Last Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, Bowman baseball was released. Bowman has been a staple in baseball card collecting for several years now and is considered by all collectors to be the rookie card. The official rookie card of baseball’s top prospects, no collection is complete without the actual rookie card. Other sets have rookie cards, but none create such a buzz or demand like Bowman does. If you remember my previous article, I highlighted the price for base autographed cards of some of the hottest players this decade like Mookie Betts, Carlos Correa, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper. These were ranging from roughly $200 to a little over $10,000. But there is one card in this year’s Bowman that would put those numbers to shame. As of the writing of this article, 4/30/2018, it has not been found. It is floating around. There is already a $75,000 bounty on it. I am talking about the Shohei Ohtani autograph superfractor. Bowman cards are fetching high prices with standard hobby boxes going for about $180 each and super jumbo (more cards & hits than the regular hobby) hobby boxes going for $360+. Last year’s Bowman was going for about $160 and $250+ respectively.
A super what and whose Ohtani?
A superfractor is often considered the modern day once in a lifetime hit a collector can have. They are the rarest cards in the set. They are numbered 1/1, as in the only one in the world ever made. They look just like a base card except they are numbered 1/1, and the entire face of the card has a gold foil on it, often in a circular pattern. If you PC (personally collect/personal collection) a player, their superfractor is considered the holy grail your PC needs. In 13 years of collecting I have never pulled a superfractor in a pack or box. Although I have pulled three printing plates, which are also numbered 1/1. However, they are much easier to find as they’re four printing plates per card, one for each color (black, yellow, magenta, and cyan). I own an unautographed superfractor of a prospect named Kohl Stewart. But it is a mini card, and I for fun completed the rainbow of his 2015 Bowman Farm’s Finest set. A rainbow is when a collector has every single possible refactor of the same player. For mine, it goes unnumbered base, chrome shimmer unnumbered, purple /250, blue /150, green /99, gold /50, orange /25, red /5 and the superfractor 1/1.
Shohei Ohtani is a baseball phenom from Japan enjoying a rookie season. Ohtani has been described as the most prominent player to play the game since Babe Ruth. Ohtani is a real two-way player as he can bat just as well as he can pitch. He was used as a starting pitcher and an outfielder in between starts. Ohtani also swung a hot bat, an anomaly in baseball. The AL uses the designated hitter position to bat for the pitcher, who are often the worst batters on the team (i.e., the G.O.A.T. known as Bartolo Colon). Ohtani made his pro debut in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) at 18 years old. He threw the fastest pitch in league history there, at 102.5 mph. In 2014 Ohtani became the first player in NPB history to hit double-digit home runs and record double-digit wins as a pitcher in the same season. After four seasons, Ohtani left the NPB to the join the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB where he went 42-15 with a 2.52 ERA and 624 career strikeouts as a pitcher while batting .286 with 48 home runs and 166 RBIs. Yogi Berra, Ryne Sandberg, Carl Yastrzemski, and Robin Yount are all in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and all had lower career batting averages than Ohtani did in the NPB. So to recap the kid is exceptional at playing baseball.
What should I do if I find Ohtani’s superfractor?
In all my years of collecting, I have never seen a prospect like Ohtani command such high prices for his cards right out of the gate. Mike Trout autos were trading for only a few hundred dollars when they first came out, and he was in the minors. An unnumbered based auto of Ohtani is going for almost $1,700 a piece and the red refractor /5 sold for $55,400 on eBay last week. (However, the five highest bidders all backed out after they were asked to pay). Ohtani’s atomic refractor /100 is going for $18,000 or so. These are all Bowman autographed cards that are raw (ungraded). Ohtani does have cards signed on other products like Topps Heritage or Panini Diamond Kings. Popular card website, Blowout Cards placed a $60,000 bounty to whoever pulls the autographed Superfractor. They quickly upped their offer to $75,000. Beckett Grading Services (BGS) is offering free grading with expedited shipping to whoever pulls the superfractor. When I buy cards, I usually limit myself to one blaster box if I’m buying retail. On my last trip to Target, I bought three and two rack packs respectively. I didn’t hit one autographed card. However, one of my Twitter followers pulled a green Ohtani auto /99 in a $6 pack he found at Wal-Mart.
