Baseball trading cards are as much a part of American culture as the sport itself, and they’re almost as old, too. But while baseball’s stars are continuously changing, the cards commemorating the greats stick around forever. While trading cards aren’t as popular today as they once were, the vintage card collector market is still booming. No, seriously. As the 2017 postseason kicks into gear, here are seven cards we would kill for that have sold for a total of more than $5 million.
7. Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps Card, $282,587: Of the more than 1,000 Mantle cards that Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) has graded over the years, this grade 9 version sold at auction in 2008 for $282,587. However, this isn’t the rarest Mickey Mantle card out there, as three grade 10 versions of the card allegedly exist. If one of those legendary Yankee cards were to go to auction, it’s believed that it’d rake in somewhere in the seven figures.
6. Joe Doyle 1909-1911 American Tobacco Company T206 Error Card, $329,000: Just as in any kind of vintage collecting market, misprints, mistakes and other oddball rarities sell for a premium. Such is the case with this “Slow Joe” Doyle card from the American Tobacco Company’s T206 collection, which erroneously printed that he played for the New York Nationals, when he in fact played for the New York Highlanders. There are less than 10 of these cards left in existence, and the card last sold for $329,000 in 2009.
5. Hank Aaron 1954 Topps Rookie Card, $357,594: Legendary Milwaukee Braves outfielder Hank Aaron is one of the greatest to ever play the game, and this 1954 Topps Rookie Card was also a member of the coveted Dmitri Young Collection, which sold in 2012 for a cool $2.4 million. In the collection, this card was valued just shy of $360,000, making it the fifth-most valuable card of all time.
4. Eddie Plank 1909-1911 American Tobacco Company T206, $414,750: We’d be willing to bet Eddie Plank never earned $400,000 the entire time he played for the Philadelphia Athletics, the St. Louis Terriers and the St. Louis Browns combined. Nevertheless, his card, also part of the ATC’s famous T206 series, is one of the most valuable cards in the game, selling for $414,750 roughly a decade ago. And you bet your ass that when it changes hands again, it’ll only be for more money.
3. Roberto Clemente 1955 Topps Rookie Card, $432,690: PSA has received more than 2,800 copies of this exact card over the years, and more come out of the woodwork every day. The difference, however, is quality. This particular card is the only one ever submitted to receive a 10 out of 10 rating by the PSA, and sold as part of the Dmitri Young Collection in 2012 for over $432,000. By comparison, the same exact card with an 8 PSA rating is worth only about six grand.
2. Babe Ruth 1914 Rookie Card, $517,000: The most famous baseball player of all time, Babe Ruth has been synonymous with the game for over a century now. And when one of his 1914 rookie cards, of which only 10 are thought to still exist—this was before the Yankees, and while he was still pitching—popped up at auction in 2008, it fetched an astonishing $517,000, even though it’s actual quality was rather low. Sometimes the name is everything.
1. Honus Wagner 1909-1911 ATC T206 American Tobacco Card, $3.1 Million: Unless you’re a serious collector, you’ve likely never heard of the most valuable card of all time. Back in the day, trading cards were used as cardboard inserts in cigarette packs to keep them from getting crushed inside pockets. Future Hall of Famer Wagner, the moral man he was, didn’t want it to appear as though he was supporting the tobacco industry for his younger fans, and so demanded his card be pulled after only about 200 or so hit shelves. This card’s incredibly history and rarity combined for the record-breaking price tag it yielded at sale last year.