Sportscard investors: Are they killing the baseball card collecting hobby

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Having watched a lot of YouTube videos over the past few months, where so-called baseball card collectors are opening up packs, boxes, or cases of new cards; going through cards purchased at flea markets, just to find the valuable cards. These are sportscard investors, they are not doing it to complete a base set or to find that one chase or final insert card they need to finish a master set. They are doing it primarily to find valuable cards to make money. This is perpetuating the investor mentality, which is driving the price of new card boxes or packs up and out of the reach of real collectors, this means that the hobby is slowly being pushed out of reach of the average hobbyist.

YouTube & Investors

I won’t name the YouTube creators that are guilty of doing this, they know who they are, they must realise that they are limiting the ability of your average collector to collect cards that are missing from their collection because the investors have made that card or cards so expensive to buy. So real collectors will have incomplete sets, they won’t be able to purchase that missing chase or insert card, or even a base card because sportscard investors have pushed the price up to where that card is now worth more than a week’s wage and in some instances more than than a years salary. You only need to check out eBay to see some of the high prices Baseball cards (although this problem is not only limited to Baseball cards, Basketball cards have the same issue).

Baseball Card Manufacturers

There are others that are contributing to this problem, the card publishers. They produce so many different cards:- chase cards, insert cards, parallel sets, not forgetting limited prints, short prints, or super short prints. All of which have the effect of pushing the price up of the rest of the cards in that set. Below I have listed an example of what I mean by different cards:

2020 Topps Baseball

  • Base Set (1) 350 cards
  • Insert Sets (130) 6141 cards
  • Mail-in Sets (6) 552 cards
  • Parallel Sets (19) 6152 cards
  • Promo Sets ( 13) 350 cards

The complete set is 13833 cards and would cost, actually, I have no idea how much it would cost, suffice to say it would be more than I earn in a lifetime.

Baseball Card Junk Wax Era

Between 1988 and 1992, called the “Junk Wax Era” by hobby collectors and sportscard investors, the main card producing companies significantly overproduced baseball cards, much more than they do today. Investors, in general, do not consider cards produced during this time as valuable and as such the cards printed during this period are easily affordable for collectors and readily available, even today. Set collectors, team collectors or player collectors have many places to find these cards, such as eBay, ComC and Ebid. So it is fair to say that the so-called “Junk Wax Era” may have overproduced cards, but at least a complete set is possible for the average collector because the investors don’t value the cards of this era.

I have said that the “Junk Wax Era” cards have never been considered valuable by investors, there are a few exceptions to this “rule”. There are certain baseball players that may command a higher price, players such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Nolan Ryan, etc, but not significantly, we are talking a few dollars, instead of a few cents.

In The End

The conclusion then, is that the investors are killing the hobby for the collectors. Collectors can only collect to a certain point, after which the cards they require are far too costly. Perhaps now is a good time for a new junk wax era, to calm the prices down and allow collectors to be collectors.

It is not the enjoyment of the hobby that drives people to collect, but the dollar value a card has. It is this need to accumulate money that has created the Baseball Card collector of the 21st century, and is pushing the set collector of the 20th century into obscurity.

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