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The Surprise Unveiling Of Game Worn Cards

game worn cards

We’ve all heard of game-worn jerseys, often included in patch cards. But now, Topps is introducing unique and intriguing concept-game-worn cards. These are not just any cards but ones that the players wear during the game. This innovative idea raises several questions.

Why is this happening? Is it a positive or negative development? Will this trend endure? And most importantly, are these cards valuable? We delve into these queries in our article, exploring the potential investment opportunity these cards may present.

With their rarity and unique nature, game-worn cards could potentially offer significant financial benefits and returns for savvy investors.

What is behind the idea of Game Worn Cards?

The video PSA released has some exciting insights into the profound significance of Game Worn Cards.

They say, “What if the script was flipped? What if the grail was a PSA 1, scored and prized for the dirt that accrued over nine innings of Major League Baseball? Because game worn truly meant game worn.”

YouTube video

Indeed, the cards involved in this are some of the lowest-graded specimens of cards in recent years. It’s common for cards from the 1940s and 1950s to get PSA 2s and 3s.

However, for most recent cards, it is unusual to find them at grades lower than a PSA 7. Take, for example, the 2023 Topps Corbin Carroll #401. There are currently 3,033 PSA-graded copies of the base card. Among them, 1,994 are PSA 10.

Because, after all, anything below a gem mint is probably not worth grading. And there is only one card graded at a 3. That one is included in this project.

How were the Game-Worn Cards made?

The MLB carefully selected some of its most revered players, known for their aggressive style of play, to participate in this unique project. On a memorable Friday, March 29th, PSA visited Phoenix to meet Corbin Carroll, the 2023 National League Rookie of the Year.

They presented him with a stack of rookie cards, and in a nostalgic move, the outfielder placed six cards in the back of his pocket, along with a stick of gum. He then went on to play the entire game, contributing to Arizona’s victory with a score of 7-3.

Carroll’s 1 for 4-performance was a testament to his skill and dedication. After the game, he handed the cards to PSA, marking a significant moment in sports memorabilia history. This emotional connection between the player and the cards adds a unique and sentimental value to these game-worn cards.

The next player to participate in this exciting project was Kansas City Royals rookie sensation Bobby Witt Jr. On March 30th, PSA brought the cards to him for the game. The hard-hitting shortstop placed 7 of the cards in his pocket, actively participating in creating these unique memorabilia.

Bobby had a stellar game, hitting two doubles and two for three. Despite KCs loss to the Twins with a score of 5-1, the cards were part of the action, which is the essence of this project.

Behind the scenes

The use of these cards was kept secret from everyone else involved in the game. Witt explained, “It was good to keep it a secret. I don’t think they [my teammates] knew that I did this. I didn’t want to be a distraction.”

The players didn’t think of the cards much while they were playing. Witt said, “I put them in my left back pocket and slide on my right. So they weren’t as banged up as they could have been. I knew they had sweat marks so that they wouldn’t get good grades.”

Two Card Lovers

Bobby Witt Jr. is one of the most popular investments among young baseball players. But he is also a long-time collector. In a recent athletic interview, he said, “I grew up collecting cards my whole life.” Because Witt and Carroll love cards, PSA let the two pick the cards they wanted to use on this occasion.

They also gave props to a fellow hardcore card-collecting baseball player. Both Witt Jr. and Carroll have one card dedicated to Evan Longoria, who is friends with both players.

Longoria was the 2007 Rookie of the Year and a three-time All-Star. His collection is famous, and Evan is known for bringing cards into the locker room to open with his teammates.

Both players note that they bonded with Longoria, whom they call “Longo,” over cards, which helped them get into the hobby more.

Inscriptions on the Game-Worn cards

After the game, the players were asked to write inscriptions on the cards. There is a cool one from Corbin that includes a summary of his entire career so far:

“2019: First Year; 2020: Covid; 2021: Injured; 2022: Debut; 2023 NL ROY; 2024: ?” In another, he explains how the card commemorates his “first hit of the season.” Meanwhile, in one of his cards, Witt jokes that he will never do this again because the Royals lost.

Both have good handwriting and a better sense of humor, making these cards much cooler. Also, even though these cards are officially billed as /6 for Carroll and /7 for Witt Jr., they are each 1/1.

They all have unique inscriptions that make them different from the other cards. It is also worth noting that Topps used all sorts of cards for this release, making each one more unique.

The cards included

Here is a complete list of the cards the company used in this project.

