The Most Expensive Sports Cards Ever Sold

Posted by Andres Gonzalez on

Did you know that the earliest known baseball card dates back to 1865? It was a visiting team card given out to fans at the stadium and featured the Brooklyn Atlantic's amateur baseball club. Despite its rich history, it did not end up being one of the most expensive sports cards ever sold. 

This card sold in 2013 for just $92,000 at auction. This price included an 18% premium which puts the card's actual worth at just $80,000. 

The value of these cards is based widely on their condition, their history, and if they have any autographs. Autographed cards may be worth more depending on the signer. Cards can also receive grades where outside companies evaluate the condition and value of your card and assign it a numerical grade from 1-10, with a 10 being in excellent condition.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the details of the most expensive sports cards ever sold.

Babe Ruth 1933 Goudey #53

The name Babe Ruth is synonymous with greatness, so it's only fitting he makes the list of most expensive sports cards. With nicknames like "The King of Swing" and "The Great Bambino", Babe Ruth is truly one for the record books. 

Four different Babe Ruth cards were released in 1933 as part of a larger 240-Goudey set. These cards show various poses of Babe with different colored backgrounds.

One was a zoomed-out batting pose of Babe. Another card featured a casual pose amidst a green background. The other two cards feature a portrait with and bat over his shoulder against either a red or yellow background, referred to as "Red Babe" or "Yellow Babe" respectively.

Although not the most expensive baseball card of all time, the sheer age of this card makes it difficult to find in decent enough condition to merit selling. But in July of 2021, a #53 PSA graded 9 Mint "Yellow Ruth" card sold for an impressive $4.2 million.

This card is still a rare treasure and an important piece of sports memorabilia.

2017 Panini National Treasures Platinum #161 Patrick Mahomes Rookie Autographed

Although not an antique, the 2017 Panini National Treasures Platinum #161 signed by Patrick Mahomes proves that you don't necessarily have to have an old card to have a valuable card. Patrick Mahomes plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has already bagged them 2 out of 3 Super Bowl wins in the past three years.

The 27-year-old quarterback is already a 2-time Super Bowl champion, 2-time Super Bowl MVP, and 2-time NFL MVP. This 1-of-1 rare 8.5 graded card sold in July 2021 in a private sale for $4.3 million making it one of the most expensive sports cards for football. 

Luka Doncic 2018-2019 Panini National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph 

Luka Doncic plays for the Dallas Mavericks as both a point guard and shooting guard. The 24-year-old Slovenian player has a two-year sneaker deal with Nike and is already a four-time NBA All-Star and Rookie of the Year, as well as one of the most expensive sports cards.

The rookie card was sold in a private sale in March of 2021 with a $4.6 million price tag attached. It features Doncic's signature in blue ink along with a "logoman" patch from his Maverick's jersey. However, there was some controversy surrounding the card when it was thought that his mother had signed the card in his name and not Doncic himself.

LeBron James 2003-04 Rookie Patch Autograph Upper Deck Exquisite

LeBron James has been a powerhouse for the Los Angeles Lakers since 2018. But before that, he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers for 11 seasons. One of the most expensive sports cards in basketball also belongs to the highest-paid player in basketball history.

The Beckett graded 9 rookie card features a photo of 18-year-old LeBron during his time with the Cavaliers. It is numbered 7 out of 23 and also contains his autograph and a patch of a piece of his Cavalier jersey. It was sold in April of 2021 in a private sale for a record-setting $5.2 million for autographed cards in basketball.

Steph Curry 2009 Panini National Treasures Rookie Patch Autograph

Steph Curry, the point guard for the Golden State Warriors team, has made his name known in the NBA since he started playing in 2009. The seventh overall pick in the NBA draft, Curry has 14 seasons under his belt along with multiple achievements and accolades to his name as a nine-time All-Star, two-time MVP, and four-time NBA champion for 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022.

The Gem Mint 10 graded 2009 1-of-1 Rookie Patch Autograph card features a "logoman" patch from an actual game-worn jersey by Curry. It slamdunks on the list of the most expensive sports cards with a value of $5.9 million when it was sold to the Alt Fund in July of 2021.

Honus Wagner T206

Honus Wagner played shortstop for the MLB from 1897 to 1917, primarily as a Pittsburgh Pirate. Only about 50-200 of these cards were ever printed due to a refusal by Wagner to have his name and likeness associated with cigarettes and the American Tobacco Company. That makes any card found to be extra rare. 

One card was sold in August 2021 for $6.6 million. While another Honus was sold a year later in August 2022 for $7.25 million in a private sale. The Honus Wagner card was one of the most expensive sports cards in baseball until another card took the title.

The King of the Most Expensive Sports Cards - Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps Rookie Card

Babe Ruth was called "The King of Swing" but it's Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees that takes the top title from our list of the most expensive sports cards. His 1952 rookie card is the stuff of legends.

This card sold at Heritage Auctions in August of 2022 for a whopping $12.6 million. The mint condition card received a grade of 9.5. It has been called the "finest known example" of sports memorabilia. 

The card also clearly boasts Mantle's autograph on the front. This makes it all around one of the greatest signed baseball cards in history, as well as Mickey Mantle autographed sports memorabilia items. 

Find More Amazing Autographed Sports Memorabilia at Sports Integrity Today

We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article on the most expensive sports cards. Finding and collecting autographed cards can be a fun and interesting hobby. You'll feel like you have a piece of history right in your hands. 

Sports Integrity has a wide variety of memorabilia, from signed football cards and signed baseball cards to other unique sports collectibles. We have over 20 years of experience in the sports memorabilia industry. Find everything you need only at Sports Integrity.

Contact us today with any questions or browse our full line of autographed sports memorabilia for yourself on our website. 

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