Monday, October 31, 2011

Rude awakening #879

At least several times a year, an enterprising young journalist and Generation X product who may have been a baseball card collector in his childhood and adolescent years becomes curious about the value of his collection and sets out on a journey.  Through visits to the usual suspects (card shops, Craigslist, eBay, etc.), he inevitably discovers that cards from that era are generally worthless upon committing his adventure to print. 

Ultimately, the story ends with the writer deciding the memories are worth more than any monetary gain he might receive from his collection. 

And so goes another one of those stories............

A collection of memories

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Babe Ruth's First Baseball Card!

With only a dozen of these known to exist, I can only guess that the reason this card hasn't made it to the level of the Honus Wagner in terms of value (or even surpassed it) is because the story (or combination of various urban legends) behind it isn't quite as interesting.  I've always wanted to visit Baltimore.  Now I have another reason.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Living an alternative (baseball card buying) lifestyle, Part I -- Becoming a social butterfly

Card buying and collecting has been revolutionized over the past 20 years.  While the glut of product has made set building and pursuit of hits for relic and auto collectors of a particular player or team both expensive and difficult via traditional methods, the arrival of eBay changed the hobby forever. 

If there's one thing we have learned as collectors and hobbyists whether buying or selling on eBay, however, it is that change is inevitable.  While eBay still claims to be for the little guy, most Power Sellers and other experts will quickly point out that the master plan of CEO John Donahoe has been to rebuild eBay into Amazon.  Seller fees continue to gradually increase, leading to a more costly presence for smaller Store owners, to the point where inventory of available cards to fit your collection is dwindling despite eBay's still very formidable marketing muscle. 

Online sports card buying is here to stay, and the increasing dissatisfaction with eBay has opened the door for multiple new sites and ways to buy and/or sell cards.  In the first of a multi-part series on this blog, we'll give you the hook up to a few of them.

***DISCLAIMER*** The writer of this blog has not bought and/or sold cards on all of the sites listed, and is in no way endorsing them, their fee structure, feedback system, or anything else regarding their site.  I welcome any and all comments both pro and con on this blog so we can get a better idea which ones to patronize and which ones to avoid.  As always, the individual buyer or seller is as responsible for how the experience goes on these sites as the customer support of the site itself. 

Social networks have begun to have a strong Group presence among card buyers and sellers.  We'll start this series by giving you several Facebook-based Groups and Pages devoted to buying, selling, and trading.  You might find a great buy while stalking your long lost ex! :-) 

  • Baseball Card buying, trading, and selling - A very active group (currently 147 members and growing) with some really good higher end relics and autos to be found.  I have done some trading here and had very pleasant experiences thus far.  Like most Facebook Groups and social networking itself, there is some bickering and pettyness among certain members, but overall a great place for player and team collectors. 
  • Yardsellr - Founded by former eBay execs, Yardsellr was designed to integrate the "yard sale" experience into social networking.  You can easily blast your inventory onto Facebook and Twitter from the Yardsellr site.  The good news for sellers is there are no listing or final value fees here!  The bad news for buyers is that an additional fee is tacked onto their purchase price.  Another difference between here and eBay is that while PayPal is accepted here, it isn't forced on you.  Their merchandise is divided into can find one for Baseball Cards.  And many of the blocks have dedicated Facebook Pages, which brings us to.......
  • There are also PLENTY of local "online yard sale" pages and groups on Facebook.  The size of the following normally depends on the size of the city.  My home county has an Etowah County Online Yard Sale!! page 5,000+ members strong!  Shipping costs and hassles, not to mention sales tax, could be alleviated on top of getting a nice bargain. 

Now more than ever, eBay certainly cannot be ignored, but there are plenty of ways around it to find great bargains and better terms for sellers, and in this case you never have to leave Facebook, where you might spend too much time anyway! 

