Scavenger Life Episode 509: Everyone Doing Back Flips

4/4/21 – 4/10/21

Total items in store: 2204

Items sold: 41

Gross sales: $2877.04 (up 76.8% from one year ago)

Net sales: $2066.36 (up 74.2% from one year ago)

Highest price sold (net): $368.17 — 6 commemorative patch cards from the Horrors of War set

Lowest price sold (net): $7.76 — 1 of the 4 metal printing plates (used in the printing process of the card) of race car driver Brett Bodine

Loved the podcast this week. On the subject of unbreakable records, the story of long jumper Bob Beamon comes to mind. Obviously you can Google the details but this video provides a great summary.

Skip to 1:32 for Bob Beamon and his section of the video lasts about ten minutes. But I give my highest recommendation to the video creator, Jon Bois, who makes esoteric videos about sports that are both funny and well researched. This particular video is about the history of athletes named Bob (Bob Beamon among them) and touches on both famous and not-so-famous athletes.

It was such a thrill to wake up this past Tuesday to the $400+ sale of patch cards which are currently en route all the way to Germany. Horrors of War is an iconic trading card set from the 1930s and about ten years ago, one of the larger non sports card manufacturers did a reboot of the set. Like almost every other modern card set, the set was about the cool inserts, among them cut signatures of military generals, cards with pieces of uniforms from WW2 and earlier, and the commemorative patch cards (e.g. 25th infantry) like the ones that went to my buyer in Germany. I actually have a saved search for this set because it’s so collectible. I won a number of auctions for these patch cards last year, paying $20-$30 each for them, and have sold one or two a month in the $70-$90 range since listing them. But this was the first time I sold so many to one buyer.

My most profitable sale this week, like many baseball card sellers, was an autograph of new Detroit Tigers outfielder Akil Baddoo. I had purchased an autograph card of his at auction last year for $1.52 and until this past week, the card sat unlisted in one of my many ‘junk’ or ‘commons’ boxes. Two years ago, Baddoo was in class A (three rungs from the majors — AA and AAA are the next steps in competition) and didn’t even perform very well at that level. And there were no minor leagues last year because of the pandemic. But he was drafted to the Tigers this year, who are terrible, and after performing well in spring training, Baddoo got a chance to play in some games at the start of this season. And boy, did his career ever get off to a Hollywood beginning.

First game: home run on the first pitch of his first at-bat

Second game: two hits including a grand slam home run

Third game: single in the ninth inning to win the game

His team is still terrible, but if you are a Tigers fan or even a baseball fan, it is hard not to be charmed by his parents dancing in the stands every time he gets a hit and all the fans getting excited every time he comes up to the plate. So his card prices have risen dramatically. I dug out my autograph this week and listed it for $149.99 and within an hour it had sold for $140.

The wildest part is that this isn’t even one of his rarest or most desired autographed cards! The card I sold was manufactured by Panini, who does not have a license with MLB. His most desirable Topps cards, specifically the most popular set Bowman Chrome, have been selling in the hundreds and even thousands depending on desirability (basically design and rarity).

In all likelihood, this is the peak frenzy for Baddoo cards, and in a few months time prices will drop dramatically. Pitchers will figure out Baddoo’s weaknesses and some of his hits will travel into the other team’s gloves instead of over the fence. A new hot player will take the league by storm and collectors/speculators/whoever is paying these crazy prices will move on to someone else. This happens every year in every sport.

I actually sold another Baddoo autograph last year, a blue Bowman Chrome, for $17.85. At the time, I was happy with the $10 or whatever it was in profit. That same card is currently selling in the $300 range. That’s the best example of the sports card bubble for you. In a nutshell: these weird outlier sale values where speculators and “investors” buy cards based on an individual performance or series of games. I’m not sure I fully understand their motivations, but I’m happy to sell to these buyers a handful of times every week.

I’ll take the profits from my one sale and reinvest them in much safer bets. Bubble aside, most card values — the best players, the most desirable sets and designs — are much more stable and predictable. There are always new sets coming out and there are obvious patterns in the types of cards which retain value and those that don’t. Often I find my best deals based on a seller who does an auction instead of buy it now or doesn’t create the best listing.

But Baddoo hit another home run tonight, so maybe those buying his cards this week will get the last laugh. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I never would have guessed that my little $1.52 purchase last fall would have netted me over $100 profit, either.

This post was originally published on this site