A League of Its Own

We all have a few sad childhood memories. One of our lowest moments was coming home for Thanksgiving freshman year to discover our younger brother had traded away our baseball card collection. We had gifted him the shoebox full of Topps stars that summer, assuming he would prize it highly. Turns out he prized his friend’s set of Hot Wheels® more.

This past heartbreak came to mind with news last week that an extremely rare 1952 Mickey Mantle had fetched $12.6 million at auction. Beyond the sentimental value, we’ve wondered over the years whether our lost contents might have included any similar gems (we recall a somewhat worn 1963 Sandy Koufax) that would have eased our retirement.

Covering the news, one sports reporter even coined a name for our anxiety: “Topps Transference Trauma.” Compounding the feeling was recent data from collectibles firm PWCC showing the index of “professionally-graded trading cards” sporting a 1346% ROI since 2008. (See our Chart of the Week). Compare that to the S&P 500’s 218% over the same period.