89 thoughts on “The rise and fall of baseball cards

  1. I still collect big time. I just stay away from the new stuff and collect vintage. Its my passion to collect cards. Can't stay away from it.

  2. To whomever did this – you should make this into a full feature documentary. The story is something so many can relate to and its interesting as well. If youre interested in doing it – write back. I would consider funding your project.

  3. Baseball cards will never die only the hobby of collecting them might. But I honestly doubt topps is going to stop making cards any time in the future.

  4. If you like older football cards, come check out our Facebook group called; Vintage Football Cards. It's a Buy / Sell / Trade / and Auctions group, specifically for Vintage Football cards and memorabilia (anything from 1989 and earlier). https://www.facebook.com/groups/vintagefootball/

  5. these guys make millions of dollars for playing a child's game for a few months out of the year…and they have a problem smiling? i can't imagine how terrible they would feel had they have to get a normal job like regular people

  6. The collectors and investors totally ruined the joy of the hobby for ordinary kids – for whom the cards were intended. All anyone cares about is "how much is it worth?" or "how much can I GET for it." Screw all you collectors who make everything about the value. Just look at the dickhead 's comment right below mine who cares only whether or not there is a MARKET for the cards. Fuck you pal. What about the sheer LOVE of the game and its history. You greedy bastards will never understand that, will you? And that is your loss.

  7. And why are these shops going out of business? Why don't more people collect? Because it's TOO $%#@ expensive. These bastards destroyed it with greed and economics.

  8. Your getting you own baseball card and you mad about being up early!? Getting your own baseball card, is like getting your own stamp or having a navy ship named after you. I would have the biggest dumbest smile on my face if that was me.

  9. Upper Deck was the cause for both the huge boom, and the subsequent implosion, of the hobby.

    I was buying packs from the ice cream man or on weekly visits to Longs Drug store as far back as 1978 (I was 8). Interest in cards over the years came and went, but when Upper Deck baseball hit the scene in 1989, my friend and I would follow the 7/11 trucks around town as they made their deliveries, and would buy the boxes whole. A new kind of craze was forming. This new style and quality of card may not have been enough to turn the industry on it's ear, but the synergistic power of Ken Griffey Jr. being the mythic rookie that he was made the product white-hot.

    Skip ahead a couple years and some rookie classes that had no one holding a candle to The Kid, and companies started manufacturing ways to get people to buy their product. It started with errors cards, the companies 'unknowingly' releasing mistakes in their product only to be corrected in later print runs. This was unsavory though because it meant sales were generated off of supposed poor quality control. So, up next…the insert card!

    By 1993, inserts were found in most all releases. Upper Deck had been doing super-premium inserts since '91 with autographs of notable players (Brett Hull, Jerry West, etc.), but they were so few and far between over the immense print runs it was almost silly to buy their product looking for those hits. More common inserts showed up at a rate of a few to a box to one every second or third box. The chase was on, and without the Internet yet, it meant going to local shops and shows were the only way to get what you wanted. Of course, what had been 40-50 cent packs all through the 80's had now jumped up to $1-$3 a pack as standard by the mid-90's. A hunger was created, and it was becoming less of a hobby and more like legalized gambling.

    The late 90's/early 2000's saw everyone and their bubble gum-chewing momma in the fray. Certain premium packs were over $10, the Internet allowed you to get whatever you wanted, grading of cards came into vogue and the product from only ten years ago sat either broken and untouched in 5,000 count boxes, or even worse, unable to sell below original cost unopened in cases. This should have been a warning sign, and to some, it was.

    In 2006, we saw ultra-premium product, and several hundred dollars would hit the table for one pack to hit a Crosby or LeBron rookie. As I had been in the thick of it before 1989, I could see this would be the watermark year that would never be revived or maintained. This was about the time shops started closing, and local shows faltered.

    Currently at age 46, I can say I was at the tail-end of those great years when Topps made cards you bought because you loved them and not for potential value. Those that came before me and loved the hobby have mostly gone for good…sickened by the profit-driven craze that killed their passion. Those that came after me have mostly left as well. Those that have stuck around do it in large part because of the social ties they have made in the card collecting community, and I tend to believe if they strip away the pretense would have to agree that the cards come second to their friendships made through the hobby.

