Thirty million. Just the sound of that number makes you sit up and take notice. As of this week, the figure now has new meaning as Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) has certified more than 30 million different trading cards, autographs and sports collectibles since its inception in 1991. In fact, at the time of this writing, the running ticker on the company’s website read: “30,003,103 Collectibles Certified.” The historic 30,000,000 milestone was reached with the certification of a 2000 Playoff Contenders #144 Tom Brady autographed rookie card. The item, which received a grade of PSA Near Mint-Mint+ (NM-MT+) 8.5, was submitted by a longtime trading card collector from Tampa, Florida, who wishes to remain anonymous.
“PSA is certainly very proud of reaching this significant number,” said Joe Orlando, president of PSA who has been with the company since its earliest days. “We’ve had so many different collectibles come through the doors here over the years that it seems only appropriate that future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady’s signed rookie card was recognized as our 30 millionth certified piece.”
The prized collectible was originally released as part of the 2000 Playoff Contenders football card set. Brady, who was selected by the New England Patriots in the sixth round (199th pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft, graces card #144. Though there was little fanfare at the start of the new millennium for the QB in waiting, the University of Michigan grad has made his impact felt ever since a vicious sideline hit by N.Y. Jets linebacker Mo Lewis was delivered to then-Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe on Sept. 23, 2001. Once Brady entered the game, Bledsoe never started another game behind center for New England. As for the Playoff Contenders set, beyond its 100 base level cards, it includes 50 NFL Rookie Ticket Autographed cards, 40 NFL Europe Rookie Ticket Autographed cards and 10 NFL Playoff Ticket Veteran Autographed cards. The signed example of Brady features an embossed “Playoff Authentic Signature” stamping on the card front and a gold-foil ticket design along the right side. It’s now a very pricey card that continues to escalate in value with each of Brady’s five (and counting) Super Bowl trophies.
It’s certainly an important certified collectible in PSA’s 27-year history, but is only one item in the company’s long legacy of distinguished pieces. One can just imagine the variety of submissions that have been certified as authentic and/or graded by the experts at PSA over the years. Among the most notable are the hand written 1857 “Laws of Base Ball” documents that sold for $3.26 million in 2016 and a baseball bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the very first home run in the original Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923, that sold for $1.2 million in 2004. Other significant certified pieces have included Jackie Robinson’s signed Brooklyn Dodgers contract from his history-making and color-barrier-breaking 1947 MLB season, and the historic “Lucky 7 Find” of seven rare 1909-11 T206 Ty Cobb baseball cards with their ultra-rare “Ty Cobb King of the Smoking Tobacco World” backs.
Any guesses as to what the company’s 40 millionth certified collectible will be? Who knows, Brady might even still be playing by then.