Mike Trout is the centre fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, an eight-time MLB All-Star, three-time American League MVP, and seven-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award. He secured himself a $430 million contract at the ripe old age of 27, and yes… he’s considered to be a once-in-a-generation ball player.
As a player, he delivers. As a product, he’s FedEx.
Over the weekend, an ‘extremely rare’ AKA 1-of-1 rookie players card featuring Mike Trout fetched a cool US$3.93 million (~AU$5.5 million) at auction, making it the world’s most expensive baseball card.
Let’s take you back to about 12 months ago when the love-him-or-hate-him Gary Vaynerchuk made a compelling argument for the case of trading cards as a potentially explosive avenue for investment. Vaynerchuk had been following the gentle yet meteoric return of collectors cards for a little while now, and his prediction for boom time came down to these three points:
- Kids who “cut their teeth” selling sneakers are going to make real money with sports cards because of increased ability to secure dramatically more inventory when they believe in a product.
- Nostalgia: people from the 80s who grew up with sports cards now have kids, and the “reboot” is on.
- Buying expensive packs is similar to sports betting, which is also getting bigger.
To us, it may not seem like rock-solid security, but when you’re looking at the best players in the games, it’s certainly a tempting idea.
Pair Vaynerchuk’s points with the fact that COVID-19 has flipped things on their head for the uber-rich who are now switching out stocks for hard assets (including sports memorabilia), and you’ve got yourself a goods market that has been shockingly profitable.
Back to it, and this is how quickly the player card market is jumping; the Trout card in question was purchased back in 2018 by a man who goes by the name “Vegas Dave”. Dave bought it on eBay for $400,000 from a seller based in Taiwan. Dave saw the potential for exponential growth and, despite being told numerous times he was “an idiot” for spending a mortgage on a piece of cardboard, Dave is now sitting on an ROI of about 800+%.
Not bad for an idiot and a piece of cardboard.
Your 1996 Tony Lockett footy card might not be at this level yet, but Vaynerchuk reckons the next best place to start is with some Michael Jordan Rookie Sticker cards (currently selling for around $1,500 on eBay) and 2013 Panini Prizm Giannis Antetokounmpo Rookie Card #290 PSA 10 Graded (currently fetching just under $500). For a long-term gamble, Vaynerchuk is turning to Africa. Buying up cheap Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie Cards, predicting (and hoping) that Africa will be the next continent to rise up, and he’ll be able to flog these for thousands to wealthy businessmen and women.
Basically, do some research, shoot for the stars, and keep that cardboard in mint condition – who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the owner of the world’s most expensive baseball card.