Collecting baseball cards is a time-honored tradition that has been around for decades. Baseball cards first gained popularity in the early 1900s, and as a result it’s not uncommon to inherit cards from parents or grandparents. Many people whose baseball cards are tucked away in a basement or a storage unit may rightfully wonder if their baseball card collection is worth anything. The short answer is that it depends. The longer answer is, of course, a little more complicated.
Determining Baseball Card Value
Value Is Based on Supply and Demand
Before the internet, there wasn’t an easy way to determine the objective “worth” of a baseball card, as a card sold in San Jose could go for a drastically different price than a card sold in Kansas City. Then, in the 1980s, the Beckett baseball card price guides filled a void, but these guides were so influential that they actually created card value.
While Beckett’s guides still exist today alongside other online card price guides, supply and demand drives value in an age when you can put up your cards on eBay or Facebook Marketplace with a few clicks of your mouse.
Star Players and Rookie Cards Are Most Valuable
Did you know that nearly 20,000 players have made their Major League Baseball debut to date? And did you know that only 235 former MLB players are currently in the MLB Hall of Fame? For every Ted Williams or Mike Trout, there are hundreds of lesser known role players. Unfortunately, most of your baseball cards don’t have any monetary value as a result.
But Topps and other card companies print the same amount of cards for your average starting pitcher as they do the previous year’s Cy Young award winner. And since a player’s rookie season only happens once, that rookie card is also unique. Double up on a Hall of Fame rookie card and you could be onto something.
The Older, the Better
Unlike Pokemon cards and other newer card collections, baseball cards go way, way back. Cards from the last few decades can still be worth something, but the truly valuable baseball cards are over 40 years old. The most iconic baseball card of all time, Mickey Mantle’s 1952 Topps card, routinely sells for tens of thousands of dollars or more. While certainly an outlier, it’s an illustration that older, high-quality cards are the true gems of the game. Scour your collection for them.
Card Condition Greatly Affects Value
No collector wants a ripped or stained card in their collection. That’s why card condition is very important and greatly affects baseball card value. Additionally, card condition is a factor in supply and demand, as there are fewer cards available in mint condition than there are in varying stages of wear.
The PSA (Professional Sports Authenticators) provides the industry standard for card grading, offers 11 different grades from poor to gem mint that describe the card. Unless your card ranks as near mint or above, you can expect to see a significant decrease in the amount of money that it’s worth to collectors.
Store Your Cards With Care
Whether your baseball card collection is valuable or whether you’re just hanging onto some cherished memories, be sure to store your cards with care so they don’t get damaged. One way of doing so is taking advantage of climate controlled self storage. With 43 storage facilities across the United States, Central Self Storage is here to help with all your baseball card storage.