Hobby Musings: Talking Lacrosse Cards with Todd Tobias, Part 2 – A few weeks ago, PSA’s Todd Tobias and I started discussing the lacrosse trading card market. If you missed it, you can check it out here. For Part 2, we talked about the state of the market and what the future could hold.
KS: Overall, what would you say is the state of lacrosse trading card market today, especially compared to say five years ago?
TT: The current state of lacrosse cards is both small and very strong. Collectors are really just learning about the genre. I interact with a lot of lacrosse fans on Twitter. Many of them are very interested in the new Topps cards by the looks of recent eBay sales are willing to spend good money on cards. However, most of them do not appear to come from a trading card background. I spend a lot of time trying to educate people about lacrosse cards and the hobby in general.
Lacrosse has had a number of very positive things happen recently that will contribute considerably to the sport’s popularity. I believe that this popularity will translate to lacrosse cards and really help to grow the genre.
KS: Who are some of the top players that collectors consistently chase?
TT: Because of the lack of earlier lacrosse cards, we are essentially talking about players from 1992-today. The best-known players of that era in terms of trading cards are Gary & Paul Gait, Paul Rabil, Lyle Thompson, the Powell brothers, John Grant, Jr., Rob Pannell and maybe Brodie Merrill. There are also legendary players who are not yet as popular in the card world, likely because their cards are not in many regular issue sets and are therefore more difficult to find. I would put guys like Dallas Eliuk, Tom Marechek, Mark Millon, Jim Veltman, Joe Walters, Dan Dawson, Greg Gurenlian, Kyle Harrison and Roy Colsey in that group. Lastly, there are young players that are active now and can be found in the Topps PLL and AU sets. Blaze Riorden, Zed Williams, Tom Schreiber, Myles Jones, Matt Rambo, Trevor Baptiste, Taylor Cummings, Alex Aust, Kylie Ohlmiller, Kayla Treanor and Sam Apuzzo are in that category.
However, the truth is that all college and professional lacrosse players are becoming appreciated at a much greater rate than ever before because fans have greater access to the games than ever before with a lot of streaming options, the NLL signed a new television deal with ESPN and many of the players are so active on podcasts and social media. Lacrosse sets all have relatively small checklists, so that allows for every card to become desirable quite easily.
KS: What is the most valuable lacrosse card currently out there?
TT: Honestly, I am not sure that can be adequately answered yet. Because the genre is so new and there is essentially no graded lacrosse material in the hobby yet, people are buying cards based solely on the popularity of the player. The two A&G sets, the AU and PLL sets are the only lacrosse issues to have parallels, so rarity has just begun to factor in with limited autos and parallels. The intricacies of grading and the difficulty associated with getting high grade material has not yet been established. The other thing to consider is that many of the first cards of premier players of 2000-2015 are team and league issues that were printed in very limited quantities and distributed to fans at games. The number that actually survived is far less than what was originally produced. The truth is that while cards are selling well now, there is every possibility that prices will increase considerably once the genre matures. That will happen as new collectors learn more about cards, existing collectors begin to expand their interests into lacrosse, and PSA graded cards begin to enter the market.
KS: Fun fact, Pro Football Hall of Famer, Jim Brown, played lacrosse too while at Syracuse. What kind of lacrosse memorabilia exists of Brown, if any?
TT: I have seen a few programs and ticket stubs for lacrosse games in which Jim Brown played, but I’ve never seen anything like a team issued photo, and trading cards were certainly not produced while he was playing lacrosse. Donruss issued a Signature Connections Combo insert set in their 2008 Sports Legends release. There is a #/25 dual auto card with Jim Brown and Syracuse lacrosse legend, Mikey Powell. While Brown is wearing a Cleveland Browns football helmet on the card, that is the closest thing I have seen to an official Jim Brown lacrosse card.
KS: Is there a particular lacrosse trading card you’d love to see get made that doesn’t currently exist?
TT: Hmmm… That’s an interesting question. The 1992-93 STX/Nastasi set has a fantastic card featuring Gary and Paul Gait, a legendary brother duo from Syracuse University. However, ‘Cuse also had another famous brother group in the Powells – Casey, Ryan and Mikey. A tri-auto card featuring all three does not currently exist but would be pretty fantastic.
KS: Putting you on the spot a little, what is your bold prediction for the lacrosse trading card world over the next couple of years?
TT: I honestly believe the sky is the limit with lacrosse cards. Consider the following things that have occurred in 2021 and that will continue to increase the sport’s popularity:
- Nike signed Native American lacrosse legend, Lyle Thompson to a signature shoe deal.
- Barstool Sportsbook officially opened betting lines on lacrosse.
- Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Dustin Johnson became part of an ownership group of an expansion professional box lacrosse team in Las Vegas.
- The International Olympic Committee granted full recognition to World Lacrosse during the 138th IOC session, which is a giant step forward in making lacrosse an Olympic sport.
- Streaming of PLL games was up 302% in 2021 over 2019.
- The PLL and National Lacrosse League (box lacrosse) both recently signed multi-year deals with ESPN to televise their games. ESPN also broadcasts NCAA lacrosse, so it will soon be much easier for people to watch and enjoy the game.
All of this translates into greater exposure for the game, which will help players become more popular and ultimately increase the desirability of lacrosse cards. Will lacrosse cards overtake baseball in the hobby? No. But there is an awful lot of room for growth.
As I mentioned earlier, things will really get interesting once the genre matures and PSA graded lacrosse cards begin entering the market. I have a difficult time putting together exact numbers and predictions but suffice it to say that I am extremely happy that I began collecting this genre in earnest several years ago and was able to build a nice collection prior to what I think will be a massive price explosion.
Hobby Musings: Talking Lacrosse Cards with Todd Tobias, Part 2 – More Resources
- Lax Card Archive
- Premier Lacrosse League (PLL)
- Parkside Collectibles – Major League Lacrosse (MLL)
- 2021 Topps Lacrosse Cards
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.
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