We decided to give the Throwback Thursday post a try this week! To make this one a quick read, we just jumped into the wayback machine and tried to find some old data on sportscards. After a couple of minutes of browsing we came across this list from the summer of 2002:
This list is from August 5th, 2002 featuring eBay's data on the best selling cards at the time. It's no surprise that Alex Rodriguez's top selling rookie card, the 1994 SP made by Upper Deck is leading the way that summer. He was in his second season as a Texas Ranger after signing one of the all time largest contracts in sports history. He lead the American league with 57 homeruns and 142 RBI. He would take home an AL MVP the following season. He was seemingly a lock for the Hall of Fame already...then. As you may know, this card has fallen considerably in value since then as collectors soured on him after constant headlines for the wrong reasons over the past decade.
It's little surprise to see Vince Carter and Allen Iverson on the list after their epic battle in the 2001 NBA playoffs during the Eastern Conference Finals. That is still one of the highest non-finals games of all time for television ratings. Vince Carter's 1998 SP Authentic is still a fairly popular card. Allen Iverson's 1996 SP is still a key for him. Both of these have lost most of their value as both players lost collector interest over time, but maybe a Hall of Fame induction will spark an uptick in prices.
Roger Clemens prices have fallen dramatically since then as well. Time will tell what happens, but 1985 Topps rookies are easily found for very little money on eBay these days. We recommend buying them graded as there are fakes and the graded ones, especially in 7 & 8 level grades are still very inexpensive. Mark McGwire is in a similar boat to Roger with his 1985 Topps USA Olympic rookie cards.
Michael Jordan's 1986 Fleer is generally in the top selling cards at all times. It falls out of the top 10 here and there, but it always will be among the most desirable cards of any player. Be very cautious buying these, we recommend these graded as well. Centered examples tend to bring premiums in any grade. If you can live with one being off center, you can score a real bargain.
The 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr is an iconic rookie card that also is usually always up on the best selling list. It was the first card Upper Deck produced for their new landmark set which changed the landscape of sportscards forever. Arguably the most popular modern card ever issued. We do not think it can get as valuable as many vintage cards because so many were produced, but they will always have some value due to the popularity. A blue chip card that most people want to own.
The 1995 SP Terrell Davis rookie card was huge in the late 1990s. He was as dominant a running back as the NFL has seen for a few seasons, but injuries took him down. This card had fallen in value and if memory serves, these were largely selling as a rebound for flippers heading into the 2002 season. Terrell never played again, so this flip did not work out. For now these are very inexpensive and if the Hall of Fame calls for him, they certainly would see a spike. Time will tell on his career as well, the downside being how short it was. As the all-time leading rusher for the Denver Broncos and a Super Bowl champion, these will always have some value as well.
The 1991 Topps Traded Jason Giambi was a big card in the summer of 2002. He had moved to the New Yankees after a few dominant seasons in Oakland winning the 2000 AL MVP award. He was key to helping the Yankees win a nother 2002 AL East title, leading the pinstripes with 41 Homeruns and 122 RBI. These are probably not going to be worth much long term. Collectors have little interest and with patience you can grab these for less than coffee and graded may run you several dollars.
Lastly, the 1992 Bowman Manny Ramirez. Manny mania was still big in Boston during 2002. Ramirez would get very hot in the summer of 2002 ending up winning the American League batting title for the only time in his career at .349. He overcame injuries in May and June that left him with mediocre numbers mid-season. He went on to hit 24 Homeruns with a .354 average in the second half. These had cooled since 2001 when PSA 10s traded north of $500 each, but they have moved to the icebox now where you can grab these very inexpensively. If he does not get into the Hall of Fame these will likely retain a small value in the future as he was such a character..."Manny being Manny"! as part of the storied 2004 Red Sox team.
It's disappointing to see nothing from the NHL, but do remember our best sale that year was a 2001 Upper Deck Young Guns Ilya Kovulchuk PSA 10. What a sharp card that was, will never forget it. He was the first Russian player selected first overall in the NHL draft in 2001. He had a great NHL career, but not as good as the hype he had back then, eventually walking away early to the KHL. He was going to put the Thrashers on the map and win a few Stanley Cups with them. The price has fallen dramatically on these, but they are still relatively scarce and sell for approximately $20 USD now.
We hope you enjoyed that quick trip down memory lane a little more than ten years ago! If you have stories of sportscards like this, feel free to share them with us!
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