I Watched Chase Utley And Miles Teller Draft $25,000 Of Rare Baseball Cards – Here’s My Report

“Was he your guy?”

That is the question that Miles Teller, the actor, poses to Chase Utley, World Series-winning second baseman, about Cal Ripken Jr.

Utley mentions that his prized possession as a kid was a Cal Ripken Jr. rookie card.

“Yeah, I kind of looked up to him,” Utley responds softly.

On a Friday night before the MLB All-Star Game in downtown Los Angeles, Teller and Utley are nerding out to an intimate, invite-only audience about their baseball card collections.

Teller – a die-hard Phillies fan by blood – is wearing a vintage ’90s Phillies caricature shirt with John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra, and Darren Daulton. They dap it up with fist-pounds on the stage when they meet. As any Phillies fan would, he acknowledges Utley’s iconic “world f*cking champions!” speech at Citizen’s Bank Park in 2008.

Miles Teller and Chase Utley on collecting baseball cards

Then Teller tells the room how he got into baseball card collecting as a kid – the same way an entire generation of millennials barrelling towards middle age got into trading cards back in the day. They both reminisce on just how special those Ken Griffey Jr. cards were in the early ’90s, of which Utley said he had “about 10” in his collection.

“My grandma would say every year, ‘You can either get fifty bucks for Christmas or I could just get you the Upper Deck Complete Series,'” Teller explains. “So every year, I got the Complete Series. I started in 1993. And then, when playing baseball, if I had a good game, my dad would stop at the trading card store and I’d get to pick something out.”

Teller continues. “I didn’t care how much money I had. I was, like, 10 years old. I only cared that I had a Ken Griffey Jr. card that I could sell….”

via eBay Vault

Spending $25,000 on baseball cards for the eBay Vault

The event is dubbed Vault Stars. It’s eBay’s “first-ever live baseball card draft.” Before things get started, attendees admire cards on display, like a 1958 Topps Mickey Mantle card, graded PSA 8.

Utley is here to advise the actor on how to spend $25,000 on rare baseball cards. Once bought, Teller will stash the cards in the eBay Vault – a secure, 31-thousand-square-foot facility built for collectors to stockpile their treasured wax.

The eBay Vault is climate-controlled, insured, and monitored 24/7 by trading card specialists. Think of it like a safe deposit box for cards. Or perhaps, trading card Ft. Knox?

If you’re a card collector, you’re qualified if you buy any graded card for $500 or more on eBay and send it to the eBay Vault. You’re also more than welcome to withdraw or add to your collection – it is yours, after all. If buying and selling is your hustle, you don’t even have to ever physically touch the card or have it shipped to your house. You can just exchange it for whatever market value you get via eBay all while it remains safe and secure in the eBay Vault.

“Who are some of your favorites? Who have you modeled your game after?”, Teller asks Utley at one point in the evening. After selecting a 2011 Mike Trout rookie card, time ticks down on a draft clock.

“I think you should get a real legend,” Utley instructs, patiently. “I grew up watching guys in the ’80s and ’90s. I think you should go before that… Mickey Mantle. Willie Mays…”

Teller selects Mays, the crowd cheers.

Together, Teller and Utley picked five rare rookie baseball cards, $23,813.95. The selections were a mix of current MLB stars and beloved baseball icons, including:

Chase Utley, Philadelphia Sports Legend

They say don’t meet your heroes.

But.. whatever.

As a credentialed sports media member, I know it’s my professional prerogative to keep my cool and be objective when it’s my time to interview Chase Utley.

Act like you’ve been there before, no autographs in the locker room, etc etc.

I’m usually pretty cool with keeping cool.

But, deep down inside, I feel like Mac from Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I’m holding a beer from the open bar. Lagunitas IPA, in the bottle. It’s a Friday night – give me a break.

I shake Chase Utley’s hand and he says “You like IPAs, huh?”

That’s one hell of a first impression to make to a Philadelphia legend who helped define a very special sports era for you.

Yes, Chase. I like IPAs.

I can’t remember if he said he liked IPAs? It doesn’t matter.

As a Pennsylvanian who identifies with that side of the state way more than Yinzerland, I’ve loved Philadelphia sports all my life. Probably from a very formative early childhood trip to The Vet with my dad when we went to Philly to visit my grandparents? I don’t know. You just grow up with it in your blood, like calling deli meat and cheese between an oblong roll a hoagie.

Like the way we lionized Dr. J. and Darryl Dawkins and Joe Frazier and Mike Schmidt and the Broadstreet Bullies around the kitchen table. The way my late grandfather and dad would talk about Connie Mack Stadium as a kid. Seeing concerts at the Spectrum, thinking about how one of my dad’s favorite anecdotes on the way there is how he played in a band at the arena’s opening ceremony.

In those torturous years before the Eagles won a Super Bowl, it’s one of the reasons Silver Linings Playbook struck such a chord – it just sort of got us.

Now I’m fangirling about meeting Chase Utley as an adult.

Except I don’t care.

We’re at an event celebrating baseball cards. And, really, what are baseball cards other than the ultimate capitalist manifestation of sports fandom as a whole?

At it’s core, they’re scarcity momentos and talismans of professional athlete hero worship, designed for fans to capture, collect, and monetize a moment of time.

The sheer volume of trading cards exchanging hands via digital marketplaces is the actualization of this. eBay, for example, says a trading card is sold on its platform every second.

Fundamentally, the entire hobby of sports cards and memorabilia needs dorks like me to put professional athletes like Utley on the highest of pedestals. Without unrelenting fandom and shared history, the whole implied value of the market collapses and the physical token itself is pretty meaningless.

