Auctioneer Heritage Auctions has set a new record for the world’s most valuable sports collectible when it sold the most expensive baseball card in history for $12.6 million during its Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction last Sunday, August 29th.
What is the most expensive baseball card ever?
The world’s most expensive baseball card is a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card previously owned by Anthony Giordano. Graded a Mint+ 9.5 by Sportscard Guaranty Corporation (SGC), the card was bought by Giordano from the late sports memorabilia collector Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen for a then-record-setting price of $50,000 in 1991. After the purchase, Giordano kept the card hidden away — ungraded — for the next three decades until he came to Heritage earlier this year to finally bring the amazing memento to the market.
According to the auction house, the card was one of the 5,500 1952 Topps cards Rosen bought from a Massachusetts man in the mid-1980s. There were reportedly a number of Mickey Mantles in the old Topps Chewing Gum cardboard box that had been stashed in an attic for more than three decades, but none was nicer than the one Rosen sold to Giordano.
In a letter for Giordano, Rosen wrote that the card in question was in his “estimation the finest known example in the world.” And that proved to be true when Heritage took the card to SGC, which resulted in the previously mentioned extraordinary grade.
“It bears the finest qualities any 1952 Topps can possess: perfect centering, registration, and four sharp corners,” Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Auctions at Heritage, said in a statement. “That this Mantle rookie card remained in this condition for 70 years is a true miracle.”
The Mickey Mantle card isn’t just the most expensive baseball card ever. It’s also the world’s most valuable sports card sold at auction, surpassing the previous highwater mark set by the T206 Honus Wagner that sold for $6.6 million in 2021.
As mentioned above, the Mickey Mantle card is also the most valuable sports collectible ever sold at an auction. It outdid the record achieved earlier this year when the jersey worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the so-called “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup sold for $9.3 million.
“An eight-figure auction result in the sports market was the stuff of fantasy just a decade ago,” said Ivy. “We always knew this card would shatter records and expectations. But that doesn’t make it any less of a thrill to be part of an auction during which a single item breaks the eight-figure threshold for the first time. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment for our wonderful team of sports experts at Heritage Auctions. And, of course, we could not have done it without our consignor, Anthony Giordano, who put his trust in Heritage to bring this amazing card to market.”
The name of the new owner of the record-breaking card has not been revealed.
Who is Mickey Mantle?
Nicknamed “The Commerce Comet” and “The Mick,” Mantle was an American professional baseball athlete who played his entire Major League Baseball career from 1951 to 1968 with the New York Yankees as a center fielder, right fielder, and first baseman. Regarded by many as the greatest switch hitter in baseball history, Mantle was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
Mantle was also one of the greatest offensive threats of any center fielder in baseball history. He has the second highest career OPS+ (on-base plus slugging) among center fielders, just behind Mike Trout, and he had the highest stolen-base percentage in history at the time of his retirement.