Sports Card Market Report: August 2022

mobile slabstox trading card report
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

With the National Sports Collectors Convention in the rearview mirror, consensus from all we spoke with in the sports card industry was August would be a pivotal predictor for what’s to come for the rest of the year. If they’re right, vintage sports cards will be setting more sales records and soccer just may be a buyers market—not for the 2022 World Cup but looking ahead to 2026. 

There’s a lot that the data revealed for this month’s SlabStox August Market Report. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Take 1: ‘52 Mantle record sale rises vintage
  • Take 2: 30-day Sports Card Market Performance
  • Take 3: Deep Dive into pre-World Cup soccer market
  • Take 4: Tatis Jr. tanks 
  • Take 5: Who’s Hot/Who’s Not
  • Looking ahead—Shows worth checking out / Product Releases / Final Word

Join the SlabStox/CardTalk Pod collab. We join CardTalk each month to break down our monthly sports card market report. Stay tuned to social media for updates. 

If you want to receive this SlabStox Trading Card Market Report every month, subscribe to SlabStox’s Daily Slab newsletter, delivered to your inbox every morning at 7 a.m. ET. You’ll get daily updates to what’s happening, whose trending and what sports cards to target in the marketplaces.

DISCLOSURE: 

All market data in this report is from Card Ladder. Card Ladder is an independent, third-party partner of SlabStox, providing card collectors and investors insights to make informed, up-to-date data-driven decisions. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research before making a decision. 

Hot Takes: August’s Pivotal Sports Card Market Trends

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SlabStox

Take 1: Record ’52 Mantle sale fires up hot vintage market

There is only one place to start the August Sports Card Market Report and that is with the world record $12.6 million sale of the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle SGC 9.5 Mint+ sold in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, August 28 on Heritage Auctions. This marked the first time a sports card has sold for eight figures.

The 1952 Mantle now becomes the face of the sports card industry, and has earned some remarkable places in history: 

  • It is the most expensive sports item sold…ever. According to ESPN, this card sale passes Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” 1986 Argentina World Cup jersey, which sold for $9,280,00 on May 4, 2022. 
  • It is the most expensive sports card sold. The ‘52 Mantle also blows by the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner SGC 3 that sold for $6.6 million a year ago at auction. It has been widely reported that a T206 Wagner SGC 2 sold for $7.25 million in a private sale earlier this month. 

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The ’52 Mantle and T206 Wagner weren’t the only vintage cards making news in August. Just 10 days earlier, a 1954 Hank Aaron Rookie PSA 9 Mint sold on the PWCC Premier Auction for a record $720,000 (8/18/22), 36% more than the previous PSA 9 sold for on 12/18/21. It’s the highest anyone has paid for an Aaron sports card, which depicts the longtime home run legend (755, second all-time) in a Milwaukee Braves uniform.

It’s a vintage market.. Overall Pre-war Vintage and Vintage Index have led all sports eras, gaining 9.5% and 8%  YTD (year to date), respectively, and 2.2% and 1.28% for August. 

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INDEX Monthly Year-to-Date

SlabStox Bottom Line 

  • “The Mick” the icon. Mickey Mantle has long been the subject of the most famous sports card ever produced and for good reason. “The Mick” not only had the stats (2,415 Hits, 536 HR, .977 OPS), the awards (3 MVP) and the championships (7), but he also had the benefit of being the most famous rookie (up for debate thanks to the 1951 Bowman) from the first ever Topps set. Add all that to the highest sale of any sports item ever sold and you get the most iconic card ever made. 
  • The tide rises all Mantles. The ’52 Mantle, no matter the grade, sells for big money. An SGC 3 that just sold for $78,000 (8/18/22) via PWCC Premier Auction, increasing 150% in just two years. The hype of the 1952 Mantle SGC 9.5 Mint+ that just sold for the record $12.6 million, combined with a hot vintage market, has helped all 1952 Topps Mantle cards out.

Take 2: CL50 turns the tables on comparable investment indexes

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INDEX % Chg

August was a big month of the Card Ladder 50 (CL50), a representative index of 50 highly transacted cards to reflect the overall trading card market. The CL50 jumped 16.42% for the month, a huge switch from June (-14%) and July (-3.4%). Big gainers in the CL50 include a mix of vintage and modern-era cards: 

  • 2001 Topps Chrome Traded Albert Pujols #T247 RC PSA 10 (+39.78%)
  • 1952 Topps Willie Mays #261 PSA 5 (+29.60%)
  • 2003 Topps Chrome LeBron James #111 RC PSA 10 (+13.08%)

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While the CL50 is a representative index of the sports card market, it doesn’t tell the full story. 