    Upper Deck could not have seen what they were doing from the start as having ruined the hobby within a couple decades. Then again, if their founders stop to consider how entering the arena to be the best and most expensive would mean having to keep pushing that envelope year after year, they probably would have seen how they were going to strip mine the once simple and pure love for boys who collected cards before the Mariners picked The Kid as #1 overall back in 1987.

  10. Sadly the death of an iconic pastime, it's the same in the UK regarding soccer cards. Greedy dealers and the internet have done their damage.

  11. Yep Collecting sports cards for an investment and comics in the late 80s and 90s I thought wow when im in my 30s and 40s these will be worth a ton. I still have all my comics and sports cards and wow what a terrible investment. I should have just bought gold but what are you gonna do. Shinders was just down the block from my house as a kid and it was awesome.

  12. Baseball cards died because sports cards died in general, including basketball and hockey. I used to have a bunch of NBA and NHL ones in the 90s but they got played out into my teens. We also had WWE, WCW, Marvel, Pokemon, DBZ, and other comic/tv related cards that were popular. They're just nostalgic stuff now; most kids would rather spend money on video games.

  13. It should say the rise, fall and rise again of baseball cards. Yeah, the cards now are premium and expensive, but business is booming.

  14. It was a combination of the ridiculous prices that card makers started charging for new packs, the flood of different kinds, and the flood of fakes from china for the vintage ones.

  15. Topps over-producing in the late 80's and all through the 90's is what caused the down-fall.  Yet, they are the ones that have the monopoly since 2010.

  16. My 6 and 3 year old just started collecting. We are using YouTube to film us opening up packs and boxes of cards. They love the views and comments as much as the cards. The Hobby has changed a lot since the 80s.

  17. Baseballs is getting higher in popularity because of inserts they want to open packs not just the card

  18. I collect vintage and insert cards only. mostly auto, jersey, and relic cards. usually graded cards like PSA or BGS

  19. Well if a depression hits baseball cards won't be produced nearly at all so their worth is going to go way up and everyone will be scrambling to get them and then they will be revived and big again

  20. Beckett was to baseball cards as blue book is to cars. it was the book that values cards and a big influencer in card precieved value. 10 year old me thought I had cards worth something yet nobody ever paid what beckett said they are worth. they were practically worthless. 1950 older are worth something however.

  21. Because of certain downturns in the economy…Obama. Also, stop trying to buy everything online. Get off your lazy butts and go to the store.

  22. So sad. I wish it was popular again and got more people wanting to collect. A full on doc about this would be amazing.

  23. I collected heavy in the early 90s then supply and demand took over the market was flooded with multiple sets and subsets and it all became virtually worthless so sad

  24. This should be the rise and fall of the baseball card store! Cards are still very strong. It's called ebay now. Times change. All commerce is going online now!

  25. This video is overly simplistic. Ironically enough, in Minneapolis, there have been about one or two new card shops opening every 6 months in the past 2+ years. I don't know how or why brick and mortar stores are opening. But they are. I still like to peruse physical locations in addition to online shopping. There is something to be said about visiting a shop to see what is available.

  26. I also would like to mention that although sports cards have been impacted significantly so have countless other hobby industries: scrapbooking, comic book collecting, antiquing, stamp collecting, coin collecting, etc. Now more than ever there is an overabundance of supply versus demand. Most people have saved everything they think is even remotely 'collectible'. As the years roll by, there is such an accumulation of you name it that it would not be humanly possible to embrace everything that is out there. I believe all of these industries will settle into what they are and remain there. They will 'survive' but none of them are going to reach a zenith of popularity nationwide as what was once seen at various times in the past.

  27. Inserts killed the modern cards. Vintage cards still are going very strong and if you don't thinks so find the most valuable insert you can find an then compared the price to a Honus Wagner tobacco card or a 1952 Mickey Mantle….

  28. I still collect and love the 70's-90's cards. I grew up playing flipping contests in grade school. I have about 900,000 cards Topps, Upper deck, Fleer, Opee-chee, Donruss, Pacific, Bowman, Score, etc. Its a great hobby.

  29. The overall climate of sports cards today is that of gambling. Most people opening packs don't care about the cards at all, unless they hit something worth $$$. Nobody finishes base sets, and there are far too many releases that just tank after something else comes out. The companies are just milking all of these suckers for as much as they can, while they still can.