Please comment if I missed a Facebook-based card buying, selling, or trading group OR list a local "yard sale" page or group you may know about that has cards. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harper's Bazaar

For the second straight season, a Washington Nationals phenom is driving the sports card market.  This week, his current minor leaue team's hometown paper and SI take a look at his card values, his questionable attitude, and most important to hobbyists and investors, the value of his autograph along with his willingness to sign it. 

Have you had a big Harper pull from a box break?  Share it with us! 

For kids and adults, the hunt is on for Bryce Harper's autograph



Monday, July 25, 2011

Topps lets its (facial) hair down

Over the years, various characters of the game of baseball have become characters of the game thanks to facial hair.  That might not have been their only quirk (Al Hrabosky, Rollie Fingers, etc.), but it certainly made them unique.  Those beards and 'staches have been featured on dozens of baseball cards over the years, but always as part of the rest of their body, and normally in uniform.  Only now has a beard taken on such a life of its own that it will now be immortalized on its own card.  I'll give you three guesses who the beard belongs to......first two do not count :)

Brian Wilson's Beard Gets Own Baseball Card

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Lost Art Revived By Jimmy Fallon & Bob Costas

Granted, they are '89 Topps, but if you're looking for an easy and fun way to knock your baseball cards right out of mint condition, Jimmy Fallon and Bob Costas bring an age-old game back to life.......

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The "state of the hobby" address

The North County Times has just done an excellent three part series on the baseball card hobby, covering what it used to be, where it is today, and what the future might hold.  Most of the heavy hitters in the business are quoted, and the point of view of the brick and mortar dealer, the manufacturers, and the collector are covered.  It's a very nice, and accurate, summary of how we got here and where we might be headed, although if I have one qualm, it would be the glossing over of the impact of eBay (and on a broader scale, the internet itself) on both mom and pop dealers and on the hobby itself. 

Take a look at all three parts below............

BASEBALL CARDS SPECIAL REPORT PART I: Once-thriving baseball card industry tries to hold on to collectors

BASEBALL CARDS SPECIAL REPORT PART II: Baseball card business came crashing down after its peak 20 years ago

BASEBALL CARDS SPECIAL REPORT PART III: Sports cards evolving in effort to lure next generation of collectors

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trading up

Did your love of card collecting come from your father or another relative or did you just begin to do it yourself?  How about your love of sports?  Did it provide a bonding opportunity between you and your dad (or mom.....don't wanna leave the ladies out)? 

In order to bring the young folks who brought sports cards to the dance as a hobby generations ago, I've long been of the opinion that it will take many more moments like the one mentioned in this blog piece to fully revive this passion we love so much.  Also, note how this particular dad is using cards as a way to teach his son about fair trade.  He could probably teach Congress a thing or two about that concept. 

"Your Kid Took My Kid's Derek Jeter!"

Monday, June 6, 2011

Deficit reduction

While debt continues to pile up around M Street in our nation's capital, a few miles down the road, 2 of baseball's hottest players' cards are raking in enough dough to make a dent (albeit a tiny one) in that massive deficit :-)  Before the Tommy John Surgery Heard 'Round The World took Stephen Strasburg out of commission until at least 2012, he was carrying both the hobby and his team, which had a relatively strong first half.  While Bryce Harper has yet to wear the Nationals uni just yet, his cards are picking up the Strasburg torch, but to a much lesser extent from a price standpoint.  Still, if his fast minor league start continues, there's a chance those prices could go from "inflated" to "ludicrous".  Perhaps the Tea Party is interested in making the investment to pay down the deficit.  

Bryce Harper's trading cards rising in value

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Get social.....and get some great cards!

With the recent changes in Facebook Groups, some dormant groups have become quite vibrant and active recently.  One that has already proven to put me in the "duh, WINNING" category is the "Baseball Card trading, buying, and selling" Group

First and foremost, bear in mind that unlike many trading forums around the Web, this one is sort of "wild wild West" when it comes to lack of rules and regulations.  The wheeling and dealing here is un-policed for the time being, and for now neither Facebook nor the group admin probably have any intention of putting any regulations in place.  So, as with anything done online, caveat emptor. 

