Super Bowl appearances, Hall of Fame enshrinement, popular TV shows, and even death, all help create a boom in the sports memorabilia business.
Yes, even the hobby of collecting baseball cards is coming back strong.
So what better to do on the weekend before the Super Bowl than clean out those closets and clutter spaces to see if some hidden gems might still exist. (Not everyone’s mom threw out their card collections, right?)
The recent passing of baseball legend Henry Aaron at age 86 added to a sad list of nine Baseball Hall of Famers to die since last year. To say the least, anything related to Aaron has become a hot commodity.
As a random example from online auction site eBay, on Jan. 27 four auctions (of many) closed on Topps brand 1956, 1959, 1963 and 1965 Hank Aaron baseball cards totaling just over $2,000. The highest bid of 38 on the 1965 card was $937.
Super Sports Cards on Andresen Road in Vancouver had a Hank Aaron autographed cap and baseball bat recently sell for $200 and $395 respectively. The autographs were certified authentic, and as store manager Justin Mirabal pointed out, the prices were not marked up.
But death of an athlete only increases demand — and value.
“When Kobe (Bryant) passed away, tons of people were coming in looking for Kobe (items),” Mirabal said. “But there were a lot coming in with items. They had met him, seen him at a game and got something autographed and wanted to find out what the value was.”
Mirabal said the biggest thing about autographed items is that they need to be authenticated before they can be sold on the market.
“We had a Kobe jersey that was autographed,” Mirabal said. “We have to have another company authenticate it. There’s no one locally that does it, but companies like JSA (James Spence Authentication) will come into the shop and authenticate items for us and customers.”
Cards are a bit easier to determine value as Mirabal and his staff have the experience to determine condition and potential value. After all, Super Sports Cards has a card inventory in the millions.
Keep in mind, just because an item gets a certain price on eBay or has a listed value in a price guide doesn’t mean a card shop will pay that amount. It is a business after all.
“With higher priced items, it’s probably close to 70% of value pay out,” Mirabal said. “Less expensive, $10-20, it is closer to half.”
It doesn’t take an athlete dying to get a bump in memorabilia prices.
“When they make the Hall of Fame, or didn’t make the Hall of Fame — I’m sure I’ll get people asking about (Curt) Schilling and (Barry) Bonds this week — or play in the Super Bowl,” Mirabal said will increase interest and affect prices.
He points to Derek Jeter’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame last year bumping the price in Jeter items, and even Ken Griffey Jr. reaching the Hall in 2016 was a plus for Griffey items.
“Ever since then there’s probably been more interest in him than before he made the Hall,” Mirabal said of Griffey. “He’s always been a popular player, especially locally.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes are front and center right now with the Super Bowl coming up Feb. 7.
Neither NFL quarterback can come close to touching how hot former NBA star Michael Jordan is now after the airing of ESPN’s documentary “The Last Dance.” Jordan was always big draw anyway, only magnified more now and to a new audience that may not have seen him play or play in his prime.
Super Sports Cards has an authentic autographed Michael Jordan limited lithograph hanging in the store. Someone brought it in after finding it in a storage locker they had won at auction.
And it can be hanging in your house in time for the Super Bowl for only $5,000.
Better start digging out those old baseball cards.