Here’s what you should know about the August sports card market: 

  • Vintage categories are holding strong.
  • Mid-end cards ($500-$5,000) outperformed all other price categories (-3%), a better performance than July (-4.1%). 
  • All sports card categories were down in August with the exception of golf, which was up 4.46%. Baseball led all sports categories tracked in this market report, down 0.32%. 
  • Racing, driven by the popularity of the 2020 Topps Chrome F1 product, dipped into the red for the first time, -2.17% YTD.

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Take 3: Where does the World Cup Soccer Card Market go from here?

The buzz in the soccer card market has been humming for the last 2 to 3 years in anticipation of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Collectors and investors from all card categories quickly dove into the soccer market in 2020 for the chance at World Cup flips at a market high. With the way the soccer card market has played out, clearly the boom has subsided. The hype has turned to a murmur—the current soccer sports card market has been trending downward in 2022, down -17.54% YTD and -3.41% in August. 

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SlabStox

With less than 90 days before the opening match on November 21, the fever pitch for the world football market has likely passed. According to soccer card collector Andrew Hulke, @st._croix_cards, it will take smart investments and knowledge of the club market to make the right moves for November’s World Cup, where performance on the pitch will reward those holding the right cards.

“When you talked build up to the World Cup a few years ago, you saw massive spikes in certain cards and certain players—you saw astronomical sales and prices,” Hulke says. “We’ve gotten to the point where that explosion has subsided and not every card is going to make you money overnight.

“A lot of people have acquired and held cards in the build-up to the World Cup,” he adds. “I’m interested to see when the floodgates open for that stuff. There are people who don’t know soccer and they are holding stuff that they don’t even know if it’s relevant.”

A prime example—some collectors might be sitting on soccer sensation Erling Haaland in anticipation of a World Cup bounce. However, Haaland’s Norwegian national team did not qualify, and he will not be competing in the 2022 World Cup.

“The hardcore diehards are really looking for who they need to invest in. Who will be that breakout star in the World Cup?” Hulke says. “Then you have this whole subset of collectors who look at the soccer card market for financial gain.” The big question is, will those card investors bail out after this World Cup? 

Some trending cards in the soccer market after the first month of domestic leagues:

  • 2020 Prizm Marcus Rashford Kaboom! PSA 9 (+99.72%)
  • 2019 Topps Chrome UCL Ansu Fati (+29.87%)
  • 2021 Donruss Erling Haaland Kaboom! PSA 10 (+22.73%)

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SlabStox

Rashford and Fati’s increases are thanks to their early season form after bouncing back from injuries, while Erling Haaland’s increase is a product of an electric start to the 22/23 campaign (9 goals in 5 games). Interestingly enough, that card depicts him in his Norwegian kit. Unfortunately, we won’t get to see Norway in November on the biggest stage.

Here are some important soccer card market dynamics to understand and think about when accessing the market heading into the World Cup:

  • Room for growth. The soccer card market has grown exponentially over the last few years, but it’s still in its infancy compared to other sports. 
  • Looking ahead to ‘26. Soccer collectors are excited for the 2022 World Cup, but the bigger play will likely be 2026 when the World Cup comes to North America. The field will be expanded to 48 teams vs. 32 in the 2022 World Cup. Therefore Italy, which failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup after winning the Euro, and Haaland’s Norway will be more likely to play in 2026. That’s a long way away.
  • Beating the heat. The 2022 World Cup is starting in November to avoid the heat of Qatar’s summer. For the U.S. that means World Cup soccer will compete directly with the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. “The piece here that is missing—the World Cup will be around and you’ll hear the buzzing, but most people can’t sit down and just binge watch like they could if it were in summer, especially the younger kids who are into soccer but will be in school and busy with their own sports.” (Hulke)
  • Performance is critical. The market dynamic is very different now than it was 2 years ago. Soccer card movement will be directly tied to performance (Gabriel Jesus’ hot start)—if your player doesn’t stand out on the world stage, it will be difficult to see large price gains.

SlabStox Bottom line 

  • Opportunity is in the air. When the World Cup wraps up, it just may lead to the best buyer’s market in the past 3 years. If the soccer floodgates open with cards collectors have been sitting on, supply will far outpace demand, and prices could drop further.

Take 4: Tatis Jr.’s delivers a blow to baseball card market

Prior to 2022, Fernando Tatis Jr. would have been a solid buy for potential long-term gains. With his injury to start the year and other market factors, his card market had taken a downturn causing some doubt. All doubt is now gone as Tatis’ PED suspension has caused him to go from a player everyone wanted to hold long-term to a player people can’t sell fast enough. 