Having said that, it is proving to be a pretty good place for acquiring cards for resell for me at either eBay or, including 2011 Orlando Cepeda and Joe Morgan patch cards from a Cleveland Indians collector that only cost me Travis Hafner and Kerry Wood relic cards. 

Good luck with this new place for completing a wish list, helping someone complete theirs, turning a profit via resell, etc.! There's only 94 active members at the moment.  Let's grow it and make it a win/win for everyone. 

Baseball card trading, buying, and selling group on Facebook

Monday, May 23, 2011

Everyone loves a comeback

Even those who have abandoned the hobby after spending their childhood in pursuit of their favorite cardboard superstars are rooting for its return to glory.  You might not have bought a card in years and have no intention of doing so, but collecting provides points of reference when waxing nostalgic. 

Let's hope trading cards bounce back

Monday, May 16, 2011

What could possibly be more All-American than.......

an article about the love of our All-American hobby, written by a native of Andy Griffith's hometown, which became Mayberry on TV?  Yet another writer who thought he could retire off an '89 Upper Deck Griffey rookie card has had a rude awakening, but uses the occasion to reflect upon his life and the decisions he has made. 

Which cards in your collection trigger a very specific (and possibly non-sports related) memory?  Share them in the comment section, and in the meantime, enjoy the story of one writer's trip down memory lane upon rediscovering his card collection............

Baseball cards, memories, and the passage of time

Friday, April 22, 2011

For the love of the hobby.....

It's always fun for me to share the story of how folks like you and I grew to love this hobby with others.  These days, with publishing being as easy to do as sitting in front of your laptop, I enjoy reading the stories of others about their introduction to card collecting, and there are more of these than ever!  Discover how a discarded pack led to a still strong passion for the hobby........

Stars on Cards

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Wave of the Future?

Will this make cardboard obsolete? Or is it one of Upper Deck's last gasps at relevance?

I have to wonder what the price point of something like this will be, and if the card companies have once again missed the target if they're trying to hit in terms of audience by forcing something on them they weren't necessarily asking for nor can they afford.

Also, with the trend in technology moving toward smaller and smaller devices, the "cards" look awfully big and cumbersome to be something collected in quantity and long term.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A game within a game, Part III

Alongside the Topps 60th Anniversary "Greatest Cards of All Time" promotion, Chad Finn of the Boston Globe has decided to come up with his own list.  The rules and regulations for his list are a little different, and I actually prefer his over Topps.  He is posting his list in 5 card increments.  Here is the latest..........

Greatest baseball cards: Pack 3

Saturday, March 12, 2011

An outsider's perspective

A few weeks ago, we looked at how one of HGTV's biggest stars viewed baseball cards as an investment.  Now another investment website has offered their two cents on baseball cards as an investment these days.  They also invoke a hobby name I hadn't heard in quite a while. 

So, if you're in this to get rich (and best of luck with that, by the way), here's another opinion on how to go about it.........

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Balls ON the wall......

A couple of observations as I watched the video clip attached to the transcript of this piece......

1)  Do you think you could actually pull this off more economically just buying the items from someone you trusted to provide you with authentic merchandise?  Think of the cost of the balls, the gas to travel to the games (75 a year according to the story), lodging, food, etc.  Unless this was how you spent your summer vacation and were planning on all this anyway.........

2)  The guy wants his last name left out of the story "for his protection", but he has no problem allowing TV cameras into his home, and specifically, the room where his autograph collection is quite prominently displayed?  If someone really wanted to break in, they pretty much have all the info they need in this story.

3)  Has he had the Ruth ball authenticated?  No mention is made of it. 

Amazing autographed baseball collection

Balls ON the wall......

A couple of observations as I watched the video clip attached to the transcript of this piece......

1)  Do you think you could actually pull this off more economically just buying the items from someone you trusted to provide you with authentic merchandise?  Think of the cost of the balls, the gas to travel to the games (75 a year according to the story), lodging, food, etc.  Unless this was how you spent your summer vacation and were planning on all this anyway.........

