Derek Jeter is no Honus Wagner. But he is considered one of the greatest baseball players ever to play the game; he is undoubtedly one of the best New York Yankees. But he has only been out of the game a few years—and he is still alive.
So, then why did a Derek Jeter card go for over $200,000 on eBay the other night?
Collecting baseball cards is something we may have heard our grandparents, or maybe our parents, did back when they were kids. But card companies flooded the market back in the 1980s and 90s. As a result, the hobby lost some of its appeal.
Finding a star player’s rookie card was a big deal 40 or 50 years ago. Think a Michael Jordan card from his brief baseball career is worth something? Think again.
Because of the mass production of cards in the 1980s and 90s, the time is often referred to by collectors as the “Dead Card Era” or “Junk Wax Era.” Companies were responding to demand, but they forgot something important in the process.
For trading cards to be considered collectible and have value, they need to be rare.
Two critical aspects of the value of trading cards are its condition and how rare it is. The fewer there are, and the better shape it is in, the higher the value. This card is a 1996 Select Certified Mirror Gold Derek Jeter Card, one of just 30 made.
The auction site listing said the company has only listed one other such card—and its quality graded out at 8.5 on a 10-point scale. This card had a grade of ’10.’ So, it is a rare rookie card, in immaculate condition, of one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game.
It will be interesting to see what it goes for in another decade or two.
In the meantime, the New York Yankees could have used some of Jeter’s magic in this year’s post-season. The team’s season just ended after losing to the Houston Astros in the ALCS, quashing their dreams of a World Series appearance.