The Bobby Witt Jr. Cards (2.64 avg. PSA grade)

  • 2022 Topps Heritage Bobby Witt Jr. #520 (PSA 3.5) – 1/7
  • 2022 Topps Update Bobby Witt Jr. #US100 (PSA 3) – 2/7
  • 2022 Topps Update Bobby Witt Jr. #87BU7 (PSA 2) – 3/7
  • 2022 Topps Heritage Bobby Witt Jr. #520 (PSA 4) – 4/7
  • 2020 Bowman Bobby Witt Jr. #BP25 (PSA 2) – 5/7
  • 2022 Topps Update Bobby Witt Jr. #87BU7 (PSA 1) – 6/7
  • 2020 Bowman Bobby Witt Jr. #BP25 (PSA 3) – 7/7

The Corbin Carroll Cards (2.64 avg. PSA grade)

  • 2019 Bowman Draft Corbin Carroll #BD125 (PSA 1.5) – 1/6
  • 2023 Topps Heritage Corbin Carroll #209 (PSA 3) – 2/6
  • 2023 Topps Corbin Carroll #401 (PSA 1.5) – 3/6
  • 2019 Bowman Draft Corbin Carroll #BD125 (PSA 1) – 4/6
  • 2023 Bowman Corbin Carroll #73 (PSA 2) Corbin Carroll – 5/6
  • 2023 Topps Corbin Carroll #2T865 (PSA 3) – 6/6

What will the value be?

These cards are likely going to go through the roof in price. There is always a chance that fans will reject these cards because of the low grade. But that seems unlikely. The cards are essentially 1/1s since each one is different.

They feature beloved and remarkable young players. And perhaps most importantly, they are wonderfully attractive. PSA picked lovely cards, and both players decorated them remarkably well. It is hard to believe that the reaction of collectors will be anything other than, “I want them!” That was certainly my reaction.

It also helps that most of these cards may never see the market. PSA is giving away two randomly to people submitting cards (more below). But the rest will be pocketed by the players. They can keep the cards or give them out to whoever they want. Therefore, not all will surface.

How can you get your hands on a game-worn card?

PSA is putting together a particularly cool giveaway for the two cards allotted for that. The two cards that you can get are the following:

  • 2023 Bowman Corbin Carroll #73 (PSA 2) Corbin Carroll – 5/6
  • 2020 Bowman Bobby Witt Jr. #BP25 (PSA 3) – 7/7

Game-worn giveaways are in play for each player, #2-inscribed and poorly graded because these stars play hard. To be automatically entered to win, submit for Value Plus service or above through June 30, 2024. Winners will be randomly selected by July 12th. No purchase necessary for entry.”

As you can see, you are allowed to enter this sweepstakes without submitting your cards. That is because of a variety of laws in the US that do not allow that sort of condition. Therefore, if you don’t feel like submitting to PSA but still want a chance to win these awesome cards, you can do so.

Just send a 3”x5” notecard with your full name, address, email address, and phone number,

indicating that it is for the “PSA Game-Worn Cards Sweepstakes” to the following address:

  • Collectors Universe, Inc., d/b/a PSA
  • Attn: Ryan Greene
  • 1610 E. Saint Andrew Place
  • Santa Ana, California 92705

We always have your back here at Cardlines. PSA tries to hide this stuff!

New innovations in card collecting

As the hobby grows, companies like Fanatics and PSA seek new ways to make exclusive and desirable cards. The MLB is increasingly cooperating with these efforts as they bring more money and attention to the game.

The “Game Worn Cards” initiative seems similar to the recent “Debut Patches” initiative. Rookie making their MLB debut this season will wear a distinctive patch on a memorabilia card.  

The two are related because they show how deeply integrated the league is with the hobby. The “Debut Patches” cards are the first time a professional sports league specifically created patches for uniforms for the benefit of a trading card release.

Previously, the companies would obtain memorabilia that the athletes used anyway and incorporate it into their products.

The incorporation of athletes into this by physically placing the cards on their person and signing them are similarly interactive. These are new developments, reflecting the massive amounts of money that are now involved in the hobby.

Final word on game used cards

It is hard to know if this is a fad that will disappear or a lasting addition to the hobby. But I would bet on the latter. These cards combine so many cool things that we all love.

Everyone wants game-used memorabilia, and these cards got a particularly notable amount of attention from some great players. The cards are on-card autos with utterly unique inscriptions. And the low grade of these items only makes them more unique.

Along with the “Debut Patches,” this is an excellent idea that will create more unique bonds between the game of baseball and the hobby.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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