But back to the interview…

What am I going to do, ask him about the Dodgers? Sure, I live in LA now. But, come on! He’s a Philly guy, forever enshrined in the cultural sport’s imagination of the Delaware Valley. He still holds an MLB record for most stolen bases in a single season without being caught, from the 2009 season. There’s probably an uncomfortably large number of Philadelphians who don’t even realize he ended his career in Los Angeles, where he grew up.

For years, he was as ubiquitous as Wawa Iced Tea and Tastekake. Heck, they’re still doing fan segments on KYW Newsradio about the guy in 2022. That’s how beloved Chase Utley is to this day, to pretty everyone except Mets fans.

Those were damn good years. Great years. Years I’ll forever cherish.

That squad was the squad. I’ll always remember being glued to every second of the 2008 World Series on a tiny TV in State College, celebrating with thousands of other Penn Staters that a Philadelphia sports curse was finally lifted. That feeling of “we did it!” was a professional sports first for me, back then, at age 22.

Then watching the parade a couple of days later, where Utley was once again the man – to take a line from Harry Kalas, two years earlier. Same with the trip back in 2009 and the 2010 season, when the late, great Roy Halladay joined the band.

As a Philly sports fan of a certain age, I’m forever grateful for those moments. Utley defined those moments.

In this moment, I’m Mac.

I’m not a writer, I’m not a journalist. I’m not a lousy sports blogger thinking about how to get a soundbite that can be wordsmithed for headlines and SEO and pageviews.

I’m just Mac, ever so close to asking Chase Utley for a catch.

Chase Utley – My Interview

BroBible: So let’s start with eBay Vault. Tell us about it the eBay Vault and why it’s so great for sports card enthusiasts… 

Chase Utley: Honestly, it’s great for everyone because it simplifies the whole process. So I use an example of myself who grew up collecting cards, and today I have no idea where these cards are. Now, if I grew up like my kids are growing up with eBay Vault, they can send their cards to the vault, they know exactly where they are, they know exactly what they’re worth. They have the ability to sell them, trade them, do whatever they need to do, essentially instantaneously. Which is amazing.

So, I think eBay Vault is here to stay and that’s it. I can’t wait to watch it grow.

My dad had stories about his baseball card collection as a kid. He got a couple of them signed by players on the Phillies. He grows up, he moves away from home, and sort of forgets about it. Time goes by and it disappears into the ether forever… No one knows what happened to it.

Gone. I think a lot of people have that same problem, but this eBay Vault alleviates all problems.

What were some of your favorite baseball cards back in the day?

So Ken Griffey Jr., Upper deck.

Cal Ripken?

So yeah, I had Ken Griffey Jr., I had probably 10 of them correct. ‘Cause at the time, that was the card to have. But then, I acquired a Cal Ripken Jr. Rookie – I believe it was a 1982 Topps.

Oh my gosh.

He was on it with a couple of other guys. That was probably my most prized possession, the most valuable at the time. There’s so many late ’80s cards, like a Barry Bonds. There are so many amazing players. All these guys, I would sit in my room for hours looking through the Beckett trying to find out how much these things are worth. Which nowadays, you don’t have to do that.

Yeah. You don’t.

You can go to eBay Vault, take a picture of the card, type in the name, and instantly you have a value right there, which is pretty amazing.

How sick is it to hang with a fellow Phillies fan like Miles Teller on All-Star Weekend?

Yeah, it’s interesting… obviously, I’m a fan of Miles.

Sure.

I watched him on the television screen for a number of years. As are my two boys that are sitting at home – they’re jealous that they’re not here.

Yeah, listen, Philadelphia fans are some of the best fans, if not the best fans in the entire world.

A million percent.

Yes. So the fact that we won a World Series there, we brought a championship to Philadelphia. I love going back to the city because of how much energy it has, the passion that the fans have, and I truly miss it.

Look, LA’s not a bad baseball town though, and you’ve obviously worked for the Dodgers.

Right. So I grew up here in Los Angeles, so this is where it all started for me, but Philadelphia gave me my first opportunity at playing Big League Baseball.

So to that note, there was a Sports illustrated column a couple of weeks ago that pinned you for a coaching gig someday. What’s your appetite for such a thing? You did the broadcast thing a little bit, you’ve worked with the Dodgers…  Do you wanna grow? Is that the next step?

Well, I think we all wanna grow. I had such an amazing, fun career. Looking back on it, it happened really quickly – now that I have the ability to look back on it.

As far as coaching is concerned, or managing or anything like that, it’s not on my… It’s not something that I’m looking to jump into right now. I have two young boys at home that I wanna watch grow up and be around. They might not want me around all the time, but they deserve for me to be around.

At some point, someday, maybe there is an opportunity to do something, I don’t know, that’s ways away, so we’ll see.

Another question to that note, how stoked will you be when the Phillies retire your number?

(laughs) I don’t know if they have the ability to. I don’t know. I think they have some rules in place…

Bro, you deserve it. 

With retiring numbers… All I can say is it would be a dream come true if that were to happen.

Very last question. All those iconic It’s Always Sunny Chase Utley moments… If you could just speak to that for a second, because I feel like they’ve transcended baseball in a way. 

So the two comments I hear the most are Harry Kalas’ comments, “Chase Utley, you are the man” and “do you wanna play catch”.

“Do you wanna play catch?” Yep.

Those are the two things I hear the most, which is pretty amazing. I had a blast with Ryan Howard doing that with those guys, Rob and Charlie.

Obviously awesome guys, friends of mine, golfing buddies, and they kept it light, kept it fun. We – Ryan Howard and I – were extremely nervous going into it, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but they made it so fun and so relaxing.

You were part of the Always Sunny canon after the World Series and you weren’t even on screen. 

I know. The whole thing is surreal and pretty amazing. Kudos to Rob and Charlie for having a pretty amazing show. It was the longest comedy sitcom in the history of television?

Yeah.

Amazing.