The Major League Baseball (MLB) team known as the Detroit Tigers first established itself as a team in 1901. Since then, it has won four World Series Championships, eleven American League Pennants, and four American League Central Division Championships. Before becoming an MLB team, the Tigers originally played at Bennett Park before moving to Navin Field in 1912. When the team expanded in 1938, the facility was renamed Briggs Stadium. It then became Tiger Stadium in 1961. The year 2000 has since seen the team has moved to Comerica Park, which is also located in downtown Detroit and has been there ever since. In addition to the Detroit Tiger's evolvement as a baseball team, so has the hobby of collecting baseball cards among the fans who were just as enthusiastic about these keepsakes as the players themselves.
The popularity of baseball cards reached all-time highs during the 1980s when the desire among enthusiasts was now resorting to auctions and specialty stores as a means to take home a coveted card that would be missing from the collection. With baseball greats of old that have become iconic in the eyes of the sport's fans, paying top dollar for their rookie cards was becoming a thing for a while until the excitement seemed to fade. However, with the popularity of baseball cards making a peak again, some of the highest-priced cards in history have made newspaper headlines as recently as 2022. As far as the Detroit Tigers are concerned, who have some greats of their own, the price for some of its rookie baseball cards has seen itself compete against the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Honus Wagner, and more. Who among the Detroit Tigers comes to mind as a baseball legend in the same league as such greats? If Ty Cobbs comes to mind, then you're in the right ballpark, no pun intended.
5. 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb - Ty Cobb (Portrait-Red) PSA Good+ 2.5 - from The "Lucky 7" ($372,000)
From an auction that was held on August 22, 2021, this Ty Cobb baseball card was among the seven found from an old paper bag in 2016. At Heritage Auctions, the successful bid of $372,000 USD beat out the competition in order to bring this card home.
4. 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Portrait Red Background with Ty Cobb Back (Lucky 7 Find) PSA VG+ 3.5 ($408,000 USD)
aT $408,000 USD, this Ty Cobb baseball card was sold at Heritage Auctions to the highest bidder on February 24, 2018. As one of the "Lucky 7" finds from 2016, this highly coveted card is now currently up for bid where the owner is asking at least $618,000 USD for it.
3. PSA 9 1909 T206 "bat off the shoulder" Cobb ($488,425)
As portrayed on the Library of Congress site, this PSA-9 graded card featuring a portrait of Ty Cobbs holding a baseball bat over his shoulder sold at $488,425 USD in August 2016.
2. T206 Ty Cobb Back PSA 4.5 ($894,250)
As one of the Lucky Seven Ty Cobb baseball cards that were mysteriously found in 2016 from an old paper bag, this highly coveted collector's item saw a successful bid of $894,250 USD ($876,000 USD, plus fees) at the Mile High Card Company Auction on September 4, 2020. There were twenty bidders who competed over the prized card, which saw the minimum bid begin at $200,000 USD.
1. 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb Tobacco (Ty Cobb Back) ($1,100,000)
The T206 set of baseball cards is special for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is the numerous brand advertisements that were on the backs, which made sixteen differences in total. It is estimated the number of fronts and back combinations is at 5,500, which has led to this set earning The Monster nickname. With maybe only twenty-two of these types of baseball cards of Ty Cobb and the special backs in existence, it has become one of the most coveted items enthusiasts are willing to pay big money for. When news got out in 2016 of seven copies of this Ty Cobb baseball card found in an old paper bag, this was huge among the baseball card enthusiasts, which initially sparked the popularity of baseball card collecting to spike again.
Why Ty Cobb?
When it comes to baseball legends, Ty Cobb did more than just make a name for himself on the field. He was just as successful as a businessman, thanks to owning shares with the Coca-Cola company. While on the field, he earned twelve American League batting titles that have so far been unbreakable. He was nicknamed "Georgia Peach" due to his business investment into the tobacco trade in the state of Georgia. Although the lifecycle of that company was short-lived, it has since become a highly coveted historical piece as the T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait card features a Ty Cobb tobacco advertisement on its back. There had been a debate whether something like this should have been allowed to participate in the T206 series, but it did anyway. The scarcity of these cards was rare enough at the time of printing but is even more so now that more than a century has passed since then. What sets these cards apart is there is the glossy finish to the portrait, unlike the rest of the T206 series of the 1909-1911 era. It is believed the Ty Cobb baseball cards were glossed over as a means to protect them from staining while inserted inside the Ty Cobb tobacco tins that were sold at the time. It was believed there were only ten of these baseball cards in existence until it was discovered by a family in Georgia. They were going through their great-grandfather's possessions and discovered the paper bag that featured seven Ty Cobb business cards inside. This is where the "Lucky Seven" name comes from and why they're so highly valued among card collectors and baseball fans.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson