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Who really keeps their baseball cards?

I know how many I own. What about you?

We have reached that time in the sports year where the overall excitement is limited. I know the Astros are crushing it theses days and for those fans who watch all 162 games with fierce intensity like Chris Campise that’s great. For me, not so much. I’m a September and October baseball kind of guy. The NFL is my favorite sport to watch and in the spring I enjoy the NBA playoffs as well. Neither of those are on right now and since I’m still waiting for baseball to matter I’ve entered a sort of sports dead zone. I’m probably not alone based on some of the things I hear on sports talk radio.

With so much distraction free time on my hands I decided to undertake a task that was long overdue: organizing and inventorying my sizeable baseball card collection. You know; those things you got when you were a kid because they were a cheap way for your parents to give you something to stop your tantrum in whatever store they were shopping at. Unlike most folks however, I have kept every baseball card I have ever been given. Over the last 30 years or so I have slowly grown my collection, keeping them in protective sleeves tucked away in a large box only rarely seeing the light of day.

There were three basic problems with that: 1) they took up space for what seems like only a nostalgic purpose 2) there were not entirely organized in a way that let me know what I actually had and 3) I had no idea what they were worth. I chose to spend my dead zone correcting these problems. Starting with getting them organized. Next would be the inventorying and valuing. As of this posting I have only the latter remaining and some of that will have to be done by a professional.

I spent about 2 weeks labeling dividers and separating out all of my cards by the year, manufacturer and set. I found out I have over 160 different varieties. Instead of 1 large box and a bin packed tight I now have 2 large boxes that I can easily search to find cards worth looking for.

I took last week off to help my wife care for our newborn and in between him eating and sleeping I painstakingly inventoried all of my cards. In the end I discovered that I own 7,758 baseball cards of which 6,240 were typed into a spreadsheet so I can begin noting their value. That’s a lot of baseball cards. The sad part is that most of them are ones that would be tossed aside by any serious collector.

For me though, it was a cool experience. I got to remember guys like Chili Davis, Candy Maldonado and Wally Whitehurst. I got to wonder why Will Clark and my all time favorite player Dave Stewart aren’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And of course discover that I have what seems like a hundred baseball cards of Kelly Gruber. As an additional bonus I got to revisit pretty much every Astros team from the 1990’s and parts of the 2000’s because my mother would buy me a team set every year of my youth and some of my adulthood.

Not all of my baseball cards are only worth a dime though. That’s why I have to finish this project off with the valuation. I have some interesting cards like 2 with Derek Jeter in minor league uniforms, plenty of cards from cereal and cookies, and a Mark Teixeira card from the 2005 Fleer Tradition “Phantom Set”. I have been pouring over my 2017 Beckett Price Guide to find as many as I can; getting excited when I find one worth more that a buck or two, like an $8.00 Cal Ripken Jr. card. In the end I only hope these thousands of cards will combine for more than $500 in value. That’s optimistic.

I have to get this completed before the end of July because my friend and I will be taking a trip to Cooperstown, NY to watch the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (be on the lookout for that story). While I’m there I want to get as many autographs as I can from guys like Wade Boggs, Dave Winfield and of course the newest Astro inductee Jeff Bagwell. Plus, it’s just cool to know how many and which ones I have sitting in those boxes collecting dust waiting for my grandchildren to cash in on 50 years from now.

 

2 Comments on Who really keeps their baseball cards?

  1. 1987 topps // June 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm // Reply

    I have news for you. Your collection is worth what someone would pay. Which is zero. Worthless. My buddy has a job from home and he literally works 1 hour a week. So believe me he had the time to research baseball cards and how to get rid of them. He couldn’t give them away. We are talking 5k+ cards. After years of trying, he tried giving them away. That didn’t even work. Baseball cards are completely worthless and nothing but space killers. Dump them as fast as you can.

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  2. Brien O'Donal // June 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm // Reply

    Thanks for the comment. You’re 100% correct. I like putting the value on them but realistically I know right now they are worthless. However, I’ve read a lot of articles over the years that talk about collections that are 50+ years old being sold at auction for more than they’re worth simply because there are good cards worth money lumped in with common cards that have become extremely rare. Those common cards get that rare because no sane person would keep them for 50+ years. Personally, I have a bit of nostalgia coupled with OCD (which is why I’ve kept them this long to begin with) and I hope that I can convince my children and grandchildren to hold on to them until they reach that sweet spot of being sold for more than they are really worth. No one knows what will happen then but my wife will probably have to pry them from my cold dead fingers if she wanted to just throw them out with the garbage.

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