A 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente rookie baseball card, graded PSA Mint 9, stunned the baseball card collecting hobby on Saturday night, Feb. 20, 2016, when it realized a world record price of $478,000, amidst spirited bidding, in Heritage Auctions’ $9.3+ million Feb. 20-21, 2016 Platinum Night Sports event in New York. “This is a high grade example of a very famous baseball card of one of the most legendary players to ever put on an MLB uniform,” said Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles Auctions at Heritage.
“Clemente has only grown more beloved and more mythical as the decades have passed since his untimely 1972 death in a plane crash while delivering relief supplies to Nicaraguan earthquake victims. The record price realized for this card is a testament to just how cherished Clemente still is.”
The card sold to an anonymous collector as the Heritage February Platinum Night Sports auction played out before a packed house at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The parade of some of the rarest and most sought-after sports memorabilia in the world soared to an auction total of more than $9.3 million.
The highest price realized in the auction came for another icon of the hobby, and of American Pop Culture, in the form of an extraordinary and rare 1952 Mickey Mantle Topps rookie baseball card, graded in Near-Mint to Mint 8 condition, which sold for $501,900, only the second time one of these cards has topped the half-million dollar mark.
“The 1952 Topps Mantle rookie has become the most recognizable baseball card in the world,” said Ivy. “Its profile, and price, has been rising steadily in the last few years. The price realized for this example just reinforces its place as the current gold standard.”