December 2013 Premium Holiday Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/4/2014

Very few baseball cards produced within the last three decades are as recognizable as the 1985 Topps Team USA Mark McGwire rookie card. At the height of McGwire mania, this iconic throwback fetched upwards of five figures in the offered grade of BGS 10 Pristine. Prices have come down over the years, but not necessarily because of his admitted steroid use. The PED scandal unquestionably damaged McGwire's reputation, his legacy, and the tremendous value of his collectibles, but not to the same degree as it did other Major League juicers from the so-called steroid era -- Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in particular. Unlike Bonds and Clemens, McGwire handled himself with integrity, refusing to testify, refusing to lie, refusing to rat out his friends, his teammates, and his coaches, so many of whom knew what was going on. And then he fessed up.

The result over the last half decade is that both the baseball community and the sports collectibles hobby still have big love for Big Mac. When he returned to the St. Louis Cardinals as Tony LaRussa's hitting coach in 2010, he received a standing ovation at his first public appearance after admitting his drug use. More importantly, in his three seasons in St. Louis, the Cards offense was prolific, leading the league in hitting and on-base percentage and ranking second in runs scored. In 2013, he then became the hitting coach for Don Mattingly's Dodgers, in order to be closer to his family -- Mac is a family man -- and we'll see him back in LA in 2014. Mac is also the MLB career record holder in at bats per home run, with a 10.61 average that rates over a full at-bat ahead of runner-up, Babe Ruth. Most recently, in November, he inked a deal with Topps to sign cards for their 2014 products. It will be McGwire's first time signing with the legendary card manufacturer and his first time signing cards for any company since 2003.

Back in the dugout in one of the biggest markets in baseball, and back in packs of Topps baseball cards, Mark McGwire's legacy is certainly on the mend, and so, too, is the value of his cards. With over 13,000 potential Gem Mint to Pristine copies passing through the grading room at Beckett Grading Services over the last 20 years, here is one of the single most submitted cards in the history of the Dallas-based grading firm. After all these submissions, however, there are now a dozen other Pristine 10s on record in addition to the offered masterpiece, which is another reason this BGS 10 no longer fetches $10,000. Despite this marginally increased population, however, there may be no better deal in the high-end market for iconic, key rookie cards in the pinnacle Pristine 10 grade from BGS, but with his reemergence in both the sport and in the hobby, the deal won't last long. A dream card for so many collectors for so many years, back in the spotlight but still very attainable.

PS: Here's a bonus Mark McGwire top pick for anyone still reading. Thanks for that. It is a video that I think sums up the conflict of the steroids era in a way no argument with words could possibly do. You have Big Mac meeting a 104 MPH fastball from Big Unit, connecting for one of the longest home runs ever hit. You see the awe on the faces of his teammates in the dugout, and you see what complicity looks like, if not in deed, at least in knowledge. The reaction was the same from the rest of us -- shock and awe, wonder and amazement -- and a cameo from Jose Canseco at the end of the clip confirms its comic book-like surrealism. As much as I personally enjoy watching clips like this, and clips like Barry Bonds' monstrous shot at Yankee Stadium, I can't help but wonder how much better guys like Randy Johnson would have been had they always played against honest men.    

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1
Final prices include buyers premium: $1,056
Number Bids: 19
Auction closed on Sunday, January 5, 2014.
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