Sports cards have been a popular collector's item since the late 1800s and have become increasingly valuable. While some sports cards are worth more than others depending on their rarity, condition, and desirability, certain sports cards are particularly valuable. These are player-specific cards featuring famous athletes from major team sports such as baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. Here is an overview of which players' trading cards are most valued in each sport.
The Honus Wagner Card
It's no wonder the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card appears three times on this list - arguably one of the most famous cards. With an outstanding career spanning over 20 years as a bulky shortstop primarily playing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 'The Flying Dutchman' became not only one of five original inductees into the Baseball Hall Of Fame in 1936 but also held his place amongst some of history's greatest all-rounders players too. Moreover, he was even immortalized by having Louisville Slugger engrave his signature onto their bats back in 1905!
From 1909 to 1911, Wagner cigarettes featured his image as part of the popular T206 series. This two-year window created some of the most expensive baseball cards, with a record sale topping $1 million in 2000. As time progressed and collectors grew more passionate about their hobby, other card sales exceeded this milestone figure; however, those from the T206 series remain incredibly sought after due to their colorful lithographs, unique size, and borders - not forgetting rarity!
Collectors consider the Honus Wagner baseball card the ultimate "Holy Grail" of collectible cards. It's believed that Mr. Wagner requested American Tobacco Company to remove his card from circulation, resulting in its limited production and rarity - today, it is estimated that only 25-200 copies exist worldwide! Now over one hundred years later, his wise decision has proven fruitful; His card is now renowned as the most valuable trading card on Earth!
Mickey Mantle Card
This 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle rookie card is one of the hobby's most iconic and sought-after cards. Although it often overshadows its 1952 Topps counterpart, this piece remains a collectible classic. Featuring an epic image of Mantle holding his bat with square white borders on each side, plus vertical text detailing him printed on the reverse—this card surely stands out from any other!
The card depicting Mickey Mantle as a young prospect is remarkable; he was playing his first game as part of the New York Yankees and still wearing number 6 on his back (later changing it to 7). Unfortunately, these cards are exceptionally rare and hard to find in decent condition. Of all 1515 known copies of this particular item, only a few will be traded or sold because many collectors wish to keep them for themselves.
According to many US betting sites, a 1952 Mickey Mantle card fetched an astonishing 5.2 million dollars. Even though it wasn't his rookie card, it is the player's most sought-after one - for a good reason! Firstly, its rarity; this was the first Topps baseball card to feature Mantle. Secondly, its visually appealing design has held up well over time – looking modern even by today's standards (considering that it originates from the 1950s). Last but certainly not least, a series of recent auctions have pushed prices higher than ever, with Wagner's previous record being surpassed at an incredible $3.75 million in May 2020!
Lebron James Logoman Card
This unique NBA jersey patch card is one-of-a-kind, with each player receiving only a single duplicate. To make them even more sought after, some of the cards also come with autographs! There are also dual and triple logo versions without game patches; if both players are superstars, these can be particularly valuable. It's not guaranteed, but it does give us an idea of what they could sell for in the market - making this item highly desirable.
The 2020-21 Flawless collection has pushed boundaries with its coveted Logoman cards. The LeBron James' triple login card has caused excitement amongst all collectors in the hobby, even capturing Drake's attention! This remarkable piece contains three logomania patches on one card: Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers - an impressive combination for today's most influential modern player. It is certainly a must-have item! LeBron James doesn't sign signatures for Panini, the NBA's official card manufacturer, making logon cards a coveted item. One of these rare gems recently sold at auction for an incredible $5.2 million! That amount proves how highly sought-after LeBron James' logon card truly is - after all, it's as big as it gets to The King.
Luka Doncic Logoman Card
It is no surprise that Luka Doncic's rookie cards are among the most valuable in modern sports trading card history. At merely 22 years old, he has already established himself as a superstar athlete and shows unlimited growth potential. Some suggest his progress surpasses LeBron James' development at the same age.
Although 2018-19 Luka Doncic Rookie Cards exist, they are not his original set. This distinction goes to the 2016-17 Upper Deck Turkish Airlines EuroLeague cards, of which he has two, and one even features an autograph! Furthermore, 2017-18 also features him in its collection, and a sole logon card fetched an incredible $4.6 million at auction. Undoubtedly these facts speak to how coveted Doncic's collections are for fans everywhere!