Mickey Mantle’s first baseball card is just as capable of astonishing feats as the late baseball player was during his playing days.
A mint-condition example of the Commerce Comet’s 1952 Topps trading card sold for $12.6 million to an anonymous collector early Sunday following a nearly month-long auction overseen by Heritage Auctions, reports The New York Times. The hammer price easily surpassed the card’s pre-sale estimate to make it the most valuable piece of sports memorabilia ever sold.
The 1952 Mantle is one of the most coveted baseball cards of all time. Although it’s frequently referred to as the switch-hitting slugger’s rookie card, it actually dates back to his second season with the New York Yankees. This particular example is known “The Rosen Find” because it was discovered among a lot of 5,500 baseball cards (which included 75 1952 Mantles) acquired by collector Alan Rosen during the 1980s. It has been graded a “Mint+ 9.5” by Sportscard Guaranty Corporation, and is believed to be the finest example in existence.
“It’s almost perfectly centered top to bottom and left to right. It’s got four sharp corners. The color is beautiful,” Chris Ivy, Heritage’s director of sports auctions, told the paper. “The fact that it remained in this condition for 70 years, prior to being graded, is truly a miracle.”
There was a strong belief before the auction that the card could fetch more than $10 million, and bidding had already eclipsed that mark weeks ago. The final $12.6 million sale price easily beats the record for sports memorabilia that was set earlier this summer when the jersey that Argentinian soccer icon Diego Maradona scored his “Hand of God” goal in sold for $9.3 million. It is also topped the previous record for a sports card by more than $5 million, which was held by a T206 Honus Wagner card that sold for $7.25 million in a private sale earlier this month.
Now that a new mark has been set, the question is how long will it stand. Even before this summer, records for sports cards and memorabilia have fallen with stunning regularity since the start of the pandemic. Still, considering how much this Mantle beat the previous mark by, we have a feeling this one just might last for a little while. Unless someone wants to pay the $18.9 million its new owner is willing to sell it for today.