The Sports Card Hobby: 2022 Year in Review

sports card hobby 2022 review mobile
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

As the year comes to an end, we decided to reflect on how the sports card hobby fared in 2022. We saw mergers in the collectibles industry that will have a crucial impact in the years to come. Some card markets skyrocketed, others nosedived, and many stabilized. Whether you are an everyday collector, a trading card entrepreneur, a shop owner, or an industry leader, there is something for everyone to take away from this year. 

Related: A New TCG Emerges!

Today, we will be highlighting the highs and lows of 2022. While we cannot touch on every hobby event from this year, we hope to showcase the biggest news in sports cards and give a glimpse into 2023.

Let’s jump right in!

1. Mergers and Acquisitions

fanatics topps
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

In January, the sports card hobby buzzed over Fanatics’ acquisition of Topps. While the move may not have been jaw-dropping, it still led to many pressing questions about the future of sports cards. Fanatics has become a juggernaut in the world of fan memorabilia, so it will be interesting to see how they approach The Hobby in the coming years.

2. The Great Logoman Chase

lebron logoman
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Watching hundreds of 2020-21 Flawless Basketball cases get ripped was confusing but so undoubtedly entertaining. LeBron’s triple logoman card was so sought after that it got celebrities like Drake to enter the mix. Case prices of Flawless jumped exponentially while the return on investment from a box plummeted. In the end, a few lucky individuals ended up with this gem from a Backyard Breaks livestream. The card sold for $2.4 million and became a remnant of the past; however, the triple logoman had the hobby on pins and needles for weeks.

3. Vaulted and Secured

ebay vault
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Many items were added to the collector’s toolbox in 2022. eBay launched its vault program, which enabled hobbyists to transfer their eBay purchases to a high-security vault. This came shortly after their Authenticity Guarantee rollout, a system that verified high-end purchases on the platform.

For more information on the vault, you can check out our Q&A from this summer.

4. The National comes to Atlantic City, NJ

national atlantic city
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

This year’s National, held in Atlantic City, NJ, was action-packed from start to finish. 

The showroom was brimming with wheelers and dealers. Buyers swapped Ben Franklin, Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Jackson for players such as LeBron James, Shohei Ohtani and Tom Brady. Furthermore, events like the CardCollector2 Trade Night gave collectors a chance to come together and converse without the overwhelming nature of The National.

CardTalk also hosted their second live event, which was a huge success. Tyler, Lou, Ryan, Jay and everyone else at ONE37pm did a great job of teaming up with eBay and making CardTalk Live an enjoyable experience for collectors and fans.

The countdown has already begun for the 2023 National, which will be held in Rosemont, Illinois.

5. The Holy Grail

Mickey Mantle 1952 Topps SGC 9 5
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Up until August of 2022, a trading card had never sold for over $10 million. This 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle SGC 9.5 was the first to eclipse that milestone by selling for a whopping $12.6 million. A classic cutout of Americana, this card will likely remain the holy grail of collectibles until we see a PSA 10 copy up at auction.

This card also solidified Mickey Mantle’s card market even further. Any Mantle from 1952-1969 has remained extremely popular over the years, and higher-graded copies receive a huge premium. If you are digging through Grandpa’s boxes, be on the lookout for #7 for the Yanks.

6. All Rise!

aaron judge superfractor
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Speaking of the Yankees, another pinstriped outfielder made waves in 2022. When Aaron Judge was at bat this year, it was a bad day to be a baseball. The 30-year-old broke the A.L. home run record after knocking number 62 out of the park this fall. His legendary performance sent the hobby into a frenzy, as many high-end Judges were traded at much higher prices than they had before.

The 2013 Bowman Chrome Aaron Judge Superfractor 1/1 sold for $324,000 in May; this came after the Yankees got off to a hot start in the spring. However, this card would likely double in value if it sold today. If Judge could lead his squad to a World Series title, this one may end up being one of the best modern baseball cards in existence.

7. The Little Boy From Rosario

lionel messi 2014 prizm world cup gold
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Lionel Messi was another athlete who rewrote the history books in 2022. The Argentinian captain lead his team to their first World Cup victory since 1986, a win that cemented Messi as the greatest player of his generation. It also helped to revamp his card market, and many of his rarer pieces were bought and sold in 2022. 

In fact, Messi’s most valuable card to date sold this April. The 2014 Prizm World Cup Gold shown above ended up at $522,000, making it the most expensive modern soccer card ever. After Messi’s striking performance in Qatar, we are willing to wager that the new owner of this card is feeling pretty good about the pickup.

8. A Base Card Crash

zion williamson prizm psa10
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

In addition to record sales, we saw a massive correction in spiked prices from the pandemic bubble. Base cards like Panini Prizm and Topps Chrome crashed in enormous margins, regardless of how well a player was performing. Take this Zion Williamson 2019 Prizm, for example. In late 2020, this PSA 10 was trading for around $800. Now, the card sells for $125-145 even though Zion is having an incredible run with the Pelicans.

This base card crash compelled some in the sports card hobby to pivot their pickups toward more rare and desired sets. If there is one thing we learned, buying what you love and going against the grain will go a long way.

What’s Next?

whats next 2023
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The landscape of the sports card hobby will be subject to immense change in the next few years. Nevertheless, we can still look forward to the National, new products coming out, and chances to buy the grails we’ve always wanted. Here’s to 2022, and we wish everyone a happy new year!

Did we miss any big hobby moments from 2022? Let us know @CardTalkPod on Instagram and Twitter!

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