'Blind Side' heats up Oher's cards
It's not often that the Academy Awards can influence the world of sports cards -- after all, Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh and Pedro Cerrano don't have baseball cards -- but the Oscar presence of "The Blind Side" starring Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw just might.
The film, which is a Best Picture nominee, examines the life of former Ole Miss offensive lineman Michael Oher and his journey to becoming an NFL rookie with the Baltimore Ravens -- and it already has sparked interest in his football cards.
In the weeks following the movie's theatrical release last November, collectors typically paid double the going rate for Oher's various autographed and memorabilia cards (cards with a small slice of his clothing embedded into them). These days, his cards -- he has more than 150 different ones -- typically sell for between $2 and $150. The most expensive is an autographed Playoff Contenders card limited to just 99 copies.
That's saying something for an offensive lineman, as Hall of Famer John Hannah's 1973 Topps rookie card is worth just $15 and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz's 1982 Topps RC is just $8.
"The movie has everything to do with the spike in interest," said Dan Hitt, Beckett Media's senior market analyst who tracks values for football cards. "But the story is so compelling that these inflated prices are likely to hold for months and possibly longer."
While autographed cards typically get the most attention in the hobby, there are two memorabilia cards made by Panini America that might stand out to fans for a different reason -- they contain a piece of Oher's first memorabilia as a member of the Ravens.
The cap that Oher wore on the podium after his name was called on draft day was cut up to make a pair of cards for Panini's 2009 Limited football set -- a Draft Day Lids card limited to just 50 copies and a Draft Day Lids Combos card, on which Oher is paired with St. Louis Rams pick Jason Smith. Only 10 copies of that one were made. The easier-to-find card typically sells for $25.
What makes these two Oher cards different than the countless other (plentiful) memorabilia cards out there for other players? The photos on the cards show Oher wearing the exact item that was cut up and put into the card. And what else makes this card different from the other rookies' Draft Day cards (besides a movie that grossed nearly $250 million at the box office)?
"We only have his hat from the draft," said Scott Prusha, Panini America's marketing manager. "He decided to keep his jersey."
That immediately makes Oher's Draft Day cards much tougher to find than the other rookies' cards. For example, San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree appears on nine different Draft Day cards with a total print run of 360 copies featuring pieces of his cap and jersey held on the draft-day podium.
Movie or not, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize which one will be tougher to find -- or potentially more costly to add to a collection.
More mainstream interest in Oher's football cards -- non-collectors picking them up after seeing the film -- isn't likely to cool down just yet, either, regardless of the Oscar outcome on Sunday night.
Why? The DVD is set to arrive on March 23.
Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. What are your sports cards worth? Check out Beckett.com -- and be sure to get the latest news on sports cards and memorabilia at The Beckett Blog.