UPDATE: The auction ended at $16,403 on Saturday evening with 84 bids.
By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor
It’s the kind of big card that we all dream about pulling.
It’s the reason, right or wrong, that many of us bust box after box hoping for the cardboard gods to grace us with the discovery of a lifetime.
It’s the card that justifies our obsessions and could help fund a collection elsewhere — or just pay off those bills that often come with the collecting habit.
For 31-year-old Leo Kim, it’s a reality, and it’s a $16,304 Stephen Strasburg SuperFractor found in a pack of 2010 Bowman that is up for grabs on eBay right now.
It’s a card that’s been written about countless times already, had more bogus bids than usual for a high-profile auction and it’s one that could pay for a new car — or a whole lot of baseball cards — once it’s sold.
What are his plans?
“I do not plan on making any big purchases with the money,” he said. “I plan on probably paying down some bills and that is about it.”
The long-time baseball collector said he focuses on Bowman more than other products, but he also dabbles in others.
“I normally buy a box or two of certain products and one or two cases of each Bowman, Bowman Chrome and Draft products,” he said. “The Super came out of a hobby box in a case I pre-ordered on eBay from Global Sportscards.”
So, what does one say when they discover the best prospect’s card — one so rare that they are found one in every 11,000 packs? (Those odds are for any SuperFractor … not specifically Strasburg.)
“My thoughts were ‘Holy [expletive], I can’t believe I got the card!’”
Earlier this month, he posted the card on eBay with a $20,000 Buy It Now option and received 37 offers. He declined all of them. About a week ago, he opted to re-post the auction, and after attention from Yahoo Sports, The Associated Press and countless other mainstream news outlets, the price sits in “brand new car” territory after more than 80 bids with roughly two more days remaining in the auction.
“The [Buy It Now] offers were lower than expected, but I was not sure if I was just expecting too much,” he said. “But I was happy to see the auction start off so well.”
Strasburg, who was the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft out of San Diego State, has humiliated most minor league batters this season, going 6-1 with a 0.99 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 45 innings. He’s expected to arrive in Washington, D.C., to make his debut in a Nationals uniform early next month. His utter dominance is nothing new as he recorded a 13-1 record with a 1.35 ERA as a junior last season, striking out 195 batters in 109 innings.
Oh, and Strasburg also had a 23-strikeout game in 2008.
Once the sale is completed the Strasburg card will set a new record for a SuperFractor, topping the $7,330 paid for an autographed Fernando Martinez SuperFractor from 2007 Bowman Chrome in October 2007.
“For a modern-era card to sell in excess of $10,000, especially a card that has not been professionally graded, is extremely rare,” said Beckett Baseball Senior Market Analyst Brian Fleischer, who documents baseball sales for Beckett Media. “Since Topps introduced the SuperFractor in 2005, we’ve only tracked five sales that have eclipsed $5,000.”
And all of those cards were autographed, this one isn’t.
The added attention from non-traditional hobbyists also has prompted at least three bogus eBay auctions — particularly obvious since the card is a 1/1 — and more than 70 canceled bids also that have had the auction price fluctuating.
“The attention from Yahoo really brought a lot of eyes to the auction, and a lot of bidders that just wanted to mess with it,” he said. “I did my best to cancel and block those I did not think they were real to keep the auction as honest as possible. EBay finally allowed me to add the option to pre approve bidders with about two days remaining.
“[I] canceled more than I care to count. After the Yahoo story, it seemed like I was canceling a couple times an hour.”
So think about that, collectors, you pull a dream high-dollar card and selling it becomes work. Just imagine how stressful it might be completing the transaction.
“It was stressful at first,” he said, “but then I just thought hey it will go for whatever it goes for. So I stopped stressing over it and ignoring all the detractors that had nothing good to say.”
So, are there any other drawbacks to a “dream find” like this?
“No real drawback in my opinion, he said. “I would rather have the card and deal with it then not have the card at all.”
Wouldn’t we all …
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.