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Q&A with REA: Adam Gray (TheReal27Guy)

PJ Kinsella

PJ Kinsella in Q&A With REA
Dec 22 — 4 mins read

Adam Gray, known across the hobby as TheReal27Guy, has been an avid collector for more than thirty years. He has amassed a strong following with his videos about some of the industry’s key cards and collectibles, and he recently worked with REA to help tell the fascinating story of the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card, which sold for $7.2 million in December 2023. In this Q&A with REA, Adam talks about his journey as a collector and content creator, how he got started and some of the exciting areas within the hobby that he’s keeping a close eye on.

What first got you interested in the hobby and can you tell us what the first card or set of cards you received was? 

I've been a collector as long as I can remember. I literally have memories of taking my 1986 and 1987 Topps baseball cards to pre-school and trading with the kids. But my first set was 1990 Hoops basketball as a first grader. Larry Bird was the last card I needed, and I ended up trading a Michael Jordan card for it. 33 years later and I'm still a collector, and one of the few who never took a break. It's just part of who I am. 

What are some of the most exciting areas of the hobby that you're seeing that collectors should be keeping a close eye on? 

I love this question. Signed iconic vintage cards of players who've long since passed away is just incredible right now. The community around that vertical is unreal. And honestly it makes a lot of sense. That stuff is so rare. And you think of everything that those cards had to go through to get where they are NOW and it is just super appealing. I wish I owned more of those cards. I only have two cards that qualify including a 1971 Topps #55 Pete Maravich - only ten of those have been graded compared to nearly 3,000 unsigned examples. Mine is a PSA 6 with a population of two and none higher. The auto is fantastic! 

For someone who is just starting out as a collector, what would be your advice to begin their collection? 

Don't be in a hurry to buy. Be in a hurry to learn. You can research any topic for hours and hours and that's often as fun as anything in the hobby. My experience tells me that those who take their time and focus not on what others think is cool, but on what they think is cool, will find the most joy. Lastly, I always tell people that buying a card should make sense with your head and your heart. Don't buy things that only fit one of those.

You're a big basketball card collector. What would be your "Starting 5" of all-time most important hardwood cards (this could just be your 5 favorites or what you deem to be the most valuable or important)? 

Most important is a really interesting way to think about this. The 1986 Fleer #57 Michael Jordan rookie is number one on any list. It has far and away the highest market cap of any basketball card and is the most iconic. It also ushered in what I still think of as the modern era of basketball cards. Two through five is so much trickier. Number two I'll go with the 1980 Topps Bird/Magic/Erving since they ushered the NBA into the Michael Jordan era. Number three is the Kobe 1996 Chrome and Chrome Refractor. That ushered the era of Chrome and then later Prizm into the hobby, and frankly that's still where we are today. Number four is probably the Michael Jordan 1997 Upper Deck Game Jersey Auto, which was a key part of the first jersey card set and was his first auto/jersey card. To me, that's a personal grail and probably the best basketball card ever made, although the LeBron Exquisite gets credit for being the first rookie patch autograph (RPA), which would be my number five. The LeBron Exquisite RPA was the first ultra high-end, exceptionally rare rookie card that is something closer to art than traditional cardboard.    

You worked with REA to create content about the 1914 Baltimore News Babe Ruth rookie card that ultimately sold for $7.2 million. What was it like working with REA and with a card of such historical magnitude?

REA's reputation in the industry is exemplary and there are a lot of reasons why. The quality of the people they employ as well as their list of consignors and buyers is incredible. And I don't know anyone who doesn't love getting an REA catalog in the mail. Working on educating the hobby community on the Ruth card's history was just a treat for me. There isn't another card that is as rare and carries as much hobby lore. When we think about cards with only ten in existence, most of our minds, as collectors, go immediately to the late 90's through today. But to think that the first Babe Ruth has such a low pop is an incredible thing.

You can follow Adam on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.