eBay’s Baseball Card Hall of Fame includes Pre-War Legends — and Surprises

eBay recently announced the introduction of its own Baseball Card Hall of Fame

The Baseball Hall of Fame made some news this year with the addition of a baseball card wing. And recently, eBay decided to create their own Baseball Card Hall of Fame.

A good chunk of eBay’s business comes from sports cards and memorabilia, so they are pretty well invested into that market. Recently, they came up with ten players whose cards have sold well there. Specifically, here’s a little more with regards to how players were selected, based on eBay’s press release:

The list includes 10 legends whose trading cards have held the highest value and had the greatest influence on baseball’s cards and collectibles world. Inductees were selected based on more than a decade’s worth of proprietary sales and search data, and represent every era of the last century of baseball, from Babe Ruth to Pete Rose, and beyond.

If that sounds kind of vague, my guess is that it is intentionally so. But without further ado, the ten players in eBay’s inaugural class included (in alphabetical order) Ken Griffey, Jr., Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken, Jr., Mariano Rivera, Pete Rose, Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith, and Ted Williams.

Ted Williams 1939 Play BallBabe Ruth 1914 Baltimore NewsNow, there are a couple of things to point out. First, in terms of pre-war guys, we’ve got Ruth and, just barely, Williams. Musial is technically a wartime player as his career started during the war, but he could kind of be lumped in as well.

The other notable thing is that there are some surprises. Some, like Griffey and Mantle, you’d fully expect to be here. Ditto for Ryan, Rose, and Ripken. But Ozzie Smith and Mariano Rivera are probably the most surprising with Musial not far behind.

The Rivera thing can be explained with a tie-in promotion as he is serving as a de facto spokesperson here as eBay is selling a bunch of his items with money going to his charity. That’s good news, obviously, and I’ve got nothing against charitable donations. But if you’re trying to tell me that his stuff has been more sought after or popular than stuff from, say, Derek Jeter, well I ain’t buying that.

Out of curiosity, I checked card listings for both Rivera and Jeter on eBay. Jeter has four times as many items as Rivera does and I’m sure his stuff is selling for more, too. But, again, it’s in the name of charity and a somewhat trivial concept, so who can complain too loudly?

But I’d really be curious to hear how guys like Smith and, I guess to a lesser degree, Musial made the cut. While I don’t have any reason to doubt why eBay would undeservedly include them, I could probably name dozens of other guys that I would have suspected to have more (and larger) sales of cards than Ozzie. That one’s an all-time head scratcher. My only conclusion is that this wasn’t based purely on sales and search results, though maybe I’ve got that wrong.

So, where’s Ty Cobb? Or Honus Wagner? Or Cy Young? Well, these sorts of things are always going to be skewed against pre-war guys.

For one thing, they don’t have as many cards, autographs, or memorabilia as there is for current or more recent players. And for another, collectors of their bigger items are typically going to turn to more traditional auction houses as opposed to selling those things online. In other words, don’t expect someone like Honus Wagner to show up here over the likes of Jeter, Mike Trout, etc., even though Wagner is pictured on the most expensive card of all time. Still, it’s nice to see Ruth and Williams make the cut just so the era is represented.

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