What’s More Expensive, A Babe Ruth Or LeBron James Card?
Over the last few months I've been rediscovering my love for sports cards. Back when I was in high school I used to buy dealer tables at sports cards shows to sell and trade cards. I was able to make a little bit of money, have a lot of fun, and learn a lot of lessons.
Back then, there were some traditional concepts with cards. Things like rookie cards are king, authentic autographs carry heavy premiums, and vintage cards were more expensive than modern cards. While those first two are still locked in rules, the last one has been totally dropped in the hobby.
This past week had prime examples of how far we've gotten away from the vintage card concept. There were a handful of sales on eBay that illustrated this perfectly.
As far as modern cards go, there were two modern rookie cards that sold for more than $200,000 each. One was a LeBron James rookie card, the other was a Patrick Mahomes rookie card. Both of these sales were verified completed sales on eBay.
In the same time period, there were some high-end vintage cards that sold on eBay. These are the type of cards that would have been considered "holy grails" for collections 20 years ago. But now the values are just fractions of modern cards. Including one of the most iconic names in all of sports. Babe Ruth.
The 1933 Goudey Babe Ruth "yellow" card is one of the most recognizable sports cards in history. Its the kind of card that would serve as a "holy grail" in many collections. But the same week that a LeBron James rookie sold for more than $200,000 a copy of this legendary Ruth sold for less than half of that.
You can see the list of the most expensive vintage sales on eBay from last week here:
The 1933 Goudey Ruth was graded at a 6, which isn't the best, but isn't horrible for a card eyeing up it's 100th birthday. The LeBron card we keep comparing it to is a "gem mint" 10 in grading, but it's still crazy to consider the price difference between the Ruth and LeBron.
Honestly, this story gets weirder as we continue to examine the modern card sales from that week. Because it wasn't just one LeBron rookie card that sold for more than the Ruth. The same week a LeBron Topps Chrome rookie card, graded at a 9.5, sold for $104k, more than the Ruth. There was also a second Patrick Mahomes rookie card that sold for more than the Ruth that same week.