’s concern that kids would need to buy cigarettes to get the card.
2. Babe Ruth, Baseball, 1914 Baltimore News SGC – $517,000
Born George Herman Ruth, he was known as the Bambino and the Sultan of Swat. He turned the New York Yankees into a baseball powerhouse with his hitting prowess. Four World Series titles later, Yankee Stadium became known as The House that Ruth Built. Before becoming a hitting machine, Ruth was a highly successful pitcher with the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox sold him to the Yankees, and endured 86 years of title drought that was called The Curse of the Bambino. He is still one of the all time leaders in home runs, slugging percentage, runs batted in and on-base slugging percentage.
3. Joe Doyle, Baseball, 1909-11 ATC T-206 – $329,000
Doyle was a major league pitcher for four years from 1906 to 1910. He played for the New York Highlanders and the Cincinnati Reds. He was known as Slow Joe because of his penchant for stalling in between pitches, taking up an unusual amount of time before throwing the next pitch.
4. Mickey Mantle, Baseball, 1952 Topps – $282,000
Mantle played center field for the Yankees. He is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He is also considered the greatest switch hitter of all time. He won seven World Series titles in 18 seasons, winning three Most Valuable Player awards and one hitting Triple Crown along the way.
5. Lou Gehrig, Baseball, 1933 Goudey – $274,950
Named the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig got his break in 1925 when the regular first baseman of the Yankees, Wally Pipp, asked to be taken out of the lineup because of an injury to the skull after getting beaned in practice. Gehrig went on to play every game until 1939, thereby establishing himself as one of the most beloved Yankees. His skills rapidly deteriorated in his last years in the game, however, because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that became known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He set several records, including the most grand slams that was only matched in 2012, and most consecutive games played, that was later surpassed by Cal Ripken Jr.
6. Ty Cobb, Baseball, 1911 General Baking Co. – $272,980
An outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, he set 90 records throughout his career. Considered as probably the greatest player of his era, his reputation is tarnished by his rough playing style and unfriendly behavior.
7. Bronko Nagurski, Football, 1935 National Chicle – $240,000
He helped the Chicago Bears to several division titles and two NFL crowns. He was a strong running back who often carried his tacklers for several yards before falling down. He later on became a professional wrestling champion.
8. Honus Wagner, Baseball, 1910 Standard Caramel – $218,550
His nickname is The Flying Dutchman, though he was not from the Netherlands. He actually had German heritage, and was therefore Deutsch. It got altered along the way and became Dutchman. His eight batting titles is still a record in the National League, tied only by Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres.
9. George Mikan, Basketball, 1948 Bowman – $218,550
He was the guy who redefined the game of basketball. He made use of the hook shot way before Kareem Abdul Jabbar popularized the shot. Mikan also had tremendous skills in rebounding and blocking shots. As a result of his dominance, the shaded lane underneath the basket was widened to prevent the big man from positioning deep down the near the ring.
10. Joe Jackson, Baseball, 1914 Boston Garter – $204,000
Known as Shoeless Joe Jackson, he was one of the featured players in the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams. He was banned from baseball after getting involved in the Black Sox scandal of 1919, in which members of the Chicago White Sox conspired to throw the World Series. Jackson was implicated despite batting .375 in the series, with six RBIs and no errors. As the accusations flew thick and fast, a kid famously asked Jackson to say it ain’t so. Jackson kept his dignity and maintained his silence, even as he denied any involvement in the scandal.