Photo provided by Huggins & Scott Auctions
The final sale of the most sought after new baseball card in modern history for $17,000 shows how bogus eBay bidding can be. The 1-of-1 autographed Bowman Stephen Strasburg trading card reached over $999,000 in an eBay auction little over a month ago before the owner removed it from the auction site. He put it back up again right away and it got to over half a million dollars before he pulled it.
The Florida based owner of the card then took it to the legitimate sports auction house, Huggins & Scott of Maryland where it closed at $17,000 after almost three weeks of bidding. A total of 10 bids were made on the card with nearly 56,000 views of the auction itself. The true value of the card is estimated by industry experts at about where it finally closed.
"That is plenty of money for this particular card," said sports memorabilia consultant, Dave Rodriguez of Signatures.com. "$17,000 is a lot of money to pay for any trading card of a young player, especially a guy in his rookie year."
Many of the eBay bidders were fans and kids as well as eBayers who likely had no intention of buying the card but were just bidding it up to see where it would go. This is a common complaint with eBay auctions and a sore spot among sellers of collectibles. No one with any knowledge of sports collectibles believed the card was actually going to sell for a million dollars or anywhere near it. The seller did not at first take advantage of eBay's offering of only selling to pre-approved bidders, which would have kept the card from reaching nearly a million dollars.
Not helping the matter is the fact Strasburg was scratched from his latest start with inflammation in his pitching arm. This took place the very night before the Huggins & Scott auction closed. A tough break company officials understood since a strong performance by Strasburg in his final start before the auction closing would have meant several thousand dollars more. A no-hitter, of which there has been a record setting amount this season in MLB, would have put the card into the stratosphere, but not a million stratospheres.
The final price brings into question the amount paid by a Texas based company for the other hot Strasburg 1-of-1 card, which wasn't autographed. It originally sold for about $17,000 and was resold to a sports memorabilia company in the Lone Star State for around $22,000. Was this too high based on the $17,000 paid for what should be considered the more valuable card?
"I think the difference is more from eBay to a legitimate auction house where eBay is more the flavor of the month as opposed to the veteran collector who knows values," said Rodriguez. "The knowledgable veteran isn't going to pay the price of a vintage Mickey Mantle card for a hot young pitcher."
These recent events shed more light on the memorabilia of current players. Some dealers refuse to deal in new merchandise feeling there is too much risk a hot player today, may be a nobody tomorrow. Pitchers are the most risky of all since arm troubles are common especially among hard throwing youngsters. Few have the track record of Hall of fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. For every Ryan or Tom Seaver there seems to be many more David Clyde's, Jim Nash's and Mark Prior's.
"I certainly agree, I remember when Prior was a rookie his autographed baseball was selling for $250 on Major League Baseball's site and a little less in stores," added Rodriguez. "Today, it's $25 if you can get it."
Long time collectors, especially those who went through the 1990's craze, have chosen to stick to vintage collectibles. The careers of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams are set in stone. The only fear in collecting items of these dead players is that too often it seems they just keep signing autographs as the years go by.