Honus Wagner T206 Card Sells for $6.6M; Breaks LeBron James, Mickey Mantle Record

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 16, 2021

370565 03: Don Flanagan of Mastronet, a sports memorabilia auction company, talks with a reporter June 6, 2000 in New York City about the upcoming auction of the T206 Honus Wagner baseball card, foreground. The legendary baseball card will be auctioned on eBay beginning on July 5, 2000. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers)
Chris Hondros/Newsmakers

The iconic Honus Wagner T206 baseball card has regained its throne as the most expensive sports trading card ever sold after going for $6.6 million in an auction Sunday night.

Darren Rovell of the Action Network reported the Wagner T206 is exceedingly rare, with only three graded by SGC and four by PSA of equal or higher quality, which is why it was able to break the record despite an otherwise mundane grade of a three out of 10.

Here's the updated top five sports trading values, via Rovell:

1. Honus Wagner (T206, $6.6 million)

T-2. Mickey Mantle (1952 Topps, $5.2 million)

T-2. LeBron James (2003-04 Upper Deck Rookie Patch Autograph; $5.2 million)

4. Luka Doncic (1:1 Logoman Autograph, $4.6 million)

5. Patrick Mahomes (2017 Rookie Auto BGS 8.5; $4.3 million)

Other Wagner T206 cards also hold the No. 7 ($3.75 million), No. 9 ($3.7 million) and No. 10 ($3.1 million) spots on the all-time list.

Author Dave Jamieson, who wrote a book on trading cards as collectibles, told ESPN's Dan Hajducky and Tisha Thompson the fact the card is nearly undisputed as the most valuable baseball card has helped it remain ultra coveted over the years.

"Something Michael Gidwitz, who sold the first million-dollar Wagner, said that made an impression on me was how, in fine art, if you ask a bunch of modern art curators, 'What's the greatest work of modern art?' they all have different opinions," Jamieson said. "There's not much discussion when it comes to baseball cards: It's the T206 Wagner."

In addition, the trading card industry has gone through a resurgent boom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of sports cards and other collectible cards such as Pokemon.

One of the most intriguing questions was whether the Wagner card could survive another test of its longstanding value as more people entered the hobby, and cards featuring other players from other eras like Mantle or modern-day stars like James, Tom Brady and Mahomes started to receive more interest.

The answer for the T206 featuring the eight-time NL batting champion and 1909 World Series winner with the Pittsburgh Pirates is yes.