Tom Brady was a strong baseball prospect before he became (sorry, but there is really no argument here) the greatest football player of all time. And he has now retired. For real, this time. We think.
So Topps announced they would pay tribute to the GOAT and the baseball career that could have been. Bowman will release Bowman 1sts of Tom Brady, featuring him as a Montreal Expos prospect.
Yup, Brady was a highly-rated high school catcher and was drafted by the Canadian team in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft. So, what can we expect from these Bowman 1st Tom Brady baseball cards? How much will they be worth? We have answers.
The announcement on the Tom Brady baseball card
Every year, Topps holds a conference. This year, the Topps 2023 Industry Conference was more important than ever. After all, Fanatics (the owner of Topps) is poised to become a complete monopoly after winning the rights to the NBA and NFL.
For our purposes, the most important announcement was that a Tom Brady card would be included in the coming Bowman products. And yes, there will be auto versions available. And to make it even more excellent, these cards will be issued as Bowman 1sts of Tom Brady.
The cards will presumably be part of the highly anticipated Bowman 2023 line of releases. That factor and his elevated celebrity status should guarantee good value. How good? We will try to figure that out below.
But the folks at Topps did not disappoint and provided several dramatic announcements at the Arizona-hosted event. The first was that in the future, the company would lower the number of redemptions included in their products.
Welcome news by all accounts. Topps will also start to include Bowman refractors for players without a Bowman 1st in that year’s product. That will likely lower the average refractor’s value, which has not been well received.
Tom Brady’s baseball career
Tom Brady is best remembered for being an inseparable part of the New England Patriots and their franchise history. However, he also has an essential role in the lore of another unlikely franchise. The Washington Nationals. Well, their antecedent team, the Montreal Expos.
Usually, the 507th overall pick in the 18th round is not particularly important. But aside from the selection of Mike Piazza in the 62 round back in 1988, it may be the most important low selection of a catcher ever. The Expos picked Tom in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft. He was a left-handed catcher from Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, California.
And what makes the selection important, aside from the identity of the player in question, is that it was the last pick the Montreal Expos would ever make. Months later, they moved to our nation’s capital. Indeed, when Brady retired, it ended the career of the last player drafted by the Expos in any professional sport. So, in a way, the Montreal franchise has now died its final death.
What does Tom Brady’s low draft position mean?
I know what you are thinking. Selected 507th? How good could he have been? Keep in mind that the pick was this low because everyone knew Brady was a decent enough football player and would likely choose football. The Expos just wanted to hold on to the rights in case it didn’t work out.
Turns out, it did. Brady went to the University of Michigan and ended up having a career in the pros. Or so I hear.
And here is another thing to consider. Several strong MLB players were selected after the future quarterback in the 1995 MLB Draft. Four-time All-Star Mike Lowell was drafted in the 20th round. Gabe Kapler, Aaron Miles, Brian Fuentes, and Brad Lidge also came after Brady. If so, don’t hold the relatively low spot the catcher was selected against him.
With opening day today, excited to announce we’re bringing the Expos back to the MLB in 2022. Excited to be the first player/coach/owner in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/Sre5y5LUL2
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) April 1, 2021
How good was Tom Brady at baseball?
Brady started as a first-baseman for Junipero Serra High School because mobility was never his main selling point. But in 1995, he switched to an even more stationary position behind the plate.
There his average improved, and he also found some power. By the way, if that school sounds familiar, it’s because Barry Bonds went to the same school. Brady hit .311 with eight home runs in two varsity seasons. He already had enough power to hit a home run at the Mariners’ stadium with a wooden bat.
Indeed, Tom was good enough to make the All-West Catholic Athletic League all-star baseball team as a catcher. The All-Star team included future Phillies and Giants World Series winner Pat Burrell.
Baseball and football are incredibly different sports. You already know that. And for every Bo Jackson, there are many more from other sports who just couldn’t cut it on the diamond. But there is certainly a similarity between the quarterback and catcher roles.
The brilliant analytical and decision-making skills Brady brought to the game would have significantly contributed to his pitch management. And let’s just try to imagine that arm throwing out base stealers.
The Expos general manager who drafted Brady, Kevin Malone, said, “I think he could have been one of the greatest catchers ever,” Malone said, according to Bleacher Report. “I know that’s quite a statement, but the projections were based on the fact we had a left-hand-hitting catcher, with arm strength and who was athletic. … But his first love was football.”
Scout John Hughes (no, not the director of Pretty in Pink) agreed, “I think he would have been a pro. He had all the intangibles. He could throw left-handed power. There is no reason to think this guy couldn’t have been a big-league catcher.”
Was baseball ever a REAL option for Brady?
Was there any chance Brady would pick baseball anyway? The precocious young player was interested enough to work out with the Expos at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. But Montreal’s plan to entice him with the wonders of baseball backfired.
Expos outfielder F.P. Santangelo remembers trying to convince Tom to pursue football: “We’re like, why in the world would you make $800 a month, play in front of 100 people in the minor leagues, riding buses for 10 hours when you can play in front of 100,000 people at Michigan’s Big House on Saturday,”
Santangelo said. “Enjoy the college experience. So, the experience kind of backfired. We were supposed to say, ‘hey Tom, play baseball, and we were like hey Tom, play football.” So, I guess baseball was never in the cards. Get it? Cards?
Are there Tom Brady Baseball Cards In Existence?
