Mark Zuckerberg Little League Card Sells for Over $120K in Record Deal
As a counselor at Elmwood Country Day Camp, Allie Tarantino was used to receiving notes and other mementos from his campers over the years.
Always having a collector’s mindset, Tarantino kept these items of affection in boxes.
But he never expected that day in 2005, when he read in a magazine that Mark Zuckerberg was the young entrepreneur behind Facebook.
It was the same Mark Zuckerberg that was his camper some 13 years prior. The same Zuckerberg who, at the end of the summer, gave Allie his Little League Baseball card and signed it.
Zuckerberg didn't make the Majors, but that baseball card still sold for $120,750 on Wednesday night, including buyer's premium at auction house Comic Connect.
"Don't be afraid to save everything," Tarantino said. "I have friends who have made fun of me for holding onto everything. They don't make fun of me anymore."
Once Tarantino saw the magazine article, he found the card and put it in a hard case. Five years ago, Tarantino got in touch with Stephen Fishler of Comic Connect, the nation’s leader in comic book auctions, and asked him what he thought of the card.
Fishler waffled and understandably so. The memorabilia market for famous people when they were kids hadn't developed to the degree it has now.
“All I knew was that the kid on this card had more impact in the is world than almost any athlete on earth,” Fishler said.
Once Covid came around, Fishler made it his project. He confirmed the connection between Tarantino and Zuckerberg, he contacted the photo company who made the card to assure they did so and began the process of talking to the card grading companies about slabbing it.
It was also during that time that Fishler said he realized the card was likely worth more than he originally thought.
“During Covid, people were offering me cards of guys like Wander Franco for $200,000,” Fishler said. “I didn’t even know who Wander Franco was. I thought he was actually the guy who was offering me the card.”
What also happened over Covid was the "star as a child" market developed substantially. A signed baseball by a Little Leaguer named Mike Jordan sold for $36,000 and a Lionel Messi ID card from his earliest days as a soccer player sold for $181,000.
The one issue with selling the card would be that Zuckerberg himself hadn’t weighed in, a possibility that both men discounted until Tarantino remembered a camp contact who worked at Facebook.
That contact showed Zuckerberg the card and Fishler was soon on the phone with Facebook’s lawyers.
“They told us that Mark was willing to comment, but that they didn’t want his comment to be perceived as driving the price of the card up,” Fishler said.
So the agreement would be that there would be some distance in between Zuckerberg’s comments and the auction taking place.
On Aug. 4, Zuck took to Instagram with an image of the card.
“In honor of expanding digital collectible NFTs to 100 more countries on Instagram and launching new integrations with Coinbase and Dapper, I’m sharing my soon to be NFT old little league baseball card, which someone recently sent to me. @ComicConnect has the backstory on my baseball card.”
An AP story that followed generated even more buzz for the card and the NFT, which is being sold separately. The only question that remained was: how much was the card going to go for?
“I’ve bought and sold almost every type of collectible,” Fishler said. “I sold $5 million worth of comic books last week. And this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to put a value on. Something exactly like this has never been sold. You can’t compare it to anything in the world of modern sports cards.”
Another: could Zuckerberg himself drive the price up?
Fishler said he asked the Facebook lawyers if Zuck would like to bid and didn’t get an answer. He can say, however, that no person named Mark Zuckerberg has registered to bid on the card as of Wednesday morning, which lists his batting average as .920.
Perhaps Zuck himself is pocket watching more, after falling out of the list of the Top 10 Richest Americans this week. He has lost more than half his net worth over the last year, nearly $77 billion, on account of Facebook's share price tumbling. Now, he's No. 11 on Forbes' list.
No matter how the auction ends up, it’s an incredible story about a counselor who, 32 years later, is still working at the same camp, telling fond stories about his former camper, the one who became a tech titan.
“Mark was memorable. He was always talking a mile a minute!” Tarantino said.