A Piece of the Game

For many, the desire to collect sports memorabilia began with the first possession of a simple wax pack of baseball cards. For the cost of a nickel in 1952—and gradually increasing in price over subsequent decades—a fan could acquire between eight and a few dozen cards of current players per pack. Despite their unassuming appearance—and notwithstanding the critics who saw baseball cards merely as a hobby or diversion for young boys—there was gold to be found within those packages of wax paper complete with stale, chalky sticks of pink bubble gum. As proof, the most pristine example of a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card—considered by industry experts to be the most valuable postwar sports card—sold for $275,000 a decade ago and is estimated to be worth more than $500,000 today.

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