Lacrosse is considered by many to be America’s oldest sport. While the first official rule book was written in 1868, the game can actually be traced back centuries earlier when versions of the sport were played in Native American communities primarily in the Northeast, but also in other areas of North America.
The first lacrosse card was issued by the Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Company as part of a 12-card multi-sport set in 1878. The card measures 3″ wide by 4-1/2″ high and features a full-color, lithographic depiction of a lacrosse game. Lacrosse cards have been issued sporadically ever since, with the most recent major release being the 2021 Topps Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) First Edition Set, a 55-card issue featuring top rookies and All-Pro players from the 2021 PLL season.
To this point professional lacrosse has been primarily relegated to the back of the sports pages. However, things have started to change since the PLL made its debut in 2019. The sport as a whole has grown significantly in recent years and several important events now ensure that it will continue to be viewed by more people than ever before. Consider the following, all of which has occurred during the last two years:
- July 2020 – A partnership is announced making DraftKings the exclusive Official Sports Betting Partner of the Premier Lacrosse League.
- June 2021 – Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Dustin Johnson announce their co-ownership of a new National Lacrosse League (Professional Indoor/Box Lacrosse) expansion team in Las Vegas.
- July 2021 – Nike announces a collaboration with lacrosse player Lyle Thompson to honor his native heritage with a new shoe line in the N7 Collection.
- 2022 – ESPN has been airing across several platforms more than 250 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse games including the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Lacrosse Championships, in addition to securing PLL and NLL broadcast deals.
- 2022 – Topps issued three dedicated lacrosse trading card sets: PLL First Edition; Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse (first such women’s set Topps has ever produced); and PLL Holiday Edition.
- In a recent study carried out by the NCAA, men’s and women’s lacrosse were officially labeled the fastest growing sport in America over the past 15 years and has been the focus of substantial investment at all levels, from the leading national governing bodies all the way down to local youth and community clubs.
The result in the trading card world has been a surge in hobby interest in the three new Topps sets and a significant increase in prices for previously released lacrosse issues.
All three Topps sets were released through Topps’ On Demand service. The PLL sets could be ordered off the Topps website in eight-card packs for $10.00, while the AU cards were issued in complete sets for $19.99. All three base sets were accompanied by short parallel lineups, while the Premier Edition and AU sets also contained autographed cards.
Low-numbered parallels and autos were instantly popular among fans and collectors, with several 1-of-1’s from the Holiday Edition selling on eBay for more than $4,000 each in raw form. With collectors taking advantage of PSA’s recent submission events, PSA graded lacrosse cards are now just beginning to hit the secondary market. Older material such as rookie cards of lax legends like Gary Gait, Paul Rabil, Lyle Thompson and others have also seen a significant rise in popularity and now command prices that would have been unthinkable just a year ago.
It would seem that as lacrosse continues to grow as both a spectator and participation sport, that we are only seeing the very beginning of what could be an emerging market for this area of the hobby. Just one more reason to start looking into trading cards featuring the fastest sport on two feet!