It was once just a rumor. Dmitri Young, big league first baseman, was buying baseball cards. Expensive ones. Buying cases and opening them in hopes of finding a ’10’. Auction houses knew. A few high end collectors, too. Young was too busy hitting to say much about it. Then, a couple of years ago, we got our first real glimpse of it. His playing career was over and the best of the Dmitri Young collection along with his 500 home run club autographed baseballs– were on display at the National Sports Collectors Convention.
It was one of those rare instances when truth was more impressive than speculation. Young had the best of the best–PSA graded gem mint 10’s of most major rookie cards in the post-War era. He was even there to talk about it. The cat was out of the bag and the rest of us underfunded mortals were just there to look on with awe.
The former first sacker’s high-end baseball card collection – widely considered to be the finest quality collection of Baseball Hall of Fame rookie cards in existence – is being broken up–sold one card at a time through SCP Auctions beginning Monday. The offering includes nearly 500 individual cards, including every Baseball Hall of Fame rookie card from 1948-90 and many other prominent player rookie cards. Young will use proceeds from the auction to start The Dmitri D. Young Foundation.
- The only 1955 Roberto Clemente Topps rookie card ever graded PSA 10 Gem Mint. Value $250,000+
- A 1954 Hank Aaron Topps Rookie card PSA 10 Gem Mint – One of only two cards have ever been graded PSA 10. Value $250,000+
- The only 1963 Pete Rose Topps rookie card ever graded PSA 10 Gem Mint. Value $75,000+
- The only 1969 Topps Reggie Jackson Topps rookie card ever graded Gem Mint 10. Value $30,000+
As with any major collector, Young said one of the greatest joys about the collection is sharing it with people. After more than 12 years of effort to build this world-class collection, he says the time has come for him to let it go.
“This collection has meant the world to me,” Young said. “All the hard work I put in on the baseball field over the years has been very important to what I do professionally, but I am also very proud of the hard work I have done in putting this collection together. I love the hobby and what it has meant to my life. I hope the legacy of this collection lives on for many years to come.”
The auction proceeds will allow Young to begin the Dmitri D. Young Foundation that will host baseball and softball camps and clinics, support of Boys and Girls Clubs and sponsor programs and scholarships for student athletes and their families in Young’s home area, Ventura County, Calif. The foundation will “help young student-athletes in developing a strong work ethic and healthy lifestyle through inspiration, education and opportunity, while imparting the importance of working hard and healthy living to be the best that they can be scholastically, on the field, and in their communities,” according to a news release.
“The cards have served their purpose for me,” said Young. “It is time for me to venture off to new things in my life. Giving back has always been a part of my plan. I have always taken pride in helping younger players during my MLB career and now it is time for me to give back to my community. More than teaching kids baseball, we want to teach them life.”
“Dmitri allowing us to reintroduce his collection back into the hobby honors us at SCP Auctions,” said SCP Auctions President David Kohler. “This auction represents a unique opportunity to obtain some of the most desirable cards in the world. We at SCP echo the wishes of Dmitri and (longtime baseball card dealer) Dave Bailey that the next owners of these cards will experience the same level of joy and pride of ownership that they have enjoyed.”
Born in Vicksburg, Va., on October 11, 1973, Young proved to be a strong and natural athlete from an early age, a gift he and his brother, Delmon, received from their father, one of the country’s first African-American F-14 fighter pilots. Dimitri’s passion for baseball and baseball cards began at an early age. By the time Young’s star began to rise during his time at Rio Mesa High School in Oxnard, Calif., the High School All-American had shoeboxes full of cardboard renderings of his big league idols.
Young was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals as a first-round pick and made a rapid ascent to the big leagues. Between 1996-2008 he starred for the Cardinals, Reds, Tigers and Nationals, posting a near .300 career average, appearing in two All-Star games and winning the 2008 NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
During his 13-year Major League career, Young’s financial wherewithal increased along with his desire to build a world-class baseball card collection. Young established a friendship with Bailey, who did much of the buying through auctions and private deals. A mutual big league friend had introduced the two.
Young considers Bailey’s guidance invaluable in helping him avoid many pitfalls of the hobby, including overpaying for cards from overzealous dealers with eyes for his big league bankroll. Wanting Young to have the highest level of comfort, Bailey took the time to teach his new client about cards. Around that time, Young decided to focus on Baseball Hall of Fame rookies from 1948-90.
“It is no secret that Dave Bailey is the architect of this collection,” said Young. “He lays down the groundwork and works out the deals for me. He knows what a fair price is and he knows how to negotiate the deal. At first, I felt like we were both just helping one another out, but as we became closer and became friends, I know he began to feel this collection was as much his as it is mine.”
During the better part of the past two decades, Young diligently built and maintained what is widely considered to be the finest quality collection of Baseball Hall of Fame rookie cards in existence. Both Young and Bailey say they have a story that goes with every card in the collection, from simple eBay deals, to weeks-long negotiations, and 11-hour road trips in pursuit of a missing gem.
The Dmitri Young collection auction will conclude on Friday, May 18, while the rest of the auction will end on Saturday, May 19. The auction will be conducted online at SCPAuctions.com. The spring auction will also feature hundreds of other historically significant sports memorabilia items and cards, including the earliest known jersey worn by Babe Ruth – one of the most valuable pieces of sports memorabilia ever brought to auction – and Bobby Thomson’s 1951 “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” cap.