A Mint 10-graded Derek Jeter trading card from his 1993 rookie season with the New York Yankees has become the most valuable modern baseball card ever sold.
The Upper Deck SP card realised $99,000 in an eBay sale hosted by trading card specialist PWCC on May 25. That’s almost double the previous record of $54,576 (set earlier this year by another Upper Deck SP Derek Jeter rookie). The enormous result puts this card on the same footing as cards from the 1950s or earlier and could well lead to a gold rush as buyers seek out the rarest modern baseball cards.
Modern cards (post-1986) were typically produced in far greater numbers than those from the pre-modern era.
There is no shortage of Derek Jeter rookie cards. In all around 20,000 have been graded. But there are only 22 at grade 10.
That’s partly because this card is holographic, which makes it particularly susceptible to scratching. Even a small area of damage can knock tens of thousands of dollars off the estimate.
PWCC CEO Brett Huigens told ESPN: “People have a much harder time understanding the nuance in the grading of modern-day cards.
“There isn’t the same difference from an 8 to a 9 to a 10 in modern cards as there is with vintage.”
While the vast majority of modern trading cards are in low demand, others are attracting frenzied bids at auction. The record for any modern trading card is $312,000, set for a 2003 signed LeBron James card in a 2016 sale. Meanwhile a 2000 Tom Brady rookie card realised $250,000 in February this year.
Those results reflect the growing popularity of football and basketball over America’s traditional pastime. So will that LeBron ever approach the $3.1m record paid for a T206 Honus Wagner in 2016? We can’t see any reason why not.