2)  The guy wants his last name left out of the story "for his protection", but he has no problem allowing TV cameras into his home, and specifically, the room where his autograph collection is quite prominently displayed?  If someone really wanted to break in, they pretty much have all the info they need in this story.

3)  Has he had the Ruth ball authenticated?  No mention is made of it. 

Amazing autographed baseball collection

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spreading the word

The more hobby evangelists we have, the stronger the hobby will be.  This guy has a pretty sweet vintage collection and is as qualified of an "expert" as you'll find based on this article.  He is also much closer to the subject of his favorite card than most of us will ever get to our favorite players.  If you're a seller or an eBayer, I strongly recommend doing things like this as a great way to market your business.  Getting it down to the grass roots is the most effective way to build your business and word of mouth about it. 

A Passion For Portrayals - Baseball card fan presents lecture at Sayville Library


Monday, February 28, 2011

Hammerin' Hank......Baseball Card Ambassador

Whether or not you grew up in the era when they played, I hope you have educated your children on some of the baseball greats of generations before us.  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes the passing of these legends before they are fully appreciated.  Fortunately, one of those who is still with us has given the baseball card hobby a huge boost over the past week on behalf of the Topps 60th Anniversary celebration.  Here is an excellent podcast interview AND a segment from Wednesday's Late Show With David Letterman featuring the man who remains the Home Run King in the minds of many fans.........

Podcast: Hank Aaron talks baseball cards, home runs and Jeter



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

With Topps in 2011, ALL days are diamonds!

In October, Topps unveiled plans for a 60th anniversary contest with a diamond ring with the grand prize.  The site is now live as of Tuesday (2/15/2011).  It is very similar in nature to last year's Million Card giveaway, with a few variations.  Click the link below to head there and start unlocking your treasures while working your way toward making an honest woman of your significant other! 

Topps Diamond Giveaway Website

Monday, February 21, 2011

Levels of (Dis)interest

To commemmorate the 60th anniversary of Topps, NPR's excellent current events quiz show, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, found someone who knew very little about baseball cards or their history for a feature they call "Not My Job" and subtitled "This Game Comes With A Shard Of Brittle Gum".  With your knowledge and love of the hobby, can you outscore actor John Leguizamo on this quiz? 


Actor John Leguizamo Plays Not My Job

Monday, February 14, 2011

The memories remain......

Reading pieces like this, I often find myself wishing I had a DeLorean so I could either: a) stop someone's mom from throwing out a shoebox of what would now be vintage cards, thus leaving their children to wax nostalgic via the magic of print media, or b) talk her into giving them to me and then hopping back to present day courtesy of the trusty ol' flux capacitor.  Anyone reading this who may have discovered a treasure trove of cards they thought were gone forever?  Share your stories in the Comment section.........

Harry Deitz: I still miss special box of memories

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dance with the one that brought you......

Another piece about a brick and mortar shop that is hangin' in there, but this one points out a few things about the hobby and industry that I found interesting.......

1) No matter how a card shop chooses to expand their line of product and no matter how wide of variety of more "upscale" items they offer (autographed memorabilia, game used merchandise, etc.), CARDS remain what keeps the bills paid and the doors open. 

2) Note which holiday provides a surprising boom in business according to the owners

3) These folks are pretty smart in offering negotiable pricing with their autographed memorabilia, given the fact that sites like Groupon and Living Social and bartering becoming an increasingly popular phenomenon in still shaky economic times.  As an eBay seller, about 75% of my business comes from the "Best Offer" option.  If you're a seller in ANY forum (eBay,, Sportslots, etc.), this is a great option to help you move product that's been "sitting on the shelf" in a manner of speaking. 

Piece of the action: Store helps customers get close to the game

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I'm on TV, so I MUST be an expert!

