Sunday, July 19, 2009

A look back at Baseball Cards

I remember when I first got into collecting baseball cards as a kid. It was 1989 and wax packs and boxes littered the hobby shop walls. At this time the main cards to buy was products like Score, Donruss and Topps.
Then a company called Upper Deck came along and made premium baseball cards. I remember staring at the packs and wondering if I can ever afford packs of Upper Deck which I believe were $2.00 at the time. This compared to the other dollar or cent packs of baseball cards were obviously more enticing to a young collector.
My friends were all into it and raving about some player named Ken Griffey Jr and Frank Thomas. I as a passionate collector still bought the old single cards of Nolan Ryan, Ryne Sandberg and many other old time players. I still bought these well into the mid 1990's.
Fast forward to the 2000's and I'm still an avid baseball card collector. But something has changed, the hobby has changed. No longer were cards selling for one to five dollars. Cards began to sell for ten to hundreds of dollars. Cards with jerseys, bats, gloves and autographs were everywhere.
Then came the collectors that began trying to beat the system.
Pack searching through boxes pulling all the "money" cards and leaving junk for the honest collectors. Collectors opening packs and resealing them with unwanted common cards. Dealers trimming and coloring borders of vintage baseball cards. Looking at all the mayhem I simply stopped buying waxes.
At this time Upper Deck and
Topps began making ultra high end cards. Ultimate, Exquisite and other products which guaranteed autographed and game used cards in each pack. The catch? Outrageous price tags. You can spend $100 to $700 on one pack of cards which had three cards in it. And get back about 25% value of cards. Of course there were also the money cards that are next to impossible to pull. Taking a look at the price tag of baseball cards I decided to put my money to better use. Paying my bills.
I remember in the early 1980's collectors were thrilled when they pulled a Carlton Fisk. Today when somebody pulls a Carlton Fisk they wonder how much money they can make by putting it on
Whatever happened to that baseball card shop I used to go to you ask? They're out of business. Along with at least five others in my area.
So, what do I collect? I've given up on wax packs due to the outrageous odds and the
pack searchers. I've given up on the boxes since putting food on the table is more important. Now I'm just a wandering collector buying single cards that catches my eye. And they have to be graded so I won't be scammed by a untrustworthy dealer.

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