For years, Dmitri Young, with the help of collection architect and dealer Dave Bailey, built an incredible baseball card collection. Their focus was on Baseball Hall of Fame rookies between 1948 and 1990, emphasizing PSA 10 graded cards. They built a stunning collection of nearly 500 cards that Young sold off through SCP Auctions in April/May 2012. The auction and collection resonate in my memory because I had only recently come back to the hobby, and Young was one of the more prominent figures in the community. While collecting has gone far more mainstream today with entrepreneurs and personalities like Gary Vaynerchuk, Steve Aoki, and Logan Paul being more public about their collections, that wasn’t as common in the early 2010s. Seeing that it’s now the 10th anniversary of the action, I thought I would run down the catalog, look at some of the more significant sales, and see how the prices have changed over the decade since the auction closed.
First, a bit about Dmitri Young: he played thirteen seasons in Major League Baseball, having made two All-Star games with career statistics of a .292 batting average, 171 home runs, and 683 runs batted in. He earned ~$52M over his career, and he estimates that he spent about $5M on baseball cards. He decided to sell off his collection as part of a lifestyle change, which also involved selling his home in Florida to move to Camarillo to work on his foundation, and the card sale was meant to get it off the ground.
SCP printed a dedicated catalog for Dmitry Young’s collection that came coupled with their standard catalog titled “Important Sports Memorabilia and Cards.” Young’s collection was lots 1-497, which also included lots for a Dmitri Young autographed Reds game-worn road jersey, a Dmitry Young autographed X-Bat, a Dmitry Young autographed Nationals game-used batting helmet, autographed game-used Under Armor cleats, and three items signed by his brother Delmon Young. SCP’s other auctions were lots 498-1004. Here are the front and back of the box that held both catalogs.
Here’s the front and back of the catalog dedicated to the Dmitry Young Collection.
The inside cover of the catalog has a fantastic photo of the collection in a hard carrying case with the details of the auction on the page next to it, specifying that bidding began on April 30, 2012, and ended on May 18, 2012 @10PM EST.
A few pages later, SCP wrote up Young’s biography and some details about the collection as a whole. Dmitri wrote that he hoped the collection’s legacy would live on for many years as he was proud of the work he put into building it and because he loved the hobby.
SCP organized the auction by year, with key cards having lengthy descriptions.
When bidding concluded, six cards in the auction sold for over $100k:
- The 1955 Topps Robert Clemente sold for $432k.
- The 1954 Topps Hank Aaron sold for $357k.
- The 1963 Topps Pete Rose sold for $157k.
- The 1954 Topps Ernie Banks sold for $142k.
- The 1948 Bowman Stan Musial sold for $129k.
- The 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson sold for $115k.
All six of those cards were PSA 10s. The $2.4M in total sales was an excellent start for Young’s charity.
I will focus on the six cards that sold for 6-figure prices in the coming paragraphs.
Young’s 1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente sale was the last (and is the only) PSA 10 that PSA lists in its historical auction prices (it’s a Pop 1 card), but in March 2021, Goldin Auctions sold a PSA 9 for just over $1.1M. And while that may be a high point for card prices in recent years, two other PSA 9 sales exceeded the $432k Young got for his 10 in 2016 as well. With a PSA 9 selling for $478k in February 2016 at Heritage Auctions and Goldin selling one for $468k in November 2016. I think the PSA 10 Clemente would undoubtedly be a 7-figure card at auction today.
The 1954 Topps #128 Henry Aaron PSA 10 sold for $357k in 2012, the last documented sale of a PSA 10. But again, the last two PSA 9 sales have exceeded the PSA 10 sale prices, with a PSA 9 selling for $645k in February 2021 at a Heritage Auction and another selling for $430k in May 2021 at a Goldin Auction. The Aaron rookie in PSA 10 is a Pop 2 card.
While still controversially not in the HOF, the Pete Rose rookie is super popular, and the PSA 10 copy sold by Young is also a Pop 1 card. It was resold by Heritage Auctions in August 2016, quadrupling in price to $717k from the original $157k price. The last PSA 9 sale (a moderately liquid Pop 30 card) in December 2021 by Robert Edward Auctions was $150k, nearly what the 10 sold for a decade ago.
Ernie Banks PSA 10 rookie sold for $142k a decade ago. This card is a Pop 2 today, with the last PSA 9 sale exceeding Young’s 10 with a $144k sale by Heritage in May 2021.
I’m a big fan of 1948 Bowman baseball cards, and to me, the Musial rookie was the auction’s highlight. Young’s PSA 10, which remains a Pop 1 card (there are 15 PSA 9s), went for $129k. In May 2017, Memory Lane Inc resold the card for $360k after re-holdering it and removing the Dmitri Young Collection note on the label.
The last original 6-figure sale was of the PSA 10 Reggie Jackson rookie card, which sold for $115k in 2012. The card is a Pop 1 in PSA 10 and 41 in PSA 9. Heritage resold the PSA 10 for just over $1M in their February 2021 Winter Platinum Night Sports Auction. The 9s aren’t quite 6-figure cards yet, with the last sale by Robert Edward Auctions of a 9 being for $93k in December 2021.
Certainly, there are many more cards in Young’s collection, which would exceed the 6-figure price point if auctioned today. But “modern” cards have also really taken off, so there are two I wanted to inspect further.
First, in 2012, Young sold his 1990 Topps #414 Frank Thomas NNOF PSA 10 for $24k. Young’s was and remains the only PSA 10 in existence; there are 19 PSA 9s, and they pushed over the $20k price point in 2019, and more recently, one sold for $17k in August 2020. In 2011 PSA 9s were selling for just over $1k, and in 2015 they were $5k, so even the 9s have run a lot the past few years. So I think if the 10 came to market, it could be a 6-figure card (even though the reverse isn’t perfect) since even 8s are even pushing 5-figures, and the card is incredibly popular.
The other modern card that has taken the hobby by storm over the past four years is Derek Jeter’s 1993 SP rookie card. Young’s #279 Gem Mt 10 Jeter sold for just under $25k. Despite being a Pop 21 card in Gem Mt 10 condition, along with 612 PSA 9 copies, the 10s have pushed $500k, and most recently, one sold for $360k in November 2021 by Mile High Card Company.
Looking at the change in prices since the sale, one could say Dmitri Young liquidated too early, but no one could have predicted the considerable boom in card prices at the time. And who knows, in 10 years, the market could collapse. And, while not as significant to the $2.4M sale, many of the lesser cards commanded more than one would have expected at the time for carrying the Dmitri Young Collection pedigree on the label.
I know, irrespective of price, that the Dmitri Young Collection was one of the most impressive collections of rookie cards anyone has ever assembled. Many of the cards remain significant rarities. Heck, I mentioned, or pictured, less than 2% of the cards in the collection in this article! If anyone is attempting to put together a collection with such scope today, I wish them all the best.
Also, if you have any of Young’s cards in your collection, let me know in the comments or over on Twitter. I’d love to see them, and happy collecting!
I have Dimitri’s 1993 Topps Jeter in my collection.
That’s awesome! It’s such an era defining card now, and yours has that extra story, so cool, congrats.
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