America has gone freestyle on the Michael Phelps’ 2004 Leaf Rookies & Stars autographed card, exploding in value on a daily basis.
Micahel Phelps mania is in full bloom as TV sets and computers around the world latch on to a story that was barely a blip on the sports radar screen when the month began.
As we reported earlier this week, the American swimmer’s assault on the record book has collectors, Olympic fans and history buffs chasing Phelps memorabilia…and would-be sellers scouring the closet for anything with Phelps’ picture on it.
It’s become clear that the 2004 Leaf Rookies and Stars autographed "Fans of the Game" card has become the focal point among eBay buyers. One of the signed versions of the card generated 38 bids and soared to $720.22 on eBay Thursday night. Two others sold quickly–one for $499.99 and the other for $449. The cards carry Phelps’ autographs on stickers which are attached to the card.
The card was part of a special "Fans of the Game" insert by Donruss that featured celebrities and their favorite sports teams. The cards were included in 2004 Donruss baseball and football products but hadn’t generated a lot of interest . The card was selling for $20-30 earlier this summer.
Phelps’ card shows him as a fan of his hometown Baltimore Ravens and quotes him as saying the only thing he wanted to do after the 2004 Olympic games was to "catch a Ravens game".
The Associated Press carried a story on the card Thursday. Tracy Hackler, an associate publisher with Beckett Media, told the AP that Beckett listed the card at a value of $150 on Wednesday and $350 on Thursday,. Those prices are likely to rise as Phelps chases Mark Spitz’ record of seven golds. The card could reach four figures if Phelps claims the record for most golds in one Olympic Games.
For those with less disposable income, the unautographed version has gone from most dealers’ $2 bin to eBay sales of $20 and up.
"It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in the trading card category," Hackler said. "We’re kind of in uncharted waters here," Hackler said. "No pun intended."
A signed, worn Speedo swimsuit signed by Phelps, brought $565.99 in another eBay auction Thursday.
List of Phelps items currently on eBay
Editor’s Blog: Phelps Creating Tiger-Like Memorabilia Run