Do I think Blowout Card’s offer is reasonable? No. I believe it is undervalued. There are a few conditions that must be met to collect the $75,000. 1. You must find the card by 5/11/2018. 2. You must get the card graded by BGS, and it must grade 9.5 or better. However, they have expressed interest in the card even if it doesn’t grade a 9.5 (it is unclear what they would offer if it doesn’t grade 9.5). Grading cards can cause the value to double, triple, quadruple, even higher. Watching the craze that all his autographed cards are fetching now that are ungraded I feel that the Ohtani superfractor could go for more than $75,000. If it graded 9.5 by BGS, it could potentially hit six figures maybe even $200K+. Of course in Blowout’s defense, they need to make a profit, and I’m sure they have a private buyer lined up. It is the most substantial amount I have ever heard being offered for a modern-day autographed card.
If you pull the card here’s what I recommend you do:
- DO NOT BRAG ABOUT IT. I know it is tempting. I completely understand. Believe me, I get excited about cards worth $20 when I pull them. But when we are talking more than most people’s annual salaries you do not want that kind of attention. Treat this card as a winning lottery ticket for a $100,000. You do not wish to post about that to Facebook and suddenly hear from 500 of your “closest friends” and that cousin of yours you haven’t spoken to in 5 years. Plus you are inviting people to harass you about what you are going to do with the card, and although this one is so unique and are it is easy to attract, you would draw potential thieves.
- Speak with some financial professionals. If you have an investment banker, I would let them know you have the card and are not sure what to do with it. I would also contact an attorney who specializes in trusts & estates to find out if there any steps you could take to protect yourself and your family. Also, find out what legal resources are available to you should a potential buyer back out or not come through. While speaking about that, I would also find out what types of legal recourses could be made against you should any disputes about the value or condition of the card be made. You may want to contact your homeowner’s/renter’s insurance company as well and find out if you get the card scheduled (a separate policy for high-value items).
- Put the card in an extremely safe place. Keep the card in a penny sleeve and top loader at all times. Maybe even consider a magnetic One Touch case. Avoid a screw down case, as the motion of screwing the case back together may create pressure and crack the case or scratch the card. Consider a safety deposit box at your bank. Check on it at least weekly to make sure it is there. Use white gloves when handling the card. Do not take the card out of the case unless it is necessary. The only time I would consider it essential to remove the card from its case is if you were switching it from a top loader into a magnetic case.
- Consider Beckett’s offer to grade the card. Getting the card graded is a smart move. It puts the card in a much safer case than a top loader or One Touch. It also eliminates any question of condition or authenticity between the buyer and seller. Beckett is one of the most reputable graders in the hobby, and their name attached to this card would increase the value significantly. I would double check with Beckett to make sure that by having them grade the card you do not agree to sell it to Blowout Cards. Blowout’s offer is a lot of money though, but I believe you could get more on your own, especially with it graded. If possible, I would also give some serious consideration to traveling to Beckett in person with the card. Beckett is located just outside of Dallas, TX. This is one card you may not want to ship to them. That is a lot of strangers who will be in contact with your card and then remember Beckett has to mail it back to you. The post office is notorious for losing packages or the contents inside. UPS and FedEx are known for handling packages without care. Plus not to mention the package could be stolen by porch thieves.
- DO NOT LIST THE CARD ON EBAY. eBay and PayPal are going to take a considerable amount of seller’s fee and possibly hold your money for six months +. Plus eBay is very buyer friendly, and the buyer could claim they never received the card from you, open a case against you, and if eBay agrees with them force you to refund part or all the money to the buyer (that’s an article for another time). Contact some highly reputable auction houses like Sotheby’s or Christie’s. You can also ask your financial advisor or lawyer who they would recommend or how you should go about selling it. I would not use eBay in this case. The potential for something to go wrong is too high. Of course, Blowout Card’s offer isn’t unreasonable and might be the safest and most straightforward way to move the card. Don’t ask what they sold it for.
So next time you are in Target or Wal-Mart, you may want to look at the card section a little closer. You might be looking at the pack that contains a life-changing baseball card in it. Good luck!