Why, yes. There are, indeed. Before you get excited, though, big sports card companies have no official cards. Back in 1995, they didn’t have Bowman Draft. And even if they did, a 507th pick which is more likely to choose football, is unlikely to be a top choice for the release.
So no cards are lurking around from those days. Brady didn’t even play a single game in the minors, so there are no minor league cards of the legendary quarterback.
And Brady finds them quite amusing. In April 2019, he Ttweeted that since the value of baseball contracts keeps increasing, he’s been trying to get the Expos on the phone for the month. Then he followed up with a picture of a custom-made Brady baseball card beneath it.
It came complete with an old-school ballplayer-style mustache. Baseball card connoisseurs will indeed note that this custom card was made in the style of 1983 Fleer.
Indeed, if you go on eBay, you will find several examples of unlicensed custom Brady cards. And there is a market for them. One individual made a batch of 282 and sold out of all of his stock.
The original batch cost $7.99, but they have a resale value of $15.50. And when these cards were first placed on the market, they went for $2.79. So, there is some money to be made in the Tom Brady baseball card racket. I can see why people like this one; it has a natural charm, and Tom makes a convincing MLB catcher.
There is a far uglier variety (sorry, but it’s true), worth about $5. It shows Tom with a bat and is obviously poorly photoshopped. And another “auto,” from the same creator, is also worth a fiver.
Are Tom Brady baseball cards going to be worthwhile?
The Tom Brady Bowman 1sts, autographed or not, will not be able to compete with his most valuable football cards. For example, his 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Rookie Ticket Autograph #144 sold for $2,252,854. That makes it among the top ten most valuable sports cards ever sold.
The potential was clearly there, but the Tom Brady baseball career was not to be. But, of course, he is now one of the world’s best-known and most beloved athletes. A comedy about four 80-year-olds who go to see Tom Brady (with Jane Fonda and Rita Moreno) came out this year.
And South Park has an episode about the health properties of his fecal matter. Yup, you read that right. So, anything involving the GOAT has the potential to truly explode.
Topps makes the right move by issuing these cards through the Bowman card line. There are two reasons this is the correct choice. First, Bowman cards have repeatedly proven to have more lasting value than other ultra-modern Topps cards.
Second, Brady was and (barring some bizarre Michael Jordan-type exercise) will forever remain a baseball prospect. And since Bowman is the traditional “home of the prospect,” this just feels right.
So, in my opinion, these cards will have good value. How good? We can only guess. But making some comparisons can help.
Past Equivalents To The Tom Brady Baseball Cards
As we mentioned, Tom Brady already has some baseball cards. But they are custom-made and not equivalent to the GOAT bombs Bowman will drop on us.
The best equivalents are limited edition cards of celebrities or players from other sports. And the hobby has a long tradition of those. So let’s take a look at a few examples and see their current value.
The George H.W. Bush baseball card
At first glance, you may wonder, what does our 41st President have in common with Tom Brady? Well, they were both good-looking and promising young ball players who became more famous doing something else.
Both became arguably the most powerful man in America. They each played first base, at least for a while. Both ran the CIA and married Giselle. Ok, so not that much in common.
But the idea behind the card isn’t that different. The company released the 1990 Topps President George Bush USA#1 card to pay tribute to a great man who was once a fine ball player. Topps was aware of the novelty of the release and produced a small number of these cards.
How small? There are 106 graded versions of the regular card and 13 of the special issue provided directly to the White House.
Therefore, the number is equivalent to some of the numbered refractors of the future Brady cards. People don’t often sell these cards because they are treasured. But there have been a couple of transactions. An authenticated (no number grade) version of the White House issue sold for $9,840. Meanwhile, a PSA 9 of the regular card went for $7,767. No PSA 10s have ever been sold.
Since Brady means more to the average sports fan than H.W. Bush ever did, Tom could be looking at significantly higher prices for his low-numbered cards. And, of course, POTUS didn’t sign these cards. So, the auto cards may be worth quite a bit more.
Michael Jordan baseball cards
Jordan has a bit more in common with Brady. They are both arguably the GOATs in their respective sport, and their cards are tremendously valuable. The top MJ card is worth $1,400. So, he is in the Brady ballpark. And Jordan also tried his luck at baseball and didn’t quite make it.
But there is also a couple of significant differences. First, Jordan’s foray into baseball was highly publicized and followed obsessively by the entire sports world.
Therefore, the general public has a lot more interest in it. But on the other hand, there is a wide array of cards dedicated to Jordan’s baseball career. Meanwhile, just a few custom-made Brady baseball cards are on the market.
Most of the high-end Jordan rookie baseball cards sell for under $10,000. But we predict the low-numbered cards from the Tom Brady Bowman, and indeed, the auto will be worth more than that.
Bowman 1sts is a stronger brand than any of those Jordan baseball cards were. And there will be no competition since none, but Topps can produce licensed baseball cards.
Final thoughts on the Bowman 1st Tom Brady baseball card
Tom Brady has not had much of a baseball career. Although, the Expos brass from back in the day insists he would have been pretty darn good. But the star power of Tom Brady and Bowman’s brand strength will guarantee a strong performance on the market.
This is doubly true if they can create an appealing design with an early photo of Tom in a baseball uniform. So, we expect the highest-end card Brady to reach the $10,000-$30,000 mark based on comparisons to the most similar cards we could find.
The introduction of the new Brady card may not be the most exciting news to come out of the Topps 2023 Industry Conference. But it’s another reason that Fanatics is good at spotting unique sports opportunities that Panini and Topps have previously missed.