Sports Trading Card Price Tracker We talk a lot about price movement of single cards and sports trading card boxes on The Sports Card Show Podcast. Each month we'll pick some hot items in the sports card world and monitor the price action over the month. Sometimes we make prediction on if the price is going to go up or down.
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LeBron James

Surely LeBron James haters will continue to hate despite winning an NBA Championship for the first time last night. They'll say he needs to win "not five, not six, not seven" to earn their praise. That's okay, LeBron set a pretty high bar for himself, given that he is the 'chosen one'.

Speaking of high bars, LeBron James rookies have been the modern benchmark for what your autographs, rookies, and rare cards can sell for. In recent years, Panini has held an exclusive license to make NBA trading cards - while LeBron remains an Upper Deck exclusive athlete with regards to signatures. Aside from a handful of sets that get released (and usually show LeBron in his high school uniform) there are no officially licensed autograph cards with LeBron in a Miami Heat uniform made by Panini. So you can bet his autograph cards from Upper Deck are HOT sellers right now because he just has less stuff out there than most athletes of his caliber.

Given that LeBron's autographs are unusually rare because of his exclusive contract with Upper Deck, I wanted to track what people were paying for just straight cardboard with LeBron's face on it. The 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James rookie #111 was my choice because it was a card that could be easily found in good condition. In fact, the BGS Population Report states that as of 6/22/2012 3,896 had been graded with 1,873 being Gem Mint or BGS 9.5. Talk about an easy card to find in good condition - in fact more are graded Gem Mint 9.5 than Mint 9.0!

As you can see, collectors started to pay more for the 03/04 Topps Chrome RC right when it became apparent that King James was going to win his first NBA championship. I fully expect this card to continue to sell in the high $130's - $140's (if not higher) over the summer as LeBron and the Miami Heat go on their media tour as NBA Champions. With the upcoming unique 2012/13 NBA basketball card market that features sets with two rookie classes (because of the lockout) I would be cautious about buying LeBron now. Collectors will be forking over big dollars for cards next season, and don't you think Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd rookies are a little cheaper now over this time last year? If you think LeBron will win "not five, not six ...." you would be best to purchase at some point when people are hating on him again, because right now he's getting some much deserved respect for his basketball talents.

2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James RC Price Graph
Cards For Sale On eBay Right Now
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2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James RC #111 BGS 9.5
  • 1/2/2012 -- $102.50
  • 2/14/2012 -- $112.00
  • 3/14/2012 -- $98.00
  • 4/26/2012 -- $102.50
  • 4/29/2012 -- $111.09
  • 5/1/2012 -- $114.40
  • 5/8/2012 -- $117.49
  • 5/13/2012 -- $120.20
  • 5/24/2012 -- $126.50
  • 6/4/2012 -- $103.51
  • 6/10/2012 -- $102.50
  • 6/12/2012 -- $112.50
  • 6/14/2012 -- $112.50
  • 6/16/2012 -- $104.99
  • 6/16/2012 -- $119.50
  • 6/17/2012 -- $110.59
  • 6/17/2012 -- $110.00
  • 6/18/2012 -- $109.49
  • 6/19/2012 -- $121.50
  • 6/21/2012 -- $113.50
  • 6/21/2012 -- $132.50
  • 6/22/2012 -- $150.00

- Completed eBay Auction Data

What's It Selling For Now? 2003-04 Topps Chrome LeBron James BGS 9.5

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Matt Cain flirted with a perfect game before he actually threw one when he tossed 9 innings of 1 hit baseball (with no walks) against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 13. Fast forward 2 months later and one of the games most consistent pitchers made San Francisco (and MLB) history when he threw a perfect game against the Houston Astros on June 13, 2012.

Seems like everyone wants a piece of the perfect game, I've even heard of a bat company making exactly 2012 replica bats with Matt Cain's face on them to re-sell. I'm sure the streets after home games will be filled with guys selling bootleg Matt Cain Perfect Game items for the rest of the season too. And for as long as eBay has been around - Perfect Games/No Hitters have always been when savvy sellers unload cards to collectors. Human nature is somewhat tilted towards buying things that are hot (or in demand) and not buying things that are cold (or out of demand). This is obviously the reverse logic if you're trying to save money, but the sellers who part with Cain's cards during his perfect game "Honeymoon" period, are often taking advantage of a short term boost in demand/price.

