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Pickleball and Trading Cards? Yes, they both have arrived...

Well, it is official. Pickleball has arrived. A few recent milestones in the growth of Pickleball has convinced me Pickleball is breaking free from a novelty status to a permanent place in mainstream American culture.


First, about every day I am forwarded a media post pertaining to Pickleball.  Videos, memes, cartoons, scores, coaching tips, PPA highlights, and hot topic posts covering everything from paddle reviews to rules questions. I began to take notice of the number of views of each post. The results indicate there are huge numbers of people consuming Pickleball related content on social media. There is no shortage of people online debating, learning, arguing, and just freaking out about Pickleball. Some of my the most popular Pickleball content is created by the husband-and-wife comedy team known as the Holderness Family. Their infamous homemade video skits feature Pickleball players of certain stereotypes and situations a fellow Pickleball player can appreciate. One of the most popular features a Septarian couple, laden with knee and wrist braces, who quicky dispatch their younger and overly confident opponents with ease. The Holderness Family posts have over a million unique combined views, and they are one the premier online Pickleball influencers.


Second, was the moment I saw the news of the E*trade Super Bowl commercial featuring toddlers playing Pickleball. This wasn’t the first commercial featuring Pickleball on national television, but it was shown on the biggest stage. Advertisers dished out $7 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot and are viewed by nearly a billion people. Over the past two decades E*Trade Super Bowl commercials have set the bar on how to be the most popular and talked about Super Bowl commercials, and this year they chose Pickleball.


Third, was the airing of the recent PPA finals in Mesa, Arizona on national television. The mixed doubles and singles championship matches were aired live on FOX on a Sunday afternoon. Any number of NBA, NHL, and NCAA Basketball games could have been featured during this time slot, but FOX dedicated 2 hours of afternoon coverage to Pickleball. Perhaps thousands of people flipping channels stumbled onto the broadcast and saw Ben and Anna cruise to their latest championship, and maybe became new fans of the Pickleball.


Lastly, was the moment I learned there are Pickleball trading cards. I discovered Pickleball trading cards from an advertisement during my Facebook browsing. Yup, somehow the powers that be figured out because of the dozens of Pickleball groups I follow, and my Google searches for Pickleball scores and reviews, that maybe I might be interested in buying a Pickleball trading card. I clicked the link and was taken to hundreds of online auctions featuring Pickleball cards on Ebay. My initial thought browsing through the available cards was, “How the heck did I now know these existed until now? Was I the last person on the planet to not know about these?” I discovered in fact they didn’t exist until recently having only been available to the public since the latter part of 2023. I picked a card I liked, placed a bid, and won. With a winning bid of $74.50 I had become the newest member of the Pickleball trading card community.


There was no doubt of who I wanted to be my first Pickleball card. No other than, The GOAT, Benjamin Johns. The pride of Maryland. The card is a 2023 LEAF card, which had been graded a “9” by the Beckett grading services. (If you are not familiar with the card grading system there is some information at the end). This first card didn’t stay alone long in my quickly growing collection.


The second card I wanted to find and purchase would have to feature the other Pickleball GOAT on the women’s side, Anna Leigh Waters. The card I chose was an exclusive Anime Nation card featuring the art of Anime artist, Shion Minabe. It’s a unique card design I think captures her character with her wearing a crown befitting the status as the Queen of Pickleball. The card is also graded a “9” and I paid $35 on eBay, which was a relative steal with other identical cards of the same grade selling for over $80.


The two cards I purchased are part of the 2023 LEAF Pickleball card set. The 2023 LEAF set will stand in time as the first comprehensive set of cards solely dedicated to Pickleball. The set features 41 professional Pickleball players with several unique styles and colors of cards in relatively limited quantities. In comparison, to baseball and football cards, which are annually printed by the millions to satisfy the demand, and circulation of the LEAF set numbers in the thousands. Some of the rarest and most sought-after cards in any set are those personally autographed by the athletes. Autographed cards in the LEAF Pickleball set number less than 30 for each player in each variation. Some exclusive cards are even rarer with less than 5 available throughout the set. All the cards in the set are marked with a “RC,” standing for rookie card. This is due to the fact they are the first cards made and therefore by default all rookie cards. This rookie designation is not indicative of how long the athlete has been playing professionally, it refers to the card being their first produced by LEAF. As other manufactures release their own first Pickleball sets, these also will be marked as rookie cards for their brand.


In time, rookie cards typically become the most valuable cards for the most accomplished athletes. The 2023 LEAF set provides an opportunity for you to get your own rookie card of the future Pickleball Hall of Famers playing today. Imagine having the opportunity to go back in time 24 years, and grabbing a Tom Brady rookie card on the cheap long before he became the GOAT of the NFL (the rarest have sold at auction for nearly a million dollars). It is a long shot a Ben Johns or Anna Leigh Waters rookie card will ever be as valuable as Brady’s rookie cards. But it is fun to grab a piece of Pickleball history now and place a bet on the huge future potential of the sport.


If you think you missed out on this LEAF year’s set, don’t worry. There are many cards on online auction sites to grab your own. But act soon, the prices of the most desirable cards have risen dramatically as collectors grab them up and limit their availability. The tremendous demand for the LEAF set has been noticed, and future sets created by LEAF and other card manufactures will flood the market offering plenty of rookie cards featuring the current and future generations of Pickleball stars.


The next Ben and Anna are out there, and I will be on the lookout for their cards.





PickleMeSilly is an authorized LEAF Pickleball Trading Card retailer. We have a special offer for our followers purchase the LEAF 2023 Anna Leigh Waters Metallic Pack at discount. Visit our Merchandise Page to secure yours now.

 

The 2024 LEAF Pickleball set is scheduled for release in May. If you are interested in being notified for purchase opportunities, please sign up for our mailing list and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Pre-sale reservations will be available to secure your cards.

 




Notes on card grading services - The growth in card grading services have coincided with the explosive growth in card values and fraudulent card scams. Graded cards are intrinsically more valuable than ungraded cards, but the educated buyer can find gems without a grading. Grading services professionally inspect cards for condition issuing a grade of between 1 and 10 based on surface condition, centering, color quality, and edge conditions.

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Collin Johns and Federico Staksrud 2023 LEAF cards

Grading services also will validate the signature to ensure its authenticity, and this can be done exclusive of the overall card condition. Not all grading services are equally recognized for their grading abilities. I recommend avoiding any cards not marked with PSA, BGS, SGC, and CSG. Each grading company has their own unique plastic case to protect the card and prevent tampering. When purchasing a graded card, inspect the case carefully and avoid cases with significant surface defects or evidence of tempering. Cased cards can be resubmitted for reevaluation if you think the initial grading is incorrect. Prices for grading services vary and the service can take several months to process due to the high demand.

 

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