There’s nothing more quintessentially North American than collecting baseball cards. Many of us have fond childhood memories of trading our favourite baseball cards for one deemed much more superior. Whether you were saving a year’s worth of allowance to buy that precious memento at the card shop, or grinning ear-to-ear after finding your baseball hero hidden in that bubble gum wrap – there’s no doubt that baseball cards bring a certain joy to children and adults alike.
These collectibles are serious business with some cards fetching millions of dollars apiece. Although most of them are found in the United States, valuable ones can also be spotted in Canada, Cuba and even Japan. Rare cards are often the most expensive because they were part of a limited edition. But a card cannot only be part of a limited set to be deemed valuable. The owner must also keep it in perfect condition with no rips, fingerprints or weathered edging. Of course, autographed versions are worth considerably more.
Below are the 5 most valuable baseball cards in history. Would you pay this kind of money to be the proud owner of one of these?
#5: Lou Gehrig | 1933 Goudey | $275,000
It’s certainly no surprise why this card ranks at #5. Henry Louis Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games over a span of 15 seasons – rightfully earning him the nickname “The Iron Horse”. He was unanimously elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. This baseball phenom died at the young age of 37 from ALS – now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
#4: Mickey Mantle | 1952 Topps | $282,000
When fans think about the ‘Golden Age of Baseball’, it’s The Mick that first comes to mind. Mickey Mantle replaced Yankee superstar Joe DiMaggio as a powerhouse of speed and versatility. This particular card is in top condition and its value is sure to increase as the years roll by.
#3: Joe Doyle | 1909-1911 | $329,000
Joe Doyle was known as “Slow Joe” for the incredible amount of time it took for him to pitch a game and his habit of taking naps as the other team batted. But you know what they say: Slow and steady wins the race. Doyle made his mark as one of the greatest players of all time with an accomplished career spanning five years. He was the first pitcher in the American League in the 20th century to throw shutouts in his first two games. This famous card, aptly labelled “Hands Up”, comes in as the third most expensive card in baseball history.
#2: Babe Ruth | 1914 Baltimore News | $517,000
A slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees, George Herman “Babe” Ruth established several batting records during his stunning career. Ruth was known for his charismatic personality, making him a huge hit with fans during America’s “Roaring Twenties”. The Baltimore native was one of the first five players to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The feisty Ruth probably had no idea he’d become a legend when he abandoned his trade as a shirt maker to play baseball!
#1: Honus Wagner | 1909-1911 | $2.8M
And finally, the #1 most valuable baseball card in history is of course the Honus Wagner: 1909-1911 T206. Anyone who is a Honus fan knows he was passionately against smoking and objected to his image on tobacco products, which is why this card is so unique. The T206 series is famously known as the “tobacco cards”. That’s because they are the same size as cigarette boxes put out by the American Tobacco Company. And if you were open to dropping a cool $2.8M for this gem, then you’re out of luck. This card has already been sold to one baseball fanatic for that record-setting price!