8+ Professional Athletes who Collect Sports Cards

Athletes that collect sports cards: 2011 Topps Update Cognac Diamond Anniversary Mike Trout ROOKIE #US175

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Last Updated On: September 6th, 2023

There are many professional athletes that are drawn to the hobby of collecting sports cards. Many of them have a deep connection to the sports they play, and collecting sports cards allows them to further appreciate the history and legacy of their respective sports. Just as all sports card collectors do, pro athletes can relive iconic moments, and connect with past legends or hall of famers by collecting cards.

Professional athletes can often develop a genuine love for the hobby during their own childhoods. They may have collected cards themselves as young fans, finding excitement in opening packs and trading with friends. As they progress through their careers to professional levels, their passion for collecting cards may reignite, driven by nostalgia and the desire to maintain a personal connection to the sport they love (and play).

In this post, we dive into the world of professional athletes who are sports card collectors, including some of the most popular MLB baseball, and NBA basketball players. We’ll explore their personal stories, favorite cards, and the impact they have on the growing sports card market.

MLB Baseball Players Who Collect Cards

There are many professional baseball players who collect sports cards as a hobby or for investment purposes. The following list is comprised of some of the more notable athletes known for their interest in collecting sports cards.

Mike Trout

Sport Played: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2011 – Present

MLB superstar Mike Trout is a big fan of collecting sports cards. Trout was recently interviewed on MLB’s Carded show (subscription required), where he spoke about how he started collecting cards as a kid and how it has become a bigger passion for him after becoming a dad. In his own words, he said, “I really got into it…I’m really deep into it right now.” Trout mentioned his motivation for building a great collection that he can ultimately pass down to his son some day.

What gets Mike Trout excited — like many of us collectors — is the chase. As he puts it, “It’s just the chase that I like… buying a case, or a pack or a box…” He enjoys the anticipation and the feeling of finding a special card and then texting his friends to gloat when he hits a big card.

Trout’s collecting interests go beyond baseball. When he was younger, Trout admitted he wished he had collected Michael Jordan. His admission is actually unsurprising given the sheer increase in value of Jordan’s cards. As for baseball, Trout was interested in collecting popular stars like Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, and Albert Pujols. And here’s an interesting tidbit — he mentioned that during the MLB off season, he was actively chasing after Jalen Hurts cards expecting him to ‘go off’ in the upcoming NFL season (and that he did, finishing runner-up in MVP voting).

Bobby Witt Jr.

Sport Played: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2022 – Present

Bobby Witt Jr. is a rising star for the Kansas City Royals. As with Trout, and Julio Rodriguez to follow, Witt Jr. was also featured on an episode of MLB’s Carded show where he talked about how he started collecting around eight to 10 years of age.

Bobby Witt Jr.’s collecting journey started with trips to Target where he would buy packs of sports cards. As he grew older, he would find his way to actual baseball card shops, but as with many people, Witt temporarily drifted away from collecting during his high school years. Even so, he would go on to revive his interest in sports cards again during the Covid pandemic when card demand soared. Witt even sent some cards to PSA — the most popular authentication and grading company — for the first time.

Bobby Witt Jr. also collaborated with Topps where he helped in the design of the 2022 Topps X Bobby Witt Jr. Crown Collection release. The Crown Collection checklist contains several short print autographs and relics, including a unique dual autograph card that is limited to 100 copies featuring Bobby Witt Jr. and his dad, Bobby Witt Sr. Witt Sr. himself played a 16-year career as an MLB pitcher before retiring after the 2001 season.

2022 Topps X Bobby Witt Jr Crown Collection Jr. & Sr. Dual Autograph Card #31-A (limited to 100 copies)
2022 Topps X Bobby Witt Jr Crown Collection Jr. & Sr. Dual Autograph Card #31-A (limited to 100 copies)

Among the cards in Witt’s collection, one card holds a special place of honor. It is the Tom Brady “on card auto” Ring of Honor produced by Topps in 2002. Additionally, Witt has rookie cards of NFL star Patrick Mahomes and a PSA 10 GEM MINT graded Mike Trout rookie card in his collection.

2002 Topps Tom Brady Ring of Honor on card Autograph Card Super Bowl MVP
2002 Topps Tom Brady Ring of Honor on card Autograph Card Super Bowl MVP

Witt Jr. also shared an amazing story where he pulled his very own autographed baseball card from a pack at a local card shop in Kansas City. What’s even cooler is that he had personally signed the card just three months prior before it was randomly inserted into card packs.

Evan Longoria

Sport Played: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2008 – Present

Evan Longoria is one of the most active professional baseball players in the card collecting community. There are many examples of Longoria discussing cards on social media, including when he purchased the 3rd superfractor 1 of 1 card of himself in January, 2023.

Longoria has shared additional posts on social media including when he acquired a 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout Cognac Diamond Anniversary rookie card, a Lewis Hamilton card he hit in a card break, and even boxes of wax he planned to rip!

Last year he even tweeted about using MySlabs, a sports card marketplace where buyers and sellers post their items and pay considerably less fees as compared with eBay or other higher-priced marketplaces.

