Baseball cards are a dime a dozen out there in the world. However, only a small portion are rare enough to reach a seven-figure range sale price. ESPN’s Darren Rovell says that one of these cards sold on Thursday night, a 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie card. At a whopping $2.88 million, this is the second most expensive baseball card sold to date.
There was only one other card to sell more than this Mantle rookie card. Back in 2016, a famous 1909 Honus Wagner card sold for more than $3 million.
The history behind the Mantle rookie card is fascinating. Its introduction came in Topps’ second year in business. It didn’t garner much interest as it was too late in the year, so the cards didn’t sell. The Topps warehouse held the packs for even years. The company even tried to get rid of them. The packages sold at carnivals for lessening prices. The final 300 cases, to get rid of them, were just dumped in the ocean.
Behind the Selling of the Baseball Card
It is uncertain who bought the card. However, we do know who sold it. Former NFL offensive lineman Evan Mathis. He played for six teams including Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. Mathis spoke to ESPN’s Outside the Lines on the card during its time on the auction block. Mathis said he had owned the card for two years. While he didn’t say how much he originally paid for it, Mathis did admit that he had to sell almost his entire card collection to obtain it. Because he collected cards since childhood, the price he paid was not a small one.
The reason Mathis sold it according to ESPN is to buy a dream house in Tennesee for his wife and daughters. Also in the mindset that he had given up most of his childhood collection to obtain the Mantle rookie card, he wanted to have some extra money to start collecting cards afterward.
Before the auction, there was an estimate of the card going for $3.5 million which would have made it the most expensive card ever purchased. So while it did not meet expectations exactly, it did come pretty close. Not too shabby for a baseball card.