Let me start off by saying it’s unfortunate, almost tragic that Shohei Ohtani’s rookie season has been marred by injuries. I would never celebrate a 23-year old’s need for a surgery that could ultimate end his pitching career before it truly started here in the states. I did say, however, that Shohei would be this generation’s Kerry Wood but never imagined he’d need Tommy John surgery. Unlike Wood, Ohtani can at least fall back on his hitting, which has been phenomenal.
This story is not about Shohei Ohtani. It’s about a rare baseball card and the man who found it. At one point, the ’18 Bowman Superfractor was the hottest card in #TheHobby. There was even a “bounty” placed on it by Blowout Cards, which started out modest and ballooned up to $100,000 dollars. John Muheim found the Superfractor, conveniently enough, shortly after the Blowout bounty expired. Kind of makes you wonder why Blowout would not step in and buy the card.
That was only the beginning.
Just 24 hours prior to finding hobby gold, collectors got a glimpse of not one but two Ohtani Superfractors thanks to Twitter. Two different collectors pulled the first ever Ohtani Supers, including a signed version from 2018 Finest. This meant that John’s pull of a lifetime was not the first Ohtani Superfractor to be seen by collectors or even to hit the market. Suddenly, the ’18 Bowman Ohtani Superfractor wasn’t so special. Just how many more Superfractors would land in 2018 products?
Oh, it only gets worse from here.
By this point, John’s card was quickly losing its luster. It appeared that the Blowout offer was off the table and multiple Ohtani Superfractors had already been discovered and placed on eBay. Before the hobby media had time to crown John for his “once in a lifetime” find, the bottom fell out. First, with the untimely death of beloved TV personality Anthony Bourdain, which dominated social media for well over 24 hours.
The second was perhaps the worst for the man holding the most valuable card of 2018, Shohei Ohtani was injured and suddenly found himself on the Disabled List. Again, all this within the span of 24 hours. Keep in mind that prior to finding the Superfractor, all Topps certified autographs of Ohtani were pushing 5K. Today, those very same cards are barely breaking 2K. #ThanksPanini
For collectors smart enough to avoid $4,500 prices for early Ohtani @topps autographs, you can now find several under $200 thanks to @PaniniAmerica flooding the market. These prices are pre TJ surgery, btw. #SpendYourMoneyWisely #Collect #TheHobby #JUNK pic.twitter.com/FNZphgJMvt
— Mario Alejandro (@TheWaxHeaven) September 9, 2018
A New Low for John…
After getting the Super slabbed by BGS, John put the card up for auction but not on eBay for some reason. Guess what happened the very next day? The Angels recommended Tommy John surgery for Ohtani, a move which could forever change Ohtani’s pitching career and finally put an end to the predictions of Ohtani being the “Next Babe Ruth”. With 11 days left, the card is sitting well below Blowout’s offer at $22,795. The question remains: Will the card break six figures?
I’ve been collecting baseball cards for 28 years and I’ve never had the luck of pulling a card as valuable and sought-after as John’s Shohei Ohtani Superfractor. As far as sales, the closest I’ve come was the sale of a piece of hair belonging to the wife of one of our presidents from an Upper Deck product and that card barely cracked $200 dollars. Keep in mind, this was a time when I bought Hobby boxes of every single product from Topps and Upper Deck so a ROI of $200 dollars was a drop in the bucket.
John’s pull was truly a once in a lifetime find. It’s unfortunate that timing and other outside factors will likely cause him to leave money on the table. From injuries and missed deadlines, to Topps and Panini flooding the market with Ohtani autographs, John’s card isn’t even that rare when you really think about it. We’ve seen multiple Ohtani Superfractors, seemingly dozens of 1/1s, and tens of thousands of autographs. Really, what’s so special about this one card anymore?
Oh, Ohtani Superfractor … you coulda been a contender.