It seems like collecting anything or the pursuit involved in collecting anything, sports cards and memorabilia or otherwise, seems to make for compelling reality TV these days.  Pawn Stars, Antiques Roadshow, Treasure Hunters, and for the freak show element, Hoarders.......are among some of the most watched shows on basic cable.  We've documented previously how one show dashed the dreams of a youngster who thought he had a goldmine in baseball cards.  I think it's safe to assume that none of the folks on these shows bury themselves in Beckett or religiously check eBay for the market value of the cards like those of us in the hobby do, but overall, is the advice they give, which is normally solicited solely because they're on TV, anywhere in the ballpark (no pun intended) of those regularly associated with the hobby?  Let's find out from one of HGTV's newest stars.............


Trash to Treasures, Cari Cucksey talks 'Cash & Cari,' on HGTV

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just give me 10 years, and I'll get right on it.....

What do retired baseball superstars do with all that free time on their hands?  For a former franchise Red Sox superstar, they catch up on all their fan mail.  Reading this gives me a visual of a room in his house where mail is stacked floor to ceiling. 

If you're looking to collect signed memorabilia via snail mail, here's a name you might want to add to your list that is pretty much a slam dunk to reply...........

Nomar Garciaparra Catching Up With Fans More Than a Decade Later


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Uncut & Uncensored!!!

The article below reminded me of a time when I first discovered the hobby in the early 80's when uncut sheets were a goldmine.  Safer than money in the bank.  Since rediscovering and re-entering the fray a few years ago, I began to read a few assorted pieces online indicating that they commanded nowhere near the premiums they got at the late 80's/early 90's peak of the hobby.  Once I gave it a search on the Bay, it looks like the value of uncut sheets have been knocked to the canvas. 

A closer look says, as suspected, the older the product, the bigger the price.  While any 80's era uncut sheet can be had for a song (or two), even some of the more rare and seemingly in-demand 80's era sheets have gone largely ignored thanks to overproduction.  Case in point.......this '82 Topps sheet featuring the Ripken RC for $56.55

As you would probably expect, the older the sheet, the higher the price.  A '65 O-Pee-Chee sheet featuring at least 11 Hall of Famers fetched almost $3,400.  So if you have anything pre-1970, it can still grab a pretty nice premium. 

If you're holding an uncut sheet, would it benefit you to chop it up?  Let's go to the experts.......

Babe Waxpak: To cut or not to cut card sheets, that is a complex dilemma

Monday, January 31, 2011

If you're looking to the card shop to send your kid to college......

The Stephen Strasburg example provides the textbook case of how sports cards as an investment are no safer in the long term than anything else you could sink your money into.  If investing in cards provide a better alternative than just taking your life savings and putting it all on one spin of the roulette wheel in Vegas, here's one player recommended as a target to put your money in.  An eBay search of the cards mentioned in the article indicates they can still be had for a low as 35 cents in one case (plus a rather exorbitant shipping charge for 2 baseball cards).  Then there's this one, which will cost you a little more. 

Clayton Kershaw's Los Angeles Dodgers rookie trading cards starting to pick up investment steam

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Just sign here

This is one of those rare pieces that can is beneficial to collectors AND dealers, although it is quite obviously written for the casual collector who happens to run into a player or former player in public or attends a signing.  Whether you're looking to add a signed ball or two to the shelf in your "(Insert name of favorite team here) room" or hoarding them for a potential goldmine down the road, there is care and maintenance involved just as any other hobby........

How to take care of an autographed baseball

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If you win it, they will buy

My best guess is you could substitute Cleveland, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Houston, and possibly Detroit for the Phoenix area in this article and it would read exactly the same.  And my utmost condolences to anyone who loaded up on modern era Pittsburgh Pirates memorabilia thinking it would provide your kid's first class ticket to the Ivy League.........

Monday, January 3, 2011

Divine Intervention

The story from early November about a Honus Wagner card being auctioned off to benefit a Catholic school initially had a less-than-Hollywood ending, with the original winning bidder failing to produce the $220,000 pledged for the card.  Fortunately, and just in time for the holidays, the story took a brighter turn thanks to a doctor and card collector.