After years of hearing that the most visible athletes caught up in baseball’s steroid scandal had little value to collectors anymore, those who had Roger Clemens rookie cards in stock have seen their patience rewarded in the hours since Clemens was found not guilty of lying to Congress about the issue.
Whether collectors and/or speculators were bargain hunting, celebrating or just wanted one, virtually every reasonably priced early Clemens card was selling on eBay. They didn’t soar to 1990s levels, but they were moving. Clemens’ most expensive—and earliest true rookie card—the 1984 Fleer Update was coming out of closets at a fairly rapid pace. Between the afternoon hours of Monday, immediately after the news became public, until 7 p.m. Tuesday night, ten of them had sold via the auction giant. During the six previous days, only six had changed hands.
’84 Updates graded PSA 9 and BGS 9 were sold immediately after the verdict at $150 but the card was trading for as much as $200 by Tuesday. In April and May, they were bringing only $100-130. A PSA 10 sold for just $128 on May 2.
If you weren’t looking to make a killing, the last couple of days have been a great time to sell Clemens rookies. There’s a much larger supply of 1985 Topps, Donruss and Fleer Clemens cards than the ’84 Fleer Update and action was heavy, although prices ticked upward mostly on the ultra-high grade cards. Those who bought BGS 9.5 graded Clemens rookies in the spring, had a chance to make a few bucks during the initial rush. A 1985 Topps Clemens graded BGS 9.5, sold for $115 on Tuesday. Cards bearing the same grade had sold for as little as $45 just two weeks earlier.
Amazingly, a total of 70 of the former Cy Young winner’s most common rookie card, the ’85 Topps, sold from Monday afternoon through early Tuesday. You could still pick up a near mint, ungraded example for under $10 but for most sellers, just seeing them actually move at all was a breath of fresh air after years of steroid induced buying paralysis on the part of potential buyers.
Some were no doubt speculating that Clemens’ acquittal would mean renewed interest in his rookie cards. Several sold within minutes of the verdict, but prices didn’t move much after that. Long term, an acquittal may keep the Clemens rookie from turning into a long-term flop and if he’s elected to the Hall of Fame, another gentle push upward could be good news for dealers. You can see what’s happening on eBay right now, by clicking here.