In the mid-1990s, when it was still known as AuctionWeb, eBay served as a virtual swap meet for enterprising individuals looking to buy and sell a wide variety of items. The site eventually grew into something much bigger than its founders envisioned, facilitating transactions on a grand scale and currently serving 180 million active buyers worldwide.
eBay also became a go-to source for collectibles, with more than $500 million worth of Beanie Babies sold in 1997. While that stuffed animal craze would prove to be relatively short-lived, another early mover and shaker on the online marketplace were those cardboard keepsakes synonymous with our national pastime. Baseball cards were a natural fit, and as of today account for over six million listings.
The inaugural class of the eBay Baseball Card Hall of Fame was unveiled Thursday, comprised of ten all-time greats whose cards rank among those that have consistently maintained the highest value over the years and held significant influence in the collectible industry. Each member of eBay’s 2019 class also happens to be enshrined in the actual Hall of Fame in Cooperstown with the exception of the game’s hit king Pete Rose, banned for betting on baseball but still a big-ticket item in the memorabilia world. Three of Rose’s 1963 Rookie Cards once sold for $150,000, $86,100 and $82,601 over a two-month span on eBay.
Highlighting the group is former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the first player ever elected unanimously by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America earlier this year. As part of the promotion honoring Rivera and his uniform number, 42 items including a personalized video will be auctioned with all of the proceeds going to the legendary reliever’s charitable foundation.
“I love that eBay started the Baseball Card Hall of Fame. As a player, you have fans who come out to the games and they’re incredible, then you have collectors who bring the game home with their distinct passion,” Rivera said. “The exclusive merchandise we’ve put together with eBay is for real fans, whether they’re Yankee die-hards or just genuine collectors. Most importantly, this collection creates incredible resources for underprivileged youth and their families.”
Rounding out the wax pack platoon are Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith, Mickey Mantle, Ken Griffey Jr., Nolan Ryan, Ted Williams, and Stan Musial.
A 1916 M101-4 Ruth once went for $80,900, the most expensive rookie card ever sold on eBay. Another Bronx Bomber holds the record for the most expensive card to ever change hands on the site, though, with a 1952 Topps Mantle moving for $486,100 in November of 2015.
Also featured in the virtual museum are five “Hall of Fame Hopefuls,” a group that includes Rivera’s ex-teammate Derek Jeter, a soon-to-be first-ballot Cooperstown inductee himself, along with some of the game’s most notable active players in Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols.
Each member of the class was assigned a nickname, with Jeter dubbed “The Postseason Prince” and 19-time All-Star Williams “The King Without A Ring”.
“Baseball card collecting is viewed by many as America’s second-favorite pastime, and every fan remembers the thrill of finding the most sought-after cards of their day. We created the Baseball Card Hall of Fame to recognize those who have shaped the collecting experience across their respective generations,” said Sam Bright, eBay North America’s VP of merchandising. “These players’ cards have become an iconic part of baseball culture, prized by collectors around the world for their history and value.”