Joe DiMaggio is one of a small number of players known well beyond the domain of sports. His 56-game hitting streak, set over 70 years ago, still stands. Of course, who can forget his three MVP titles, or his perennial all-star appearances? Joe DiMaggio baseball cards and autographs are on a short list of the most valuable of the post-War era but frankly, the number of truly great DiMaggio cards to collect are somewhat limited. His paid autograph sessions put thousands of DiMaggio signatures in the market, but prices remain strong, especially after his death in 1999.
The “Yankee Clipper”also gained notoriety off the field. His love for the ladies was eaten up by the press of the era. The country went into frenzy, with the marriage and quick divorce of DiMaggio to buxom beauty Marilyn Monroe. When Monroe died, DiMaggio was so heart-broken that for the next 20 years, he had a half-dozen roses delivered to her crypt. DiMaggio never remarried.
It's that iconic stature that helped DiMaggio memorabilia become so popular.
Collectability of Joe DiMaggio
“Joltin Joe” was never far from the public eye, both during and after his career. Because of the sustained media attention, coupled with his highly-talented on-field performances, collectors from all over the world actively seek his cards.
Joe DiMaggio collectors are incredibly diverse, with many individuals collecting him because of his association with the New York Yankees, his self-described "greatest ballplayer" status, or his membership on so many World Series teams.
Fringe collectors buy his cards because of his ties to Marilyn Monroe, other Hollywood starlets and his great impact on the Italian-American community. The latter is especially true for many Italians, who emigrated from Italy, after World War II. In DiMaggio, they held the belief that anyone could make it in America, if they worked hard enough and long enough.
Investment Quality of DiMaggio Cards, Memorabilia
Needless to say, Joe DiMaggio’s cards are highly sought after. It does not matter the card grade or the year, demand is consistently strong. Below are some examples of DiMaggiio items to consider. Click the title to see what may be listed on eBay at any given time.
Although they have risen in price, since his death, the fact remains that there is a significant supply of his signatures readily available. They are, however, still in demand. His status as a Hall of Fame player who spent his entire career as a Yankees icon and celebrity ensures strong interest. A single-signed DiMaggio ball will cost around $500, less or more depending on the grade, while you can still land a baseball card or small photo for a little under $300 with PSA/DNA authentication.
Top Joe DiMaggio Baseball Cards to Consider
(click the title of each to see them for sale and auction)
1933-36 Zeenut PCL--Technically, it's not his "Major League Rookie Card" because, well, he wasn't in the big leagues when this card was issued. Part of Zeenuts' ongoing set of Pacific Coast League players from the mid-1930s, the cards came with tabs that could be torn off and sent in for prizes. Most people did just that so most of the Zeenuts DiMaggio cards don't have the tab and get dinged with a lower grade because of it.
This card is from the dawn of DiMaggio's greatness and what's even cooler is that the printer spelled his name wrong. Even in low grade, the Zeenuts "DeMaggio" will cost $2,500 and up--emphasis on the up--but it has greatness all over it, both as an investment and just a really cool piece of baseball history you can show off to your friends and colleagues.
1941 Play Ball #71 – This card captures the quintessential swing that is DiMaggio. It shows how graceful he was in the batter’s box. It's also from the season in which he had his 56-game hitting streak and batted. .406, which makes is popular with those who like to have cards reflect watershed moments in the game's history. High grade examples can cost $10,000 and up and while 'buying the best you can afford' is great advice, those cards are rare. You'll pay around $2,000 for a PSA 5 type example.
1948 Leaf #1 – This card was in the same set as Babe Ruth. Ruth was #3. Grades above PSA 8 are extremely difficult to find, at any price. Prices range from $300-400 for a low grade example to around $7,000 for a near mint, graded copy (as of this writing). Difficult to find in high grade like all other 1948 Leafs, the DiMaggio is a late-career card that isn't fancy.
1938 Goudey #274 – This is a unique card, in that they way that DiMaggio’s head is superimposed on caricature of his body, like the other cards in the set. This, combined with it being one of his earliest cards, makes it popular. Pricing is a bit higher than the '48 Leaf.
1939 Play Ball #26 – Often considered DiMaggio's mainstream rookie card, this one presents an excellent photograph of the young future superstar. The fact that it's a black and white card turns some people off but when you consider the price on a PSA 7 is around $2,500, it's hard not to consider this card somewhat of a sleeper, even t hough serious collectors are well aware of it.
1936 World Wide Gum #51-- Issued in Canada, this is a toughie. Very scarce and showing a rather sullen-looking Joe D in his rookie season. A very solid investment play despite the dull appearance but not many are available. What few exist rarely change hands but there are a few out there.
1937 O-Pee-Chee #118-- Like the 1936 issue, this one, too, came out of Canada. It's a great-looking card from the early part of his career and very scarce. At the time of this writing, there were only three on eBay ranging from $3800 to $119,000 for an SGC 92.
If you can swing it, buying this card in high grade would indeed be a solid play, but owning a lower grade example is OK too.