The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Smithville’s king of cards deals fortune in sports memorabilia

Lizzie Tomlin
Nash Heady, aged 22, has made “at least six figures” by selling rare sports memorabilia.

As tornado sirens blared through the small town of Smithville, Mississippi, the Heady family had a limited amount of time to grab their most valuable possessions before heading to the local tornado shelter.

While most would grab their cash savings, diamond rings or emergency supplies, Nash Heady grabbed his trusty fire-proof safe box from under his bed. However, this box was not full of dollar bills, but rather 35 rectangular slips of cardboard, each encased in a plastic display case.

These 35 cards may not be worth much to the average eye, but collectors like Nash know that the value of these specific baseball cards run upwards of $70,000.

His 6-foot-4 frame is hard to miss, but Nash often stands out due to his unique style. Nash is almost always spotted in a ’90s style graphic tee showcasing athletes from his card collection, often paired with a vintage snapback cap. He has rocked frosted tips multiple times in the past few years and has giant bull horns mounted on the front of his Toyota 4Runner.

As a college student majoring in finance at Freed-Hardeman University, Nash takes his card business seriously. When asked how much he has made from card trading, he responded with “at least 6 figures.”

Nash, aged 22, claimed to own around 20,000 collectible cards that are related to a variety of sports. He has been collecting since birth, inheriting the hobby itself and many cards from his father, Jason Heady.

Nash attributes much of his card-trading experience to what he has observed from his father. Receiving his first card in 1981 as a gift from his grandmother, Jason has an extensive card collection with some cards dated as early as the 1910s. Nash even noted that his father bought his wife’s engagement ring by selling part of his card collection.

“That would have been in a box of Cracker Jacks. And then this one would have been a cigar that most of the early cards came in — boxes of tobacco and cigars,” Jason said, revealing parts of his collection. “They weren’t for kids back then. I guess some dads gave them to their kids but the cards themselves weren’t marketed for kids.”

Heady markets decades of memorabilia from every sport. (Lizzie Tomlin)

Unlike his son, Jason Heady has a hard time letting go of his collectibles, and he recreationally collects his cards rather than selling them. However, Jason recognizes his son’s achievements and expects him to become more successful in the future.

“Nash is very good. He’s less attached to his stuff than I am about it. And I won’t sell. And he sells stuff he buys within a week,” Jason said. “I like to follow the ’50s and ’60s and kind of see the way the art and the graphics developed. There’s not as much money in that.”

Nash Heady’s lifelong obsession with sports contributed to his successful business model. His room is a haven for any die-hard sports fan and contains merchandise from almost every sport imaginable. Autographed cards of Allen Iverson, Peyton Manning and Larry Bird, along with fragments of jerseys worn in historical games are on display around the room.

Each wall is lined with sports memorabilia. From an autographed Tim Tebow jersey to shelves of team affiliated hats, each item has been deliberately placed. Display cases for cards, balls and helmets form a barrier between his bedroom and the outside world.

Some noteworthy pieces in Nash’s collection include a signed jersey from Magic Johnson and a Nikola Jokić autographed basketball. Additionally, his cards range anywhere from authentic Jackie Robinson autographs to recent UFC cards like Conor McGregor or Sean O’Malley.

“My first card, I think it’s a 2006 LaDainian Tomlinson autograph that I got for Christmas. I still have it on my wall,” Nash said. “I really want a Walter Johnson autograph. He played baseball in the 1910s. So he’s been dead for like 70 years, but his cards are worth a lot.”

Nash does most of his selling and trading on eBay where he has sold 615 items and received a 100% positive review rate. Nash told stories of people who he has sold cards to, including celebrities like well-known DJ and UFC card collector, Steve Aoki.

“What an amazing card. Great communication with the seller and fast delivery. Will definitely do business again. A+++,” one review said. Another simply wrote, “EBAY HALL OF FAMER. GREAT SELLER.”

Lizzie Tomlin

As a young college student from a small town, Nash’s financial success stands out against others his age. In 2022, when Tom Brady announced his first attempt at retirement from the NFL, Nash sold his Brady card for $20,000 alone. Brady announced his return to the NFL the very next day.

“My net sales just last year were $55,000. That’s just from the summer on. So that’s like seven or eight months. But total net sales have definitely cleared six figures total profit,” Nash said. “But it’s also it’s card by card, like some cards I bought when I was like 14. And then I’ve held on to them until now. Like I sold a Brady when he retired that I paid $1,500 bucks for then sold for 20 grand.”

Though online trading is the most accessible way to buy and sell cards today, the real gems are often found in unconventional places. Nash and Jason both agreed that the best cards are found by people who just do not know what they have.

“I think the cooler cards that we found are from random people, like someone that goes to church with us, and they’re like, oh, we have a box. I get a lot of good stuff like that,” Nash said. “I remember the principal at my school had a box in his attic. We bought the whole collection at one price and looked through it later to find some really good stuff.”

Nash said he has a special talent and an eye for valuable collectibles.

“I think I’m better at it than most people because I’m not just in it to make money. I know what to look for because I can see it from both points of view: how to make money and how to respectfully collect,” Nash said. “If it’s something that you know that you’re going to collect and keep for a long time, that stuff will sell better than short term stuff that’s just based on who might be good that year.”

Most of Nash’s collection is related to historical, hall of fame athletes. However, Nash still holds on to Mississippi State University athletic collectibles that are close to his heart from his time as a student before transferring to Freed-Hardeman. From a Jeffery Simmons autographed helmet to an array of MSU jerseys, Nash does not leave any sport untouched. His collection even includes cards from his high school years when he played baseball at Smithville High School, with some cards dating back to when he was a toddler.

Nash regularly attends card shows where he continues his trading in-person and has worked at a baseball card shop in Nashville, Tennessee. His expertise is respected in the community, and local collectors now know him by name.

2.5 inches by 3.5 inches of old, battered cardboard is all Nash needed to achieve financial success. Now, as his coffee table is filled with packaged baseball cards waiting to be shipped to purchasing collectors, the cycle continues.

“I’ve got boxes and boxes under the bed. They’re not worth counting,” Nash said. “But some of them are worth only a dollar or two. Some of those are my favorites because it’s the love of the game, not the money, that drives me.”

About the Contributor
Lizzie Tomlin
Lizzie Tomlin, Staff Writer
Lizzie Tomlin is a senior political science major. Lizzie is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
Leave a Comment
Donate to The Reflector

Your donation will support the student journalists of Mississippi State University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Reflector

Comments (0)

All The Reflector Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *