Over the past 5 years, interest in the top sports cards to invest in has grown exponentially. This exciting market continues to grow year-over-year, with no signs of stopping.
I’ve collected sports cards all my life – but only recently have I started sharing my recommendations with my Trade of the Day readers.
My very first pick was a series of “secret” Michael Jordan rookie cards. At the time of my recommendation, the Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer PSA 10 was around $96,000. Less than a year later – it has exploded in value – breaking the $220,000 level at a recent auction. Check this out…..
Based on this success, I’ve posted 5 more cards below that I believe would double in 2021. Here are my picks – and my rationale. Let’s make some money!
#5 Sports Card to Invest In: 1980-81 Topps Larry Bird / Magic Johnson RC
The massive rise in Michael Jordan cards was thanks to the huge popularity of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance. And guess what? There will soon be a new Magic Johnson documentary set for 2021.
According to reports, Magic has granted film crews “unprecedented access” for the making of the film – and the stories will undoubtedly be legendary. Remember Showtime in LA? Magic is the original rock star/athlete – and this is going to be fantastic television.
Without question, these stories will also involve Magic’s biggest competitor – Larry Bird. And Larry’s stories are equally as legendary. And that’s where the trigger catalyst comes into play for this sports card pick….
You see, as luck would have it, Magic and Larry’s rookie cards BOTH come on the exact same card! That’s right, you get 2 HOF rookies – both on one card. It’s two for the price of one – making the 1980-81 Topps Larry Bird / Magic Johnson RC one of the most unique sports cards in existence. Now here’s the key…
As of today, there’s no release date for this Magic Johnson documentary. It just says “sometime in 2021.” So, the play is to get this Magic/Bird rookie card AHEAD of the release date. If the coming documentary has anywhere near the same impact at the Last Dance did for Jordan rookies, then the time to buy the Larry/Magic RC is now! Oh, and here’s another little secret….
Printing presses in the early 80’s weren’t all that sophisticated. As a result, many Magic/Larry rookie cards contain a printing defect – which is a small black line – in lower right-hand corner. Collectors are funny – and any imperfections – even minor ones – devalue the cards. So, the big play is to get a high-graded RC (7, 8, or 9 rating) WITHOUT the black printing defect. That’ll the sweet spot. NOTE: I posted an entire video on why I like this card.
#4 Sports Card to Invest In: 1910 E90-2 American Caramel Honus Wagner
Next on our list of top sports cards to invest in for 2021 is the 1910 E90-2 American Caramel Honus Wagner. This card has a cool story – and big potential – so let me explain the investment rationale….
As I’m sure you know, the T206 Honus Wagner (pictured in yellow below) is one of the most expensive – and sought after – sports cards in history. At a recent auction in October of 2020, this card sold for $3.25 million. At the time, this was the most anyone had ever paid for a vintage sports card (more on that in a moment).
Why is this card so valuable? Well, it comes down to scarcity – which came from a disagreement. You see, the legend goes that Wagner had a dispute with American Tobacco (which was the company that produced the card). Nobody knows the root cause of the dispute for certain – but some speculate that Wagner was ticked off because American Tobacco was using his likeness without paying him enough. Others speculate Wagner was upset that his image was associated with tobacco – which meant that children were having to buy packs of smokes to get his baseball card. Whatever the reason, American Tobacco pulled this card from production – making it a true rarity.
How many of these cards actually exist? Nobody knows for certain. Some guess the total number is less than 60 – which is why this card sits atop the Mount Rushmore of baseball cards. It’s the most sought-after baseball card in existence today.
Ok, so why do I like the 1910 E90-2 American Caramel Honus Wagner?
Well, unless you’re Wayne Gretzky or Charlie Sheen, you probably don’t have a few million to go out and buy this card. And that’s why I believe the blue version of this card – the E90-2 American Caramel Honus Wagner – is now investment grade.
You see, unlike the yellow version (which came in packs of smokes), the blue version was issued in packs of candy caramels – one card per package – and sold to children. This made these caramel cards a lot harder to survive in good condition. Just image – you’re a kid 120 years ago – tearing open a candy wrapper to eat a caramel. Do you think any kid would carefully handle the baseball card found inside? Not likely.
