Fans and collectors didn’t ‘discover’ the man called “Baseball’s Perfect Knight” in the wake of his death on Saturday. He’s always been among the most popular players of his era and collectors piecing together the sets he appeared on know he’s always had the star treatment. Yet whether it was newbies who thought prices for Stan Musial rookie cards would skyrocket or those simply wanting a little slice of The Man’s career, there was a run on them over the weekend and a rush on Musial autographs.
Musial was as important to Cardinals fans throughout the Midwest as Mickey Mantle was to Yankee fans. He may have been born in Pennsylvania but St. Louis was home from the time he put on a Cardinal uniform until he passed away after a long illness on Saturday.
Musial’s Bowman and Leaf cards are considered his true rookie cards, even though he appeared on a couple of obscure issues prior to ’48. High grade examples are hard to find. Of the 1,006 Bowman Musial rookie cards graded by PSA, just 48 had been given a near mint-mint 8, with just 15 9’s and one ten that was part of the Dmitri Young collection sold last year by SCP Auctions. There have been 549 of Musial’s Leaf rookie card to pass through PSA with just 25 rating an 8 and only 2 9’s.
Bowman Musial rookies brought $580-700 for EX 5’s. Prior to Saturday, most had been selling for $400-500. Collectors and fans were paying about $300 for VG-EX copies and a PSA 3 sold for $265.
Musial’s first card distributed in the US was actually the Bond Bread issue. A similar looking set with square corners rather than rounded, is easier to find thanks to a warehouse find years ago but still pricey and still a bit mysterious.
Musial also appears in the 1946-47 Propaganda Montiel Cuban set. Just eight have been viewed by SGC according to their Population Report, all low grade examples.
About 100 autographed Musial items were sold over a 24 hour period on eBay. Signed baseballs with authentication were bringing $100-150 in higher grade, about 30% higher than they were selling for last month. 8x10s sold for $75-100 while non-authenticated items and signed trading cards still traded in the $30-60 range.
A prolific signer up until a few months ago, Musial autographs have always been plentiful. He even carried small, signed pictures with him when out in public because of the demand. Later in life, he partnered with a local businessman to form Stan The Man, Inc., which offered a variety of signed items for sale over the years and also accepted items from the public.
Even in old age, Musial would faithfully show up to spend time signing items, even chatting at length with a few fans who happened to deliver items personally when he happened to be there. The store closed on Sunday, promising to full all previous orders but it’s likely those who tried to acquire signed Musial items will be turned away.