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The Sports Cards I Would Buy If I Had a Million Dollars

It’s fun to fantasize about what life would be like after winning the lottery. After setting life up for comfort, paying off a mortgage, making sure finances would last the rest of my life, etc., I’ve wondered how my collecting habits would change. After getting auction catalogs, browsing sold items on eBay, or walking around the National Sports Collectors Convention; it’s clear there are already plenty of whales in the hobby with million-dollar incomes purchasing sports cards, so this exercise has some practicality to it. This post is a listing of cards I would buy if I had $1M to spend on sports cards.

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle

1952 Topps #311 Mickey Mantle

I would start with a nice, well-centered mid-grade 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. A PSA 5 is around $58000

Running Total: $58000

1986 Fleer Basketball Box

1986 Fleer Basketball Wax Box

A BBCE authenticated box of 1986 Fleer is around $125000.

Running Total: $183000

1954 Bowman Football Box

1954 Bowman Football Wax Box

TonyeTrade has a box of 1954 Bowman 5 Cent packs listed for $71500.

Running Total: $254500

1952 Topps Baseball Wax Pack

1952 Topps Baseball Wax Pack

I found this 1952 Topps Wax Pack on eBay for $55000.

Running Total: 309500

1969 Topps #25 Lew Alcindor

1969 Topps #25 Lew Alcindor

A PSA 9 Alcindor rookie is $39000.

Running Total: $348500

1953 Topps #1 Jackie Robinson

1953 Topps #1 Jackie Robinson

In July, 2019, a 1953 Topps Jackie Robinson graded PSA 9 sold for $52000 (I suspect the price would be higher today).

Running Total: 400500

1979 OPC #18 Wayne Gretzky

1979 OPC #18 Wayne Gretzky

It’s time for another 6-figure card. $100k for an OPC Gretzky rookie.

Running Total: $500500

1986 Topps #161 Jerry Rice

1986 Topps #161 Jerry Rice

Of the 1980s football rookie cards, I’ve always preferred the Jerry Rice. And for $38600, I could buy a Gem Mint copy.

Running Total: $539100

1970 Topps Basketball Wax Box

1970 Topps Basketball Wax Box

1970s Basketball Wax is tough to find. This box is a cool $66000.

Running Total: $605100

1958 Topps #66 Bobby Hull

1958 Topps #66 Bobby Hull

Hockey needs representation in a high-end collection too. This Bobby Hull is $60000.

Running Total: $665100

1966 Topps #35 Bobby Orr

1966 Topps #35 Bobby Orr

The classic Orr Rookie. $40000 for a PSA 8.

Running Total: $705100

1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente

1955 Topps #164 Roberto Clemente

Another baseball classic for $35000.

Running Total: $740100

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle

1951 Bowman #253 Mickey Mantle

If you have a 1952 Topps Mantle, you should probably have his true rookie card as well, and a PSA 7 will only run you $35000.

Running Total: $775100

1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell

1957 Topps #77 Bill Russell

A basketball legend’s best card. For $30000.

Running Total: $805100

1961 Fleer #8 Wilt Chamberlain

1961 Fleer #8 Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt’s 1961 Fleer can be yours for $30000.

Running Total: $835100

1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan

1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan

A sensible Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer Basketball Card, $30000 for the GOAT.

Running Total: $865100

1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays

1951 Bowman #305 Willie Mays

The 1951 Bowman WIllie Mays is another post-war classic, $20000.

Running Total: $885100

1933 Goudey #181 Babe Run

1933 Goudey #181 Babe Ruth

And finally, a pre-war card. My favorite Babe Ruth, for just under $100k (97).

Running total: $982100

And there you have it, just under $1M of sports cards. I think it would be sensible to use the rest of the money for a secure storage solution.

A few other considerations if prices dropped or I spent even more money on baseball cards: T206 Ty Cobb Green Portrait, 1948 Bowman George Mikan, 1952 Topps Baseball Complete Set, 1951 Bowman Baseball Complete Set, and PSA Pack Runs from all sports.

What would you buy? Let me know down in the comments or over on Twitter.

3 Comments

  1. Stephen Conti Stephen Conti

    This is fun to think/dream about. I would do the following. 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in PSA 8 for $400K, 1986 Fleer Michael Jordan in PSA 10 for $200K, 1979 Topps Wayne Gretzky in PSA 9 for $25K, 1986 Topps Jerry Rice in PSA 10 for $30K and a 2000 Tom Brady Contenders Autograph in PSA 10 for $135K. That would leave $210K to play with for modern players that haven’t played a full career yet; Mahomes, Jackson, Allen, Watson, Luka, Giannis, Davis, Young, etc.

    • John John

      Thanks for commenting and I like your list a lot. I’m just not as plugged into the modern side of the hobby.

  2. […] few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the sports cards I would buy if I had a million dollars. In it, I laid out a dream list of post-war, high-grade, major-sports cards I have lusted over for […]

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