Card Market Gone Nuts

While I understood a Honus Wagner card selling at auction for $6M last August, a pair of baseball card auction announcements has convinced me the market is truly insane. Honus Wagner was a hall of famer, and good quality examples of the T206 Wagner card are quite rare. They are, after all, 113 years old. It’s the Holy Grail of card collecting. However, we can now say a T206 Honus Wagner Card is worth significant money no matter what its condition is. One in which 1/3-1/2 the card is torn away/gone (including part of Wagner’s face) STILL fetched over $475K at auction. Yeesh! The card condition grading gurus at PSA rated it ”genuine”—normally cards are graded 1-10 based on condition, but this one isn’t good enough to merit a number, just confirmation that it is real.

The other example of card collector nuttiness, to me, is more bizarre still. The card in issue: a 2020 Bowman Chrome Prospects Autographs Superfractor Jasson Dominguez card. It is one of those artificially rare 1 of 1 cards—ie, they only made one card. It’s autographed. The card is refractive/shiny. Oooooh. …and who is Jasson Dominguez? He’s a minor leaguer in the Yankees system. He was highly coveted in 2019 and signed with the Yankees garnering a $5.1M bonus. Thanks to the COVID pandemic, there was no 2020 minor league season, so he stayed at a training academy in the Domincan Republic. Last year he played center field in Rookie and A ball. In 206 at bats, he hit .252/.353/.379. He’s still regarded as a top 100 prospect, but hardly a sure-fire future major league player, let alone future star. …and yet somebody paid $474K for that card of him. That kind of money being speculated on someone who may or may not some day be famous is just bat crap crazy.

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