Sports collectibles are an odd phenomenon. People who aren’t really into sports scoff at fans who are able to spend thousands of dollars on a rare item. The fans themselves, on the other hand, perceive these cards or memorabilia as some of the most valuable items in the world, a unique, authentic snapshot of their favorite athletes’ moments of greatness.
Regardless of how you feel about collecting baseball cards and other memorabilia, the sheer value and impact of the collectible market on the sports industry is something that needs to be recognized. In this article, we’ll go over some of the most valuable and interesting sports collectibles. You might even be able to snag some of them at an auction, provided that you have the cash!
To baseball fans, Mickey Mantle needs no introduction. He is one of the sports’ greatest legends, and his contribution to the game is indisputable. To this day, he is the only player to hit 150 home runs from both sides of the plate! One of the most precious Mickey Mantle collectibles is his 1952 baseball card. The Topps card will be 70 years old this year, and it was sold in January 2021 for $5.2 million, placing it at the top of the most expensive baseball cards of all time.
Knowing what was going on in the mind of a top athlete during the height of their career is something that many fans would give up their right arm for. Especially when the athlete in question is Joe DiMaggio, an New York Yankees icon who was also Marilyn Monroe’s husband for a brief while. His hand-written journal was sold for $1.5 million, which can be considered a low-ball offer, considering the prices of other memorabilia mentioned in this article.
People say that we shouldn’t really judge anyone until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes. An anonymous buyer from the United States can now claim to fully understand the most iconic player to have ever graced the NBA’s courts. Michael Jordan’s game-worn 1985 Air Jordans have recently sold for $560,000, and while it is unclear whether or not the sneakers had an effect on his basketball skills, the lucky buyer is unlikely to regret the purchase.
Inflation is currently impacting every single aspect of our lives, but paying $10,000 for a piece of chewing gum is still a bit of a stretch, regardless of the state of the global economy. In 2002, Luiz Gonzalez, one of Arizona Diamonbacks’ most popular former players, chewed on a piece of gum that was later sold to Curt Muller for ten grand. All of the proceeds were donated to the athletic programs of a high school in Lakeview, Minnesota.
When it comes to sports icons, few athletes have the same level of recognizability as the great late Muhammad Ali. The robe he has worn during a 1965 fight against Sonny Liston has recently gone up for sale and is projected to be sold for about half a million dollars.
Jesse Owens is one of the most recognizable track runners in history. As an African American man, he directly challenged Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Munich Olympics. One of these gold medals was sold for $1,466,574 at an auction in 2013, making it the single most expensive piece of Olympic memorabilia sold to this day.
If you’re a hockey fan, then you are likely familiar with Wayne Gretzky and his record-breaking career. Before he became one of the best, most recognizable athletes to have ever graced the NHL rinks, he was an up-and-coming youth player just starting out in the National Hockey League for the Edmonton Oilers. His very first collectible card was released in 1979, and in the 21st century, it became one of the most coveted “white whales” among collectors. It was auctioned off in 2021 for a whopping price of $3.75 million.
Spending millions of dollars on clothing used by the world’s most famous athletes may seem irresponsible to most of us mere mortals. However, these kinds of purchases need not be ridiculed. As the examples of Wayne Gretzky’s rookie card or Jesse Owens’ gold medal have proven, these items can turn out to be seriously profitable long-term investments, akin to fine art in their steady rise in value.
Whether motivated by profit or sheer adoration for the athletes, buyers of some of these ridiculously expensive cards and garments are not likely to regret their lofty purchases!
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