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My History of Sports Illustrated for Kids Cards (Some Autographed and Some Graded)

Posted 4/19/23 | Filed under General

When the first Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine came out in 1989, card collectors paid basically zero attention even though bound inside each magazine was a perforated sheet of 9 cards of standout athletes from various sports. What made the card sheets unique was it wasn't just the traditional big four American team sports (baseball, basketball, football and hockey) that were represented. It was golf, soccer, tennis, volleyball and countless other sports that had minimal or even zero previous trading cards in existence.

Eventually, 7 years later, when Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters, sports card collectors immediately realized his first card -- his first real Rookie Card -- was his 1996 Sports Illustrated for Kids card. The value suddenly shot up to hundreds of dollars as collectors went scurrying for that particular issue that contained Tiger's suddenly red hot RC. The increased interest in SI for Kids cards was focused mainly on that one specific card.

Interest in other SI for Kids cards increased slowly but steadily over the years but it wasn't until the covid pandemic hit in 2020 that things went crazy. Trading card collectors in lockdown got all excited about SI for Kids tennis cards, especially the Serena Williams 1999 Rookie Card. Collectors, dealers and investors started realizing that for many athletes of sports they previously ignored such as Extreme and Olympic sports, their true Rookie Cards were SI for Kids cards.

My personal interest in SI for Kids cards was immediate. In 1989 I had just started worked for Beckett Baseball Card Monthly and in my spare time in Dallas, I ran around town collecting autographs. Not just of baseball, basketball, football and hockey players either. I was already actively collecting autographs of whatever big name athletes were in town, from figure skaters to golf, soccer and tennis stars. I found the SI for Kids card sheets to be ideal for my obsession.

I obtained autographs in person on as many card sheets as I could. I stockpiled unsigned card sheets when I found them in local card shops and shows. I even sent some sheets off to paid signings. This continued past my time at Beckett, which ended in 1998, but as the years went by it got more and more difficult to obtain sports autographs in person in general, not to mention on the sheets. I did, however, manage to complete several SI for Kids 9 card sheets (occasionally with a little cheating by pasting a signed single card onto the 9 card sheet). I was pretty damn proud of myself every time I finished a sheet.

In 2011, when Rory McIlroy was featured on his SI for Kids Rookie Card, I realized his potential and managed to buy out the entire inventory from Sports Illustrated. In the 10 years that followed I sold hundreds of ungraded and graded McIlroy RCs and my entire inventory is now graded by Beckett Grading Services.

Last year, after dealing with the covid sales frenzy, and probably selling a lot of SI for Kids cards too cheap, I went back to my personal SI for Kids collection and started going through them, sheet by sheet. I have lots of ungraded cards for sale and plenty graded by Certified Sports Guaranty. I'm pretty sure I still have the largest inventory of SI for Kids cards anywhere. The sheets that were partially signed, I decided either to try to finish them or start breaking them, and the most valuable signed SI for Kids cards I've gotten authenticated and/or graded by Beckett Authentication Services or PSA/DNA.

Whatever I have for sale will always be listed on and trust me, I'm only halfway done with processing my collection for sale.