“I have a rather large collection of baseball cards, what do you think they are worth?” This is a common question I get from potential sellers on my ebay store, The NK Marketing Store. My answer, uttered with a true sadness as a baseball card enthusiast, is not much. Baseball card values have plummeted over the past decade and continue to decline. As recent as two years ago, I attended a card show in Warwick. Slow, stagnant, disappointing were the common sentiments by the card and memorabilia merchants at this particular show. I have been doing some research on websites such as ebay and sports memorabilia type sites and the results are the same – baseball cards once worth dollars are now worth cents.
Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, I collected baseball cards whenever I could. I loved getting them in my stocking at Christmas time. When I had a few bucks from my allowance, I would go down into Wickford and Earnshaw’s Drug Store and purchase a pack or two. Packs included about 15 cards and a stick of gum. If I was lucky, I would get one of the Boston Red Sox players. Regardless, I would read each player’s profile, their stats, where they were from, where they went to college, essentially read up on their minor league and professional career. It was interesting and fun facts that I used when talking baseball with friends and my uncle Johnny. I still love stats and talking baseball with whoever will listen. That all started because I collected and read each baseball card – front and back.
Like the daily newspaper, baseball cards have succumbed to the almighty and ever present world wide web. If you would like to know the stats of a certain player, in any era, on any team, regardless of his obscurity or number of years he has played, you are in luck. The internet will tell you whatever you want to know. Here is an example. John Farrell played for the Indians, Angels, and Tigers. He was a pitcher who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 1984 draft. He grew up in New Jersey and attended Oklahoma State University. In fact, as I was researching information for this article, I looked up John Farrell and got these results in a matter of seconds. Instant gratification and without taking a step out of my office. This is why cards have run out of value. The information is readily available online for free, hence, the need to purchase this information via a small pack of cardboard cut-outs with a piece of gum is greatly reduced or even extinguished.
So, getting back to the original question, “What is my card collection worth?” I have this to offer. Baseball cards mean something different to everyone – a collector, a fan, a buyer, a sports memorabilia company. I recently took in a large collection of cards that I will be selling in my ebay store. I have already let the seller (the original owner of the cards I’m selling) know that the monetary returns on his collection will not be much. But, I feel that the real value is the memories of the players from your childhood. Looking over this collection of cards from the 1970’s and 1980’s, remembering the players and recalling how I idolized some of them, is to me, priceless. I find myself turning over these cards, as I did when I was a young baseball fan, and reading the stats top to bottom. This player once played in Pawtucket or in New Britain, CT or in Fort Myers, FL or Waterloo or Beaumont or Reno. This player was from NH or Maine or went to Boston College. Reading the statistics of a future Hall of Famer who was in the beginning of his career at the plate or on the mound. The pure randomness of opening a pack and the anticipation of which players I am to learn about makes me 100% sure that baseball is alive and well in my heart.
So, how much are your baseball cards worth? In terms of money, most baseball cards are worth pennies on the dollar. Some are indeed quite valuable, based on their condition. Hall of Famers generally get a nice return back, especially MVP years or rookie cards. There are a ton of great websites that will price out your cards or card sets for you. To the baseball purist, they are priceless treasures of an era before the internet, Sportscenter, sports radio. An era where information you can easily find on the internet was not so readily available and you had to work for it. An era when you read the stats and scores in the newspaper the next morning, long after the game had ended. For me, baseball cards and that delicious stick of gum helped grow my love of baseball to last a lifetime.