Albert Pujols and Aaron Judge Make History
Major League Baseball (MLB) is having one of its most exciting seasons ever as two different players have broken two historic records.
On September 24, 42-year-old Albert Pujols from the St. Louis Cardinals hit his 700th career home run in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Only three other baseball players have reached the 700 club - Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds.
On September 28, 30-year-old Aaron Judge from the New York Yankees hit his 61st home run this season, matching the record held by Roger Maris for the most number of single season runs in the American League.
The lead up to the two players breaking these records was filled with anticipation and fanfare, with fans, investors, and collectors buying more baseball cards, tickets, and merchandise. Both Pujols and Judge have more games this season, where they have the opportunity to add even more home runs to their record.
So what happens when two baseball players make history?
The Impact of Breaking Records
You may have read our recent piece on Roger Federer, where we examine how the demand and price of his trading cards and other memorabilia went up after the official announcement of his retirement. Notable events in a sport - like breaking a record, a historical game, or a legendary player retiring - tend to cement a person’s legacy and increase the demand for their collectibles.
Leading up to Pujols’ race to hit 700 home runs, his rookie cards continually increased in price. Over the last month, collectors spent about $750,000 on 2,300 Pujols rookie cards on eBay alone. More than $1 Million worth of single Pujols cards have changed hands in that time. Six rookie cards have sold for $15,000 or more. Sales of Pujols’ 2001 Topps rookie cards at a PSA 9 grading have increased 150% to $483, according to Card Ladder. A variety of his other cards have gone up in price several double digit percentage points. A spokesperson from eBay said that sales of Pujols trading cards increased 210% over the last weeks as he got closer to 700 Home runs and sales of all Pujols cards increased 115% YoY on eBay.
Currently, the record price for a Pujols card sold on ebay is $35,041 for a 2001 Topps Chrome Traded #T247 Retrofactor Rookie RC PSA 10 PMJ, which was sold in August 2022. And if you think about the fragmented information across sports cards platforms both online and offline, it’s possible that the numbers above underestimate the true value and interest in Albert Pujols cards.
At this point, Pujols has already broken baseball records and may continue to break them as he has more games to play this season. This is Albert Pujols’ last year in the MLB and since he is on the verge of retirement, it’s a solid bet that the price of his cards may increase over time.
When Aaron Judge hit home run number 60 last week, the price of game tickets started rising on the secondary market, as fans were anticipating Judge making history and reaching home run 61. The collectibles company Fanatics is planning to launch an exclusive set of collectibles and memorabilia for Aaron Judge hitting home run number 62. This includes things like balls, bats, trading cards and maybe even dirt from the stadium.
The actual 60th and 61st home run balls themselves have been estimated to sell for $250,000-$1,000,000 or more on the secondary market. Does that sound like a lot? If you really look at the historical price of baseball (and most sports) memorabilia, it generally goes up in price. For reference, Barry Bonds’s then-record 756th home run ball most recently sold for $752,467. What’s interesting is that the prices of Aaron Judge cards are merely speculative at the moment. These estimates are based on experts and industry thought leaders like Ken Goldin, who are making these guesses based on personal experience.
Many sports card collectors have noted the price of Aaron Judge’s rookie cards is increasing, particularly his autograph cards increasing. A variety of different Judge cards have gone from selling in hundreds of dollars last year to now selling for several thousands of dollars.
Since Aaron Judge has hit 61 home runs and is potentially going to hit 62 at his next game on October 1, card manufacturer Topps has already produced a special card commemorating Aaron Judge’s joint record with Roger Maris from 1961.
This is one of the things that makes sports so exciting. While there is no absolute guarantee that Aaron Judge will hit home run number 62, many people expect it and that slightest bit of uncertainty turns into excitement. And that excitement encourages fans to make quick decisions around buying and collecting sports items that make them feel closer to moments in sports history.
People will want to buy the things they love. And of the things people love most is sports. While Albert Pujols will soon retire, Aaron Judge is 30-years-old and has many more years left in his baseball career. They both have more games to play this season, where they could break even more records and generate even more interest in baseball collectibles. So whether you’re a fan or not, take a seat and watch baseball history unfold.