Sports Card Collecting Police: The People vs. Third Base Cards

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If you’ve followed my articles, you know I never attack anyone specifically or intentionally criticize them for the sake of being mean, and all my criticism is backed up by research and evidence to support my opinion. Panini America, Upper Deck, and Topps have been subject to such criticism between intentionally making fake patches, a painful redemption system, or lackluster customer service to name a few. But for the first time a Twitter user has irked my thoughts to the point where I feel it is necessary to write an article warning other collectors about them and why they pose such a danger to the collecting community. Think of this as a consumer report for anyone in the card or memorabilia collecting industry.

Card Cop, Policing Collectors: The People vs. Third Base Cards

Recently, I crossed paths with a card collecting account through Twitter under the handle @thirdbasecards. They seemed rather reputable on the surface as they have their own store logo as their profile picture and a link to their own website thirdbasecards.com on their Twitter bio. I checked the link to see what would come up and it redirected me to a website with some sports balls on it, links to other websites that sell cards, advertisements, and the message “Interested in this domain?” At first glance, most people would reasonably believe this is a Twitter account of a sports card shop somewhere in the U.S., however, looks can be deceiving and they are wolf in sheep’s clothing as far as dealers go.

Third Base Cards have two cards they keep pushing on Twitter. One is a 2011 Topps Update Gold Canary Diamond of Eric Hosmer numbered 1/1 graded 9/10 by Beckett.  They are asking $2500 for the card. $2500 is a lot for any card. However, this Eric Hosmer is not a rookie, autographed, nor contains any piece of game used jersey, bat, or any other piece of equipment. It is simply stamped 1/1 and graded. Third Base Cards keeps insisting that The Royals back-to-back World Series appearances and most recent victory should add value.

The other is a 2011 Topps Gold Canary Diamond of Babe Ruth also numbered 1/1 and graded 9.5/10 by Beckett. Like Hosmer, the Ruth is not autographed, does not contain any game used materials, nor is it a rookie. Third Base Cards is asking $125,000 for their Babe Ruth card.

Third Base Cards is serious and firm about their prices. Despite many collectors asking how they came up with those prices, Third Base Cards promotes and maintains that their Babe Ruth card is one of the most valuable cards on the market and is comparable to two of the biggest holy grails in the hobby: The 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle and the 1909-1911 Honus Wagner T206.

Now what can $127,500 buy you? For starters it could pay off my student loans after four years at an out-of-state university over 3 1/2 times. It’s over 50% of the MSRP of a 2016 Ferrari 488GTB. From a collecting stand point, it could buy you another Babe Ruth card that is also numbered 1/1. That Babe Ruth card also contains a piece of game worn jersey, game used bat, and a cut signature of the Great Bambino.   If you paid the full asking price online, you would still be left with over $100,000 to do whatever you’d like with. With a little searching on eBay you could find an autographed baseball of Babe Ruth with a JSA/ PSA/DNA COA ranging from $4,000 – $15,000 depending mostly on the condition of the ball or if other players signed it.

Some collectors might believe Third Base Cards is a joke and they are not serious about their prices. However, I personally don’t buy that. For one, if Third Base Cards was a parody account they would not keep getting so angry over getting called out. Third Base Cards has basically taken the attitude of “haters gonna hate” and has gone to block some users who consistently call them out. I also haven’t seen them favorite or retweet any tweets that say this has to be a joke.

The second, and more important reason I don’t buy it, is I know they are reasonable and capable of pricing cards a lot closer to actual value. If you scroll through their feed you will find other cards they sell including one of a Topps Heritage Kris Bryant rookie refractor /566 and an Adrian Gonzalez refractor /25. They are asking $40 and $15 respectably for those cards. While I believe the Gonzalez is a little high, those prices are not too far off. I also tweeted a picture of my autographed Jeter and Garciaparra dual autographed /75 card at them asking how much they would ask if they had it. They replied “$300-$400”, which left me stunned since that’s exactly what I’d ask for it.

Third Base Cards often markets these cards with tweets that state that their phones can’t stop ringing off the hook about the cards and that buyers should act fast. I would like to note Third Base Cards has never provided a phone number to reach them.  They also say that their Babe Ruth card is one of the greatest ever made in history and they predict it will double in value to $250,000 in the next decade. However, some astute collectors on Twitter actually were able to track down the card on past eBay sales. Third Base Cards paid $400 for it, and that also came with another Topps Gold Canary 1/1. Somehow in the process of shipping the Babe Ruth card jumped in value from $400 to $125,000.

I have also yet to see Third Base Cards respond to other collectors who have pointed out that the true value might be around $400 and the most valuable card from the 2011 Topps Gold Canary 1/1 was a Mike Trout rookie which sold for about $3,000. Also while the 1/1 means it is the only one in the world, I would like to point out that according to Beckett, there were 29,793 1/1 cards made for baseball alone in 2009 and In 2010, an editor for Beckett did some digging and discovered the following: Beckett had close to 340,000 1/1 cards listed in the Beckett database — just for baseball. The 2011 Topps Update set has a base set of 330 cards meaning there are 330 different 2011 Topps Canary Gold Diamond 1/1 cards floating around.

Why is Third Base Cards so dangerous? It is their rigidity of their prices, which also seem arbitrarily set. While most experienced collectors know they are completely out of line and would not get anywhere close to their asking prices—they would be lucky to get $400 for the Ruth and over $100 for Hosmer—it is disheartening to know that Third Base Cards is out there corrupting and polluting the ideas and expectations of someone new to the hobby. I would hate for anyone who was interested in starting to collect be swindled by these guys. Third Base Cards could easily take them for a loop, especially if the buyer is new to collecting, has no real experience, and is deceived by Third Base Cards’ appearance as an actual card store. They are also creating unrealistic expectations for new collectors by over valuing 1/1’s.   A new collector may overpay for another 1/1, thinking it is a steal because it was nowhere close to the thousands of dollars Third Base Cards maintains there 1/1 cards are worth. They also intentionally misrepresent their cards. Going back to the Hosmer, they maintain it is his rookie card despite the fact Beckett did not denote it as a rookie card nor do the words rookie card or RC appear anywhere on it.  I will give credit where it is due and the card does say “Rookie debut” followed by the date of Hosmer’s first MLB appearance, but it is still not considered a rookie card.

One of my followers posted a screenshot of a conversation they had with Third Base Cards. They stated Third Base Cards was rather pushy, attempting to sell them cards that they (Third Base Cards) did not even have possession of yet. Third Base Cards stated those cards were recently purchased and in the mail and tried assuring the potential buyer that they would be arriving soon. The follower told Third Base Cards he didn’t feel comfortable with the transaction and has heard nothing but bad things about the shop. Third Base Cards said they couldn’t control what others said about them but that the potential buyer shouldn’t listen to them.

What it comes down is this: The only thing more dangerous than a person with a gun and knows how to use it, is a person with a gun that doesn’t know how to use it. Third Base Cards has gone above and beyond attempting to give themselves a reputable and knowledgeable online identity in the card collecting community. In reality they should be avoided like the plague and are insult to those who enjoy collecting and a threat to anyone new looking to start a collection.

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