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Betting Big Pays Off

August 30, 2020

Baseball card, man in red and white, blue signatureSo, here is the follow-up I promised regarding the Mile Trout rookie card that came up for auction this month. After the LeBron James card set a record last month when it sold for $1.8M, it really didn’t take long for a new record to be set in the world of modern trading cards. But wait, the Trout card didn’t just set a record for a modern card, it set a record for THE most expensive baseball card as it passed the record held by the 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner card that sold in 2016 for $3.12M.

A great marketing gimmick for the trading card companies is that in addition to printing base cards each year for players, they create sets that have limited production with slight variations to the base card; these card sets are known as parallels. Each parallel set (produced in editions from 499 to just one unique piece) have different border colors. They are sold in sets that can cost a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars.

In the last newsletter, I did mention that the Trout card would have an opening bid of $1M, which I thought might be a bit aggressive as one just sold a few months ago for $922K (that was a rare parallel card known as a red refractor card, and just five copies were printed). What I failed to realize when I heard about the card coming up was that it was a really rare and unique parallel card, limited to just one copy.

The card was Trout’s 2009 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects Superfractor card (a rare trading card with a reflective coating) with the serial number 1/1. The photo on the card is from Trout’s 2009 season when he played for one of the Angels’ minor league teams and includes his signature. It was graded by BGS as MINT 9, as there is some wear to the edges, but the signature was graded a perfect 10.

As I followed the auction online, the bidding held steady at $1.45M, but in the last few hours, the action finally started, and the card sold for an astounding $3.2M ($3.936 w/p). And if you are wondering what the seller paid for the card, in an Instagram post, the consignor boasts that he originally purchased the card for $400K just 2 years ago! An amazing return, but apparently the consignor is a betting man, better known as “Vegas Dave,” who obviously bets big in the world of sports…this bet certainly paid off!