Anytime a player this young, this good and this hyped among all athletes comes crashing down, the sports card market is going to reflect that…quickly. There were huge losses (-36.36%) in the overall Tatis card market across the board since the PED suspension was announced. 

Frenado Tatis Jr. Overall Market Slide Since August 12, 2022

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SlabStox Bottom Line 

  • Even when buying what might seem like a surefire player, there is still risk. Tatis Jr. was and still is collected by many people out there. It might be Tatis today, but tomorrow it could be any other bright young star.

Take 5: Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

HOT: Max Verstappen

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SlabStox

8/6/22: Max Verstappen 2020 Topps Chrome Superfractor Auto 1/1 PSA 9/9 sold for $534,000 - the most expensive Max Verstappen card ever (Goldin Auctions)

NOT: Cade Cunningham

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SlabStox

Whenever a new product releases and the first graded copies start to hit auction, timing is everything. Some can sell higher than others (8/14/22: Jsy #2/125), but most of the time, they decline until a floor is found.

Looking ahead

Sports Card Shows Worth Checking Out

Sept. 2-4: 

  • (Sept. 2-4) Collectibles on College - Arizona State Card Show, Phoenix, AZ
  • (Sept 2-3) Fort Lauderdale Card Show, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • (Sept. 3-4) A-Z Cards and Collectibles, Clovis, CA
  • (Sept. 3-4) Hobby Slam Card Show, North Miami, FL
  • (Sept. 3) Blue Ridge Card Show, Blue Ridge, GA
  • (Sept. 3) Fat Daddy’s Sports Card Show, Oak Creek, WI
  • (Sept. 3) Great American Sports Memorabilia Show, Xenia, OH
  • (Sept 5) Shipshewana Labor Day Card Show, Shipshewana, IN

Sept. 8-11

  • (Sept. 8-11) Dallas Card Show, Allen, TX
  • (Sept. 10-11) Twin Oaks Card Show, Auburn, WA
  • (Sept. 10) Northern Illinois Card Show, Rockford, IL
  • (Sept. 10) Twin Cities Sports Collectors Club Sports Card Show, Bloomington, MN
  • (Sept. 10-11) Syracuse Sports Card Show, East Syracuse, NY
  • (Sept. 10-11) Columbus Sports Card Show, Hilliard, OH

Sept. 17-18

  • (Sept. 17-18) Twin Oaks Card Show, Portland, OR
  • (Sept. 17) Lake Country Card Show, Oconomowoc, WI 
  • (Sept. 17) J&J All-Star Sportscard Shows, Milltown, NJ
  • (Sept. 17-18) Silicon Valley Trading Card Show, San Jose, CA
  • (Sept. 18) Sports Card &  Collectibles Show, Wilmington, DE
  • (Sept. 18) West Palm Beach Sports Cards & Collectibles Show, Greenacres, FL

Sept. 23-25

  • (Sept. 23-24) Tampa Bay Sports Card Show, Tampa, FL
  • (Sept. 23-24) GG2 Sports Card Show, Springdale, AR
  • (Sept. 23-25) Philadelphia Sportscard & Memorabilia Show, King of Prussia, PA
  • (Sept. 24) Magnolia Sports Card Show, Brandon, MS
  • (Sept. 24) Red Cedar Sports Show, Lansing, MI
  • (Sept. 25) Ramada Hotel & Convention Center Sports Card Show, Cedar Rapids, IA

September: Important Product Releases

Many product releases have been delayed by manufacturers due to supply chain issues. The release dates below are subject to change by the manufacturer. Dates provided by Cardboard Connection.

Sept. 2: 2021 Optic Basketball

Sept. 9: Topps Merlin Chrome UEFA

Sept. 14: 2022 Topps Formula 1

Sept. 21: 2022 Prizm WNBA

Sept. 23 : 2022 National Treasures Road to the World Cup Soccer

2021 Select Basketball 

Sept. 30: 2022 Topps Chrome Baseball

SlabStox Final Word: 

There’s a ton to look ahead to for the sports card market. August was the perfect set-up month. Here’s a peek a what is coming: 

  • The NFL kicks off Sept. 8 at 6:30 p.m. ET when the Bills take on the Super Bowl Champion Rams. 
  • Aaron Judge is still in the hunt for 60 home runs. Stay up-to-date with MLB’s Aaron Judge Home Run Pace Tracker. If he breaks 60 it is the first time a player has done it since the “Steroid Era” [ 2001, Bonds (73) and Sosa (64)].
  • The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is less than 3 months away. Check out FIFA’s countdown with 100 Great World Cup Moments.
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