You can see by the graph and price data from eBay over the last 6 months, Cain's 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks rookie card wasn't selling at super high prices despite having an All-Star like season before the perfect game. However, once he threw the perfect game on June 13th, his cards took off like a rocket, peaking at around $26 dollars ... or over $20 dollars more than most were selling for pre-prefect game.

Naturally a card that isn't all that particularly rare selling for $15+ dollars starts to draw more sellers to the market. At the same time, buyers excitement for a perfect game diminishes as the news cycle rolls over (which included a compelling NBA Finals match-up between LeBron James and Kevin Durant). Matt Cain's 2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks RC has now established a very healthy downtrend on eBay, and I expect this card to fall back into the $5 - $7 range here soon.

2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Matt Cain Rookie Card
I expect more collectors will recognize Matt Cain cards because of his perfect game, and he is having a very good career, but collectors could ignore his cards much like they were before the perfection as time passes.
2002 Matt Cain Bowman Chrome Draft Picks RC Price Graph

Pre-Perfect Game
1/15/2012 $3.14
2/5/2012 $4.49
3/9/2012 $5.50
4/30/2012 $3.50
5/4/2012 $2.25
5/7/2012 $2.91

Day Of Perfect Game
6/13/2012 $12.00
6/13/2012 $13.49
6/13/2012 $15.00
6/13/2012 $25.99
6/13/2012 $19.99
6/13/2012 $17.99

After Perfect Game
6/14/2012 $11.99
6/14/2012 $17.99
6/15/2012 $20.00
6/15/2012 $15.50
6/15/2012 $14.95
6/15/2012 $12.95
6/16/2012 $14.38
6/17/2012 $15.50
6/17/2012 $10.50
6/17/2012 $12.00
6/18/2012 $9.50

Mixture of Buy It Now and Auction Data. Shipping is NOT Counted. This was for raw (or un-graded) copies of Matt Cain's
2002 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks #BDP25 rookie card sold on from January 1 - 6/18/2012

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How lucky do Colts fans have it? After a really bad season in 2011 because Peyton Manning was hurt, they get the #1 pick and land a new QB!! Sure, they probably are still rebuilding, but considering Andy Dalton (and others) turned a rather horrible Bengals team into a playoff participant - you never know what Andrew Luck might mean to the Indianapolis Colts this season.

Speaking of how much Andrew Luck means to someone, collectors are certainly already banking on this young man to be the next Peyton Manning. While his autographs come in an era that makes it difficult to compare to Peyton's 1998 Contenders Auto, the price people are willing to pay early on for his autographs on eBay is pretty high for Andrew Luck because of all the hype he got coming out of Stanford.

While the slew of 2012 Football Card releases have yet to start rolling out, one of the earliest sets of the year is 2012 Bowman Signature Football. Within this set, you'll find a few different Andrew Luck autographs. During the 1st month of sales - I found the best price data on eBay was for the refractor autograph #BCRA-AL pictured to the right. I wanted to look at one of Andrew Luck's 1st major releases and see how the price went up/down just based purely on collectors supply/demand - as Luck has only played with the team on the practice field.

2012 Bowman Signature Andrew Luck Autograph Refractor Card
You'll notice on the graph below that the price has faded a bit during the first month, and has fluctuated, so there were certainly good times to buy/sell this card. My advice going forward on this card will be one of caution for buyers because I just recently did a piece where I covered Bryce Harper's Bowman Autograph card, and found the price continued to decline as more & more sets came out with his autographs. The same thing could happen to Andrew Luck, as Panini, Topps, and Upper Deck will be rolling out sets all season long with Luck's autograph. Because of this, even if Andrew Luck plays really well in 2012, I don't see much up-side with this card. You can also compare what Cam Newton's autograph RC sell on eBay to Luck's to get a base comparison for what collectors will pay for a #1 pick rookie QB who has an amazing season. Either way, it's a nice card, but a very risky buy at the current price levels because he hasn't played yet & more collectible sports card releases are coming.
2012 Bowman Signature Andrew Luck Refractor Autograph Price Graph
  • 5/31 $304.99
  • 6/3 $305
  • 6/4 $275.55
  • 6/5 $305
  • 6/5 $258
  • 6/5 $212.50
  • 6/11 $246.50
  • 6/14 $300
  • 6/15 $233.50
  • 6/17 $256
  • 6/17 $255

 

 

Completed Auctions on eBay for the first few weeks of release.

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