April 19, 2014

Sandy Koufax Baseball Cards: A Short but Solid List

When looking on at Sandy Koufax’s career, one might compare it to a comet.  Sandy’s career burned brightly and like no other pitcher’s career, who came before.  By the age of 30, Sandy had racked up 3 Cy Young awards, 4 World Series championship rings, 7 all star appearances, 3 Triple Crowns, and MVP award and many more accolades.

However, just like a comet streaking across the sky, in an instant, it was over.  Koufax’s career ended abruptly in 1966, the victim of arthritis in his arm from pitching over use.  Even though his career was short, relative to other Hall of Famers, his mark is deep and enduring. Sandy Koufax baseball cards are among the most popular of their era for a wide variety of reasons.

Collectability

Playing in the 1950s and 1960s Koufax was viewed with reverence.  Children emulated him. In the Jewish community, he was loved like no other player since Hank Greenberg.  As a key part of the Dodger’s National League machine, Sandy received large local and national media attention regularly.  Although he has a strong collecting following  throughout California and in New York, demand from collectors is strong nationwide.

His amazing seasons have him appearing in numerous subsets on cards issued in the ’60s including ERA Leaders and Strikeout Leaders, enhancing the value of those cards, but not necessarily making them attractive targets for investing.

Investment Quality

Sandy Koufax baseball cards have shown consistent demand over time.  Whenever a current pitcher begins climbing the all-time strikeout leaders list, retired pitchers like Koufax garner additional media attention and industry demand. Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux and others have all generated additional attention for Koufax, because of their own efforts.

Alas, post-war pitchers do not seem to get the same valuations as their slugger counterparts.   Koufax’s cards are not stranger to this phenomenon.  While his high-graded cards have seen consistent appreciation, the majority of his cards lag in performance of sluggers like Mantle, Mays, and Aaron.  This does not mean that Sandy’s cards are not worth investing in, as part of a portfolio.  The opposite, is in fact true.  Although, in absolute dollars his cards are priced at a fraction of home run hitters, the percentage appreciation his cards have experienced are impressive.

Look for cards that are scarce in high grade from particular sets like 1962 Topps and 1957 Topps as well as his rookie card.  A ’62 Topps Koufax graded PSA 9 sold for over $66,000 a few years back but it’s not likely you’ve got one that nice in your closet.  Looking hard at the PSA 8 wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Top Card Issues to Watch

1955 Topps, #123 – This is Sandy Koufax’s rookie card.  It shows Koufax taking a knee, during a game.  The card is greatly undervalued, even in ultra-high grade condition.  Recently a PSA 7 card sold for about $1,000.

1956 Topps, #79 – This card features an excellent portrait of the player, as well as an action shot.  Again, high-graded cards are very accessible to new investors. A PSA 8 card sold for less than $500 not long ago.

1957 Topps, #302 – This is another excellent card.  In fact, most cards from the 1957 are in high demand, because of the tremendous photography.  A PSA 8 card recently sold for a little more than $1,000.  A rare PSA 9 copy sold in 2006 for $78,000 but that’s a bit of an aberration.

1959 Topps, #163 – To get an idea of how much grade impacts price, look no further than this card.  A PSA 9 card, with no qualifiers, recently sold for $2,800. That same card, graded as a PSA 9 (OC), with qualifiers, sold for less than $300, in the same week.

1966 Topps, #10 – This card is important in that it was Koufax’s last card.  High grade examples seem to be harder to find. Recently, a PSA 8 card sold for $325, with a PSA 7 selling for less than $90.

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