Furthermore, if you’re a serious baseball card collector – and you want to have some exposure to Honus Wagner in your collection (but you can’t afford dropping 7-figures on one single card card – which basically means everyone reading this right now), the next best alternative is to get the blue 1910 E90-2 American Caramel Honus Wagner variation. The picture is nearly identical – and the story behind the card is just as cool. In my view, this will make this card highly desirable – which could rapidly increase the values of any mid-grade to high-grade survivors.
#3 Sports Card to Invest In: All Jackie Robinson Rookies
- 1948 Leaf Jackie Robinson RC #79
- 1949 Bowman Jackie Robinson RC #50
This pick has truly historical significance…
Here in 2021, we’re living in the era that’s seen the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In response, athletes like Lebron James, Michael Jordan, or Stephen Curry – and entertainers like Drake, Common, Chance the Rapper, and J Cole – all stand united the common cause of social equality.
What you have is a groundswell of support behind racial injustice and racial equality. These issues have now been throw into the forefront by high-profile people of color.
In my view, this will lead to re-rating the first person to break the color barrier in baseball – Jackie Robinson. He was the original pioneer of racial equality in baseball. As a result, his rookie cards will take on a higher significance in the history of the sport and our country. Jackie Robinson rookie cares now represent a profile in American history – as he pioneered the first step towards the movement we’re seeing grow stronger here in 20201 – and that’s why I believe his rookie cards will continue increasing in value.
#2 Sports Card to Invest In: 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle
Say this with me….
That’s the price that Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps PSA 9 baseball card just sold for a recent PWCC Marketplace auction in November of 2020. This was the highest-selling sports card of all time.
So, when it comes to a player like Mickey Mantle, a rising tide lifts all boats. A new record high from his ’52 Topps card means that you’ll seen see a trickle-down effect on all of his other cards we well.
That’s where the ’55 Bowman card comes into play….
You see, I love condition-sensitive cards. These are cards that are very hard to find in good condition. Sometimes, the issue is centering. Other times, the issue is sharp corners. But whatever the reason, certain years and card designs make it more difficult for a card to be in pristine condition.
When it comes to Mickey Mantle, I consider his 1955 Bowman card to be the most condition-sensitive card – and that’s exactly why I like it. The centering is tricky…..the old-school wood-grain boarder is impossible to keep sharp…..and the edges often fray. If you can find a 7-10 graded ’55 Bowman specimen, I believe it’ll see strong upside increases – driven by Mantle’s rapid RC increase in the most recent auction.
#1 Sports Card to Invest In: 1986 Marketcom SI Michael Jordan Test Sticker RC
The final card on our list of top sports cards to invest in for 2021 is… Ok, ok, I admit… I couldn’t offer you my top sports card picks for 2021 without including Michael Jordan. So, with my last and final pick, I have the best Jordan-era rookie that you’ve probably never seen before.
Truth be told – this isn’t even a basketball card at all. It’s actually a “Test Sticker” that was only released to owners of sporting goods stores to preview the upcoming Sports Illustrated posters. Therefore, this was never released to the public – which means it’s super rare.
If you think back to the days of old-school sporting goods stores – you’d have a display of posters that you could flip through – and these test-stickers were previews of what the sports shop owners could order.
In total, there were 20 different players in this preview test series. And as luck would have it, one of them was a rookie-era Michael Jordan card. It’s super rare – super scarce – and super hard to find in good condition. After all, most sports store owners displayed these under an acrylic sheet at their checkout counters – or slid them into the poster display – never in a million years thinking that they’d someday be valuable. That’s exactly why its’ such an incredible specimen to have today.
Of all the Michael Jordan rookie cards out there today – this just might be the rarest in existence. Also, it’s the most unknown – which is why I believe it has massive potential to dramatically explode in value. Watch out for fakes – always buy a graded example – but this just might be the best “unknown” Jordan RC available today.
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The images used within this post are courtesy of www.ebay.com.
About Bryan Bottarelli
Bryan graduated with a business degree from the highly rated Indiana University Kelley School of Business, and his first job out of college was trading stock options on the floor of the Chicago Board Options Exchange. He was mentored by some of the country’s top floor traders in the heart of the technology boom from 1999 to 2000, where he learned to identify and implement some of his most powerful trading secrets. Now he shares his secrets with a group of elite traders. We will be republishing some of his highly sought after content from his free e-letter, Trade of the Day.