  30. Just because card shops are closing doesn't mean card collecting is dead. Far from it. Sports memorabilia is recession proof. There are millions of hardcore collectors out there and always will be. When the stock market tanks people look for something else like antiques, fine art, and sports memorabilia. When the stock market is booming collectors still buy collectibles because they like it, they want to diversify, or both. The key is to buy good cards graded high. Hall of famers or future hall of famers. It's better to save up and buy really nice cards, rather than buy tons of mediocre ones. Nobody has a crystal ball, but this hobby has been around a long time, and there is no shortage of sports fans.

  31. When I started you used to get 15 cards a pack for 50 cents. And rookie cards were the only highly sought cards. Now you gotta spend a handful of dollars just for 5 cards a pack. Mass production of inserts and subsets ruined the hobby. And it used to be fun trading cards with your buddy back then. A shame.

  32. Card companies are getting too damn greedy, almost every box is over 100 bucks and online buy isn't always better when blowout, DA and Steel City overcharging for boxes.. plus, cards used to be for kids and rising costs have killed off kids buying.. you also think, a new game is 60 bucks, a box of baseball cards is 80-100.. what do you think the kid is gonna do? Buy that game.. let's also not forget with these rising costs and the invention of card games, kids have also swayed to card games as well.. sports cards are doomed and topps, upper deck and panini have only themselves to blame for this..

  33. I have 3 card shops within an hour of each other and they seem to be doing well. What I've been seeing is a resurgence with autos and relics.

  34. when Topps started selling full sets packs became needed. A six hundred cards sets would take hundreds of packs to fill. Card shows help but to many different manufacturers and sets made it to hard to keep up.

  35. Modern cards are only expensive because grown men are buying them up, in the hopes that they can make money off of them. But they won't really be valuable for at least another 20 years.

  36. Modern cards are too common. Card companies are saturating the market. There will be another bubble soon.

  37. brick and mortars cannot compete with online stores, that is reason shops are shutting down. not due to a decrease in collectors.

  38. the magic is gone with the new stuff. give me gum and wax pack. too much over the top designs. baseball is a timeless game. the cards should be timeless as well. probably why the topps heritage did well. it was simple design.

  39. What a misleading story. One look at recent Ebay sales shows that current stars like Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Ronald Acuna etc… are selling for thousands and thousands of dollars. Just b/c the card biz is not what it was in the 80s and early 90s does not mean it's anywhere close to being dead.

  40. All the card companies got greedy and let the presses run in the late 80s. It killed the collector base. I still have those cards and unopened boxes.

  41. It's like comic books, you need to hunt selective (learn to snipe bid on eBay) Just go after the KEY'S, instead of entire runs/sets, or else you'll quickly run out of room!
    With baseball cards stick to 1950's to 1980's, everything before is too expensive, everything after is worthless

  42. Almost four years later, WaPo should think about revisiting this story with the likes of Ohtani, Acuna and Soto rookie cards often approaching or going over six figures this past year. Cards are BACK!

  43. Card collecting is BOOMING now. You can find HUNDREDS of online group breakers which has taken place of old card shops.

  44. The craze started around Pete Rose in the early 80s. He was THE card to get. Along with George Brett and Nolan Ryan. Then 84 Donruss hit with Mattingly's rookie. In our small town we had 4 baseball card shops plus several people dealing out of their houses. Even the gas stations had dedicated sections just for cards. Then the 90s hit and the card companies flooded the market. Now the card companies create fake rarity by printing one of cards.
    Stick to the old cards.

  45. This is sad. I can remember going to the local card shops with my dad looking at all the different types of cards and memorabilia. Sport card collecting was something my dad and I enjoyed, it also helped me too stay out of trouble.

  46. LOL This is life ….ever hear the old saying " what's old is new again" Cards will come back …and die….and come back again!

  47. I am happy to say that baseball cards are making a comeback! prices are going up and as long as topps keep their trademark deal with mlb it will keep going up!

  48. I used to drive 30 miles a weekend goin to card shops and shows (in the 90's before the internet) …..it was fun to track down specific cards and sets….. then Ebay happened. cards or sets I paid 20-30 bux for all of a sudden were available for 5.00 to 10.00 bux cause 100 people were tryin to sell them on Ebay lower than the next guy. I got discouraged and sold my collection for peanuts in 2016 a shame….the guy that bought them (from Orlando I think) got all that sweat, gas and time cheap…lol I bought a fence for my yard so i can point to something and say- I paid for that with my card collection hahaha

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