Hobby Musings: Lacrosse Cards, An In-depth Look with Todd Tobias – In the trading card world, where most of the attention is paid to sports like basketball and football, it can be easy to overlook the collectability and value of others. However, with the hobby’s boom over the past two years, many other sports have risen in popularity and value. One of those sports is lacrosse. To find out more about the world of lacrosse trading cards, I caught up with PSA’s Todd Tobias, who regularly contributes to the blog and SMR. He also built and manages Lax Card Archive.
KS: Todd, for those who may not know, what is the history of lacrosse trading cards?
TT: The first lacrosse card was issued in 1878. It was part of a 12-card multi-sport set that was issued as a promotional item by the Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Company in England. Lacrosse cards have been issued sporadically since then. Early tobacco sets might contain a single card or two depicting lacrosse, and most were simply representative of the sport rather than featuring a specific athlete. As lacrosse is a sport whose origin is traced back to Native Americans, a card showing the game in one form or another is sometimes found in sets such as 1933 Indian Gum and 1949 Bowman Wild West. As for dedicated lacrosse sets, there have not been many. Canada’s Imperial Tobacco Company issued lacrosse sets in 1910, 1911, and 1912. These were tobacco issues typical of the time.
Though much smaller in terms of number of cards, the 1910 and 1911 sets look like the lacrosse equivalent of the T206 baseball set. The 1912 set actually features black and white photographic images of the players. After that, it wasn’t until the 1992-93 season that another full lacrosse set was produced. That is the STX/Nastasi set that is known among collectors for containing the Gary & Paul Gait rookie cards. In fact, I consider that set to be lacrosse’s equivalent of the 1986 Fleer basketball set, as it had been so long since a major lacrosse set had been produced that it contains many rookie cards of top players and Hall of Famers. Upper Deck made a few lacrosse sets in 2010 and 2011 and added a healthy dose of lacrosse cards to some multi-sport sets in 2011 and 2012. Topps included a single lacrosse player (with many parallels) in each of their 2013 and 2017 Allen & Ginter sets. Since the early 1990s, individual teams and leagues have produced sets, though I cannot think of many that top 40 cards, and most were much smaller. Jim Coughlin and I built the Lax Card Archive in an effort to document the lacrosse cards that have been produced over the years and give collectors a place to meet and exchange information.
KS: Who currently manufactures lacrosse cards?
TT: In 2019, a boutique company called Parkside Collectibles produced a beautiful Major League Lacrosse (MLL) set that included autos, relics, and a host of other inserts. Because of the Covid-shortened season in 2020, they followed that up with a much smaller issue the following year. The MLL essentially folded after the 2020 season and many players were absorbed into the newer Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). Topps issued a PLL set as an On Demand product in 2021. Topps also issued an Athletes Unlimited lacrosse set this year that is the first dedicated set of professional women’s lacrosse cards ever produced. Most recently, Topps issued a series of 2021 PLL Rookies & All-Pros on Thanksgiving Day that is supposed to begin shipping shortly after Christmas.
KS: How did you get started with your collection?
TT: I’ve been involved with lacrosse since I first played in high school in 1991, but it wasn’t until about seven years ago that I ever bothered looking for lacrosse cards. I was just killing time on eBay one day and ran some lacrosse-related searches for fun. I stumbled across the 1878 Huntley & Palmers set that I mentioned earlier. It’s not as rare a card as one might think for the age. The card was a PSA 5 with a $100 BIN and I was just smitten. I bought the card and then continued to run occasional searches. I slowly learned what has been printed over the years and started building my own checklists. For the first several years I focused solely on vintage cards, but over the last few years I’ve been buying modern cards and building some of the newer sets as well.
KS: Is there a dream item you’d like to have in your collection?
TT: Hmmm… Not really a single item or card. However, I do have a few favorite players such as Brodie Merrill and Wes Berg that I PC. They have autos and parallels in the new 2021 Topps set, and I would really enjoy completing parallel rainbows for both of them, but with them having multiple 1/1 cards, that is unlikely to happen. I’m fortunate that I began collecting lacrosse before prices started to rise, so I already have a pretty nice collection.
KS: We’ve seen such an incredible boom in the hobby over the past few years. How has that boom translated to the lacrosse trading card market?
TT: It took lacrosse cards much longer to experience the boom than other sports. In fact, it has only been in the past few months that prices really started to rise. But that rise has been pretty drastic. Only a few months ago I picked up a couple of Gary Gait (considered by many to be the greatest player of all time) rookie cards on eBay for less than $10 each. But things seemed to change almost overnight. Those cards have now dried up, and the only listing I’ve seen in the months since sold a few weeks ago for $225. We’ve since seen similar price increases for a number of players, including Paul Rabil, Mike Powell, John Grant, Jr., Lyle Thompson and others.
The 2021 PLL cards were sold via the Topps website in eight-card packs for $10 each. The allotment sold out two weeks prior to the scheduled end of the sale. Unopened packs are now selling between $40-$60 on eBay. Low-numbered parallels and autos are selling really well, with several sales going topping $400. Of course, these are all raw cards, and grading has yet to really become a part of lacrosse cards. Once PSA graded lacrosse cards begin to hit the market, I would expect prices to increase again.
Writer’s Note: Be sure to check back in a few weeks for Part 2 of our interview.
Hobby Musings: Lacrosse Cards, An In-depth Look with Todd Tobias – More Resources
- Lax Card Archive
- Premier Lacrosse League (PLL)
- Parkside Collectibles – Major League Lacrosse (MLL)
- 2021 Topps Lacrosse Cards
Hobby Musings: Lacrosse Cards, An In-depth Look with Todd Tobias – Image Gallery
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
- Hobby Musings: Graig Kreindler Brings Baseball to Life - January 8, 2022
- Hobby Musings: TRISTAR Continues Hidden Treasures in 2022 - December 21, 2021
- Hobby Musings: Talking Lacrosse Cards with Todd Tobias, Part 2 - December 17, 2021