KSNF/KODE — A mint-condition Mickey Mantle baseball card recently sold for $12.6 million, blasting into the record books as the most ever paid for sports memorabilia, in a market that has grown more lucrative in recent years.

This past summer, the heavyweight boxing belt reclaimed by Muhammad Ali during 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle” sold for nearly $6.2 million.

All are part of a booming market for sports collectables.

Prices have risen, not just for the rarest items but also for pieces that may have been collecting dust in someone’s basement or attic. Most of those items make it onto consumer auction sites like eBay.

Jarred Jennings, a 43-year-old collector of sports memorabilia from Springfield, Missouri has collected sports cards since 1988, without a break. In fact, Jennings said collecting and selling sports memorabilia has been his main source of income for the last ten years.

“I’ve seen a huge surge in interest for sports cards and other memorabilia, which began around the time of the pandemic when everyone was locked down. A lot of collection interest was also spurred by the Chicago Bulls “Last Dance” documentary,” said Jennings.

You’ll find many of Jennings sports collectables on eBay.

One item he has listed for sale is a Mickey Mantle postcard from Joplin.

“Since I’m in the sports card industry, Mickey Mantle is always someone of interest, as far as collecting. It could be argued that he is the most collectable athlete of all time,” said Jennings.

Mickey Mantle postcard listed for sale on eBay (photo courtesy: Jarred Jennings).
Mickey Mantle postcard listed for sale on eBay (photo courtesy: Jarred Jennings).

Jennings said the Mickey Mantle postcard he has listed for sale on eBay was manufactured by Holiday Inn in 1962.

“Mantle was part of a hotel ownership group in the Ozarks. I grew up in Forsyth, Missouri and have always been interested in the Yankees baseball player.”

Market research and consulting firm, Decipher Market Insights, published its latest report, titled “Sports Memorabilia Market: Size, Statistics, Growth Trend Analysis and Forecast Report, 2022 – 2032.” The research estimates the sports memorabilia market size at $26 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $227.2 billion by 2032.

The report aligns with what sports memorabilia collectors, like Jarred Jennings, say about the growing market for sports collectables.

“Dramatic surge in interest towards collectibles has boosted the sports memorabilia demand. Demand has skyrocketed with digitalization (fueled by the COVID outbreak) and easy access to collectibles through legit online platforms. eBay highly benefitted from the lockdown situations which led to a huge upswing in online sales. Goldin Auctions has emerged as the largest auction house, doubling its sales in 2021. Sports memorabilia has emerged with immense potential for wealth management and investment firms. Grading services are expected to grow by leaps and bounds in future.”

Research by: Decipher Market Insights

Decipher Market Insights claims that sports cards have been especially in demand, as people spent more time at home, and an opportunity arose to rummage through potential treasure troves of childhood memories, including old comic books and stacks of bubble gum cards featuring marquee sports stars.

“The lure of making money on something that might be sitting in one’s childhood basement has been irresistible,” said Stephen Fishler, founder of ComicConnect, who has watched the growing rise and profitability of collectables being traded across auction houses.

“In a nutshell, the world of modern sports cards has been going bonkers,” said Fishler.