Note: it appears the link to Longoria’s MySlabs page is no longer active at this time.

Phil Hughes

Sport: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2007 – 2018

Phil Hughes is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who spent a majority of his career playing for the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins. He won a single world series with the Yankees in 2009.

After retiring from baseball, Hughes started a YouTube channel called “Phil’s Pulls,” featuring card breaks and other sports card content. In an interview with Twins Daily, Hughes talks about how he started collecting as a young kid, his affinity for Bowman Chrome as a baseball card brand, and the excitement of seeing himself on a baseball card. He keeps a small personal collection of rookie cards and on-card autos while putting most of what he opens up for sale. He aims to produce videos that resonate with viewers and tries to be less stale and robotic in his delivery — similar to his style of hurling baseballs.

Dmitri Young

Sport: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 1996 – 2008

Dmitri Young is another professional athlete that collects baseball cards. Dmitri played for multiple MLB baseball teams over the course of a 13-year MLB career. He started collecting as a young kid, and steadily continued building a strong collection of rookie cards that he auctioned off for millions of dollars in 2012. It’s safe to admit Dmitri Young may have kept a few of the PSA 10 rookie cards he auctioned away had he known what they would be selling for just 10 years later — likely millions of dollars more.

Watch the full episode of Young talking about his passion for the hobby on an episode of MLB’s carded below.

Josh Donaldson

Sport: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2010 – Present

Josh Donaldson currently plays for the New York Yankees, and is a a former MLB All-Star and MVP. On this list of professional athletes that collect baseball cards, Josh Donaldson may be at the top of the list when it comes to the sheer size and scope of his collection. In an eBay promotional video produced in 2022, Donaldson boasts about owning hundreds of thousands of sports cards.

Additionally, in the video embedded below Donaldson talks about his memories of walking into card shops as a kid, and how a fan once gave him an autographed rookie card of Ron Gant, one of his favorite players growing up.

Matt Strahm

Sport: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2016 – Present

Matt Strahm is a current MLB baseball pitcher who plays for the Philadelphia Phillies. A long time baseball card collector, Strahm has a unique card collection of baseball players that have homered against him. A self-proclaimed “packrat”, Strahm loves opening packs of products versus buying or trading for individual cards.

Matt Strahm is well entrenched in collecting, starring in two baseball card shows including The Card Life, and Strahm’s Stadium Pulls. Check out a recent episode of The Card Life below.

Julio Rodriguez

Sport: MLB baseball player
Playing Years: 2022 – Present

Also featured on MLB’s Carded in the same episode as Mike Trout, Julio rodriguez was blown away by the valuation his cards were getting in the card market. The host, Greg Amsinger, asked Rodriguez whether he was collecting baseball cards himself, Rodriguez said he would be “getting into it this year”, rubbing his hands together with tempered excitement. Asked if he would buy his own cards, Rodriguez laughed and said he might, and that it would be a good place to put his money.

So what would Rodriguez target? He said he would love to pick up an Ichiro rookie card and jokingly said he would be willing to trade a card of himself for it. It’ll be exciting to see whether Julio Rodriguez dives in headfirst into the sports card market later this year!

2021 Julio Rodriguez Bowman Draft Prospect Card #BD-145
2021 Julio Rodriguez Bowman Draft Prospect Card #BD-145

Do Any NBA Basketball Players Collect Cards?

While many baseball players regularly appear in video interviews talking about the love of the sports card hobby and collecting in general, NBA basketball players are rarely as forthcoming. NBA basketball players that collect sports cards or have been speculated to include Ray Allen, Serge Ibaka, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James. Funny enough, of the names mentioned, many are collecting basketball cards of themselves.

The Benefits of Professional Athletes in the Sports Card Market

Professional athletes collecting sports cards can have several benefits, both for themselves and the sports card market in general. Here are a few ways in which their involvement can be beneficial:

  • Promotion and Exposure: When popular athletes publicly discuss their interest in sports cards, it brings attention to the hobby and increases its visibility. This can attract new collectors and generate more interest in the market overall. Pro athletes’ involvement can drive up demand for cards of themselves or their favorite players. Increased demand can translate to increased prices and market activity, benefiting all hobby participants and investors.
  • Credibility: Athletes getting involved in the sports card market can add credibility to the hobby. Their endorsement of certain cards or sets can validate their significance and also increase their value.
  • Community Engagement: Professional athletes engaging in the sports card hobby can help build a sense of community with collectors and fans. They may participate in card events, signings, or collaborations, allowing fans to interact with them and creating memorable experiences for collectors. As mentioned earlier, players like Evan Longoria regularly interact with collectors on social media all the time.


Professional athletes have a deep connection to the sports they play, and many of them are drawn to the hobby of collecting sports cards. It allows them to appreciate the history and legacy of their respective sports and relive historical moments just like the rest of us. Popular MLB baseball players like Mike Trout, Bobby Witt Jr., and Evan Longoria, along with NBA players like Ray Allen, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James help bring many benefits to the hobby, including mass exposure, credibility, and community engagement, which contribute to the growth and excitement of the hobby.

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