THIS IS US

How Does It Feel To Lose Half a Million Dollars?

Forced to sell my baseball cards when I was broke, I missed out on a lot of money — but learned some valuable lessons

Tim Wise
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readSep 1, 2022

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A Jackie Robinson 1955 Topps baseball card
Just one of many cards from the 1910s–1980s that I owned at one time. Image: 1955 Topps Jackie Robinson, Baseball Collection, flickr/CC BY 2.0

To answer the question posed in the title: it sucks. No shock there, I suppose.

And no, I’m not exaggerating.

If I still had the baseball card collection I possessed 30 years ago, I would be able to auction it for around half a million dollars today.

I thought about this again when I saw a story in the New York Times recently about the $12.6 million fetched at auction for a 1952 rookie card of Mickey Mantle — the most ever for a piece of sports memorabilia.

No, I never had the ’52 Mantle.

If I had, but now didn’t, the title of this piece would be far more shocking, not to mention depressing.

But I did have a Roberto Clemente rookie card from 1955 in good enough condition to be worth nearly $40,000 today.

I had two absolutely pristine Sandy Koufax cards from 1956 and ’57, which would easily fetch $75,000 now for the pair. Plus another gem mint specimen from 1965, worth about $15,000 more.

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Tim Wise
Human Parts

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)