I recently paid $8 for a Barry Zito rookie card and it wasn’t autographed …

I must be crazy, right?  Who pays $8 for a Barry Zito rookie card, especially one that doesn’t bear his signature?

Well, when the serial number on the card matches his jersey number, sometimes collectors do funny things.

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Barry Zito used to be a big deal.  He was a big-time pitcher for the Oakland A’s in the early part of the 2000s — even winning a Cy Young Award in 2002 — and then signed a massive contract with the San Francisco Giants who play just across the San Francisco Bay (or estuary for you science types) from the A’s.  He sucked for the most part, constantly ripped on sports talk radio and even relegated to a spectator in 2010 when the Giants won their first World Series.  And then he came back in 2011 and 2012, even becoming a key contributor for the Giants down the stretch as they won their second title in three years.

Alas Zito played again in 2013 and finished his mammoth contract with the Giants by posting the second-highest ERA of his career.  He hasn’t played in 2014 and it appears that his career may in fact be over.

Zito hasn’t been relevant in the hobby in almost a decade and prices on his cards plummeted over the years.  His key rookie is still the 200o SPX set, a card that features a serial number and autograph. His second best?  Quite possibly this 2000 SP Authentic, which is limited to 1,700 copies.  Believe me, this was a big deal in 2000. I located this one — in it’s glorious PRO graded case — at a local card shop in a bargain graded card bin.  Every card priced $8 each, all of them were graded by either PSA or BGS, except for this one.  This company — which has zero traction in the hobby — graded this card at 9.8 “N-Gem,” which I’ll have to believe means Near Gem Mint.  I’m not aware of any company who uses that lingo.  Go figure. I’ll leave it in here for now, but might send it eventually to BGS for continuity purposes.

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