More Beckett silliness

July 29, 2008 at 10:10 pm | Posted in Beckett | 6 Comments

Earlier today, I was enjoying Chris Olds’ excellent Sports Stuff blog on the Orlando Sentinel web site when I came across an article on Goose Gossage’s rookie card.

Here is an excerpt from it:

But the best part of it all? You can afford to own his rookie card.

His 1973 Topps card (No. 174), which shows him in the Chicago White Sox’s short-lived red uniforms three years after he was drafted, is worth just $6.

Not bad considering the guy is a nine-time all-star, a dominating closer in his time who is 18th on the career saves list, a guy with 1,502 strikeouts in 1,809 innings who carries a 124-107 record with a 3.01 career ERA.

Wow, that’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? $6 for a 35-year old rookie card of a Hall-of-Famer! Well, it would be amazing if it were true. No, I’m not insinuating that Chris is lying. He’s simply relying on the laughably unreliable Beckett value of the card. I pulled out the June/July issue of Beckett Baseball and sure enough, it lists the Gossage rookie as having a “low value” of $2.50 and a “high value” of $6.00. I remember seeing the same values online at the beginning of this year.

I knew right away that this was inaccurate because I have looked for the card on eBay multiple times since the announcement of Gossage’s election to the Hall of Fame in January. I checked again today. The only Gossage rookies that you can find for $6 or less are in terrible condition or are considerably off-centered. Realistically, you can expect to pay at least $12 for an ungraded Gossage rookie in NM condition, $20-$30 for a PSA 7 with no qualifiers, and $35-$40 for a PSA 8 with no qualifiers.

How could Beckett have missed the upward trend in the value of Gossage’s rookie card after his Hall of Fame election? It’s clear that they don’t actually track the selling prices that 99.9999% of the cards that they list, but come on, it’s common sense that the value of someone’s rookie card is going to go up when they make the Hall of Fame. It would have taken five minutes for someone working at Beckett to check eBay and other web sites to notice that the card has been selling for much more than the listed book value and to increase the book value accordingly.

I remember reading Beckett in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the pages of the price guide would be filled with up and down arrows, showing that the value of various cards had increased or decreased in the last month. Currently, Beckett’s baseball price guide is only published once every two months, so you’d think that there would be even more changes in the card values. You’d be wrong. In the June/July issue, page 41 includes every baseball card set between 1972-1981. There isn’t a single up or down arrow on the entire page.

Figuring that the prices of newer cards would be more volatile, I flipped to page 256, which contains the prices for several 2007 Topps sets. There are only two arrows on this page. Beckett says that the value of the 2007 Topps Gold Daisuke Matsuzaka dropped to a low of $8 and a high of $20. Also, the Poley Walnuts card in 2007 Topps Update decreased to a low of $12.50 and a high of $30. Putting aside how ludicrous it is that only two cards on this page had any change in value over a two-month period, I checked eBay. The Dice-K card recently sold for 99 cents (plus $3 shipping). To be fair, the Poley Walnuts card ranged from $16.50 with shipping to about $30.

So all of this is just another example of Beckett’s decreasing relevance to the modern baseball card hobby. If your interest on this subject has been piqued, check out this outstanding post on Sports Cards Uncensored, and my own views on Beckett here.


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  1. Considering the “bump” Goose has received over the last few days, his RC is now selling for considerable more than $2.50/$6. That’s what happens when you publish a magazine that’s only updated every other month.

    Also, keep in mind, that not all Goose Gossage RCs are sold exclusively on eBay. So while some cards may sell on TWGM for as much as $12, they may sell for more (or less) at a card show in Lubbock.

    As for the .99 cent Dice-K, more than likely it is a statistical outlier. Most Dice-K Gold cards probably still sell in the $8/$20 range (again, not all Dice-K Gold cards are sold on eBay).

    Hmmm… this would make a good Joe Collector post.

  2. great post dave…

    I guess overshot the starting bid on my$9.99 Dice K 07 Topps Chrome Refractor, huh? Crap…

  3. My god, Chris is more obsessed with his definition of a Joe Collector than I am with the correct one. Jesus.

  4. It’s not just a bump over the last few days, Chris. I’ve been looking at Gossage rookie cards on eBay since January, and they’ve been selling for much higher than $6 all year. I’m pretty sure that they were selling for even more than they are now back in January when it was announced that he was elected. Beckett clearly dropped the ball with this card when it should have been very easy for them to detect that the value was increasing.

  5. This may be the best post about problems with Beckett to date–there’s a lot of speculation and conjecture regarding a lot of their problems, but this is clear fact.

    And how is there a “correct” definition of a “Joe Collector”?

  6. I also remember those days when the Beckett was sold on a monthly basis, and every page was filled with up and down activity.

    I’ve not been into collecting since the early 90’s, so I haven’t seen a recent copy of Beckett. However, based on your assessment, I’m not sure if Beckett is worth picking up.

    Thanks for bringing light to the situation, and keep up the good work!

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