As America’s pastime, baseball is a sport ingrained in American culture and at the forefront of the card collecting hobby. Collectable cards can trace their history with Baseball back to the 1850s and 60s but didn’t really start mass production until the 40s and 50s in the post-war era. With such a rich history Baseball cards have been among the most expensive collectibles for quite some time. Check out our list of the most expensive baseball cards ever sold featuring different eras, styles, and players!
1. Honus Wagner 1909-1911 ATC - $6,600,000
The story of this card isinsane. What makes this specific card so special is that Wagner had his cards pulled as the set was going out. No one knowswhy but that has led collectors to believe there were less than 200 in circulation. In 1973, Mike Aronstein found this exact card somewhere in Long Island, NY and brought it to Detroit to be auctioned off at a convention where a bidding war breaks out between two buyers. Ultimately the card is eventually won by a man named Fred McKie of New Jersey. The price it sold for at that time? Get this… $1,100. Now, this was the 1970’s and the market was not as high as it is now, but McKie won the card for what would be just shy of $7,000 in 2022.
After McKie’s ownership of the card, it eventually moved its way from another NJ based collector who owned two different T206 Wagners at once, then to a collector who had it for three decades and finally settling up with a Texas based collector. In 2012 it was entered into the SGC known portal of T206 Wagner cards but what made this one different from all the others was the grade it was given. Before this specific card was graded by SGC, the highest grade given was a 2, and this one was given a 3. The colors haven't flushed out, the portrait still has distinct lines and the centering is just about dead on. At auction with REA this T-206 Honus Wagner sold for a whopping $6,600,000 after being at auction for just under a month making it the most expensive baseball card ever sold.
2. PSA 9 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle - $5,200,000
The second msot expensive baseball card ever sold on our list goes to a card that sold in February 2021 and it's a PSA 9 Topps Mickey Mantle that went for an incredible $5,200,000. It was won by tech entrepreneur Rob Gough who is known in the celebrity circles for getting actors, musicians and the like into sports cards. At the time it shattered the previous record held by the Mike Trout card listed below.. He’s been a collector of ‘52 Mantles for quite some time, owning at least 5 different graded copies of the card. He even sold a PSA 6 of it to electronic music icon Steve Aoki; who has since designed cards for Topps. In an interview with The Athletic, Gough says he has “no thoughts of selling it.”
3. BGS 9.5 2009 Bowman Chrome Mike Trout Superfractor - $3,930,000
he origins for this awesome Mike Trout rookie 1/1 comes from a prominent gambler in Las Vegas who goes by the name of “Vegas Dave.” He originally won the card in an eBay auction in 2018 for $400,000. He was met with confusion by the general public when he won the card, but he saw something past what most would see as “a piece of cardboard.” Well, his gamble paid off as in August of 2020, the card was listed by Goldin Auctions with a starting bid of $1,000,000 and would go on to sell for $3,930,000.
4. PSA 9 1933 Goudey #53 Babe Ruth - $4,212,200
Sold in July 2021, this card is from the widely popular Goudey Set, funnily enough harkening to parallels these days, The Great Bambino had four cards, #53, #144, #149, and #181. While all four are highly sought after due to the presence of the Yankee Legend, the Yellow Ruth(#53) is considered the hardest to find. The card was sold from the estate of Dr. Thomas Newman who had a great many unique cards, and was sold through Memory Lane Auctions.
5. PSA 10 1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie - $717,000
Rounding out of list of most expensive baseball cards ever sold, Pete Rose may never make the list of Baseball Hall of Famers but he appears on our list at #5. Despite his lifetime ban for betting on baseball, the Hit King is still revered by many, leading to this card becoming one of the most expensive. After taking nearly 3000 submissions of these cards, this happens to be the only one that graded out as a Gem Mint 10. Making this card even more special is the fact that Pete Rose himself is not even the only rookie featured on the card, Pedro Gonzalez(One of the first 15 Dominicans in the Majors), Ken McMullen(played 15 seasons), and Al Weis(hit Game Tying HR in Game 5 of the 1969 World Series) making this one-of-a-kind card even just that little bit more special.
A precipitous drop off with the fifth card, but as the card collecting hobby continues to grow seemingly exponentially, more baseball cards will be selling for over $1,000,000 in future years. Having already signed a huge contract, who knows what Wander Francos rookies will go for in 5-6 years time, they may quickly find themselves on the list of most expensive baseball cards ever sold!
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