Why Collecting Baseball Cards is the Perfect Hobby for any Baseball Fan
Sports cards aren't just for trading with your friends during recess anymore. In fact, there is a very lucrative market for them! The COVID-19 pandemic reinvigorated the market for baseball cards and now the United States Sports Trading Card Market is projected to reach over $62bn by 2027.
This boom creates a unique opportunity for those who love baseball and might be looking for a little extra cash.
Whether you're brand new to the baseball card scene or a lifelong fan who's been waiting to get involved, keep reading for some things to consider as you begin your collection.
Before You Begin
Before you start, there are a few things you need to consider. For example, you don't need to be a die-hard baseball follower, but it can help! That way you are already akin to who's hot (and who's not) right now. Let's talk about a few more considerations.
What is a Baseball Card?
First things first, what is a baseball card? A baseball card, or any trading card, is a cardboard, silk, or plastic card with a notable player or character on it. In the 1950s, baseball cards came with a stick of gum, but nowadays, they can come as is, or with a piece of the player's jersey or some other small collector item in the back.
On the front of the card is usually an action shot or headshot of the icon and on the back, a short biography on the player, recent statistics from the sport they play, or paid advertising.
The card itself can be sold, traded, or put on display -- it all depends what you want.
Figure Out What Interests You
Whether you're into baseball, another sport, Pokémon, or some other category of collectibles, you need to figure out what interests you. It may seem obvious, but the market for trading cards is very wide and is important to know what you're collecting.
Baseball cards are some of the first forms of trading cards and have been around since the 1900s. It is the original trading card and the market continues to grow, especially online. Although other sports created cards for their players, none ever caught on or did quite as well as baseball cards. You can purchase almost every player of all time and varying qualities of cards for each player. It is an extremely robust market.
General Sports Cards
Since baseball found so much success in this area, other sports developed their own trading cards. Although not nearly as popular, other sports, like hockey, can bring in hundreds to thousands of dollars for certain cards and memorabilia.
We all remember when Pokémon Go took the world by storm in 2016 but did you know there is still a huge market for them in 2022? The Pokémon Trading Card Game (PTCG) is a huge community of buyers, sellers, and traders who love the game and built a network around it. From all the evolutions of Eevee to rare Pokémon cards, who can resist wanting to collect them all?
Collector cards range from limited edition sports cards to Disney to Gucci branded cards. This category is more of a catch-all that really comes down to whatever it is you're looking for.
Gauge Your Time Commitment
Collecting anything takes time and dedication. Before you jump headfirst into collecting cards, make sure you budget out time to devote to researching, purchasing, and organizing your collection.
Understand the Card Values
Card values fluctuate which means that a card that was worth thousands the day before, may have plummeted and is now worth pennies. Similar to stocks, collectors need to have their finger on the pulse regarding what's hot and what's not.
Another important note is the difference in card types. For example, modern cards differ in value depending on the player's career stats, but vintage cards are more upfront in value because the player's career is over and you already know the level of their success. In other words, if you buy a rookie card, it's a toss-up whether they will have an all-star career or turn out to be a flop; but if you take a chance on that rookie and they turn out to be the greatest of all time, then you have yourself a huge profit margin on that card.
Card values can also change based on the team association. This means that the same player's card can increase or decrease in value if they are traded. For example, Johnny Damon's card increased in value after he was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees and won them a World Series.
Choose Your Strategy
Once you have established the time commitment to the hobby and understand how card values work, you're ready to create a strategy for buying and selling.
Strategy comes down to the short game vs. the long game. If you want to flip cards, it is a short-term investment with the goal of increasing income by buying cards that are likely to increase in value. Short-term card flipping is a high-risk, high reward. On the flip side, long-term card investing requires patience, for up to years. You minimize your risk because you know the projections of the players, but you have to wait for your investment to reach its peak before you sell.
Collecting anything can be a source of joy, especially when you know a lot about the thing you're collecting. But, that isn't the only reason to collect!
It's Good for You
Studies have shown that when you become a master in something, your confidence spikes! Therefore over time, when you become an expert in baseball card values, the players, and memorabilia, your self-esteem rises and you actually become an expert in that field.
There are also studies done that show having a hobby can help us occupy our time, gives us a sense of belonging, and ward off depression. As your brain is running a card comparison, you are helping yourself stay mentally healthy.
Creates New Relationships
Collecting novelty cards doesn't need to be a solo hobby. When you start selling sports cards, you open yourself up to a whole new community of baseball fanatics who are just like you.
There are many places you can get connected to other buyers and sellers. Conventions, like the National Sports Collectors Convention, are a great way to see new places and meet new people who share the same passion for collectibles.
But, you don't need to fly out to Chicago to meet some like-minded folks. You can also cultivate relationships with other sellers on message boards, your favorite buyers who always leave you a good review or the friends who find out you're collecting and want you to help them find their dream player. Regardless of the context, relationships can form from anywhere over anything, so why not make it something you're passionate about.
Also, if you have kids, this is a great way to share the sport or subject you love. You can pass your cards down to them, explain the value of budgeting, and spend quality time investing in something you share a love for. You can even take your kids to games so they can see their favorite cards in action!
Makes Some Money
It is no secret that the card industry is expansive. When you start buying and selling cards, you have the opportunity to make some side money.
Making money through baseball cards can be time-consuming, but if you love it is probably well worth it to you. Ever heard of the Honus Wagner T206 card? If not, it's a great example of what kind of monetary potential cards have. A copy of this extremely rare card was sold in 2021 and amassed more than $6.6 million.
However, it is important to note before you begin your endeavor, you are not guaranteed to make money. It can be a difficult market to break into, especially on the retail side, but that is why we're here to help!
Admire Your Collection
You don't need to dedicate the next decade of your life to flipping baseball cards for profit. Are you a baseball fan? That is qualification enough to start a collection, even if it's just for you.
And, after all that work to find your favorite player on cardstock, sometimes that's all you really need. You can be proud of yourself for finding that rare or valuable card, but you can be equally proud of yourself for finding your favorite player from when you were a kid or the player that hit a grand slam at that game you went to with your dad on your 8th birthday.
Whatever the reason for collecting, your enjoyment is the most important thing of all.
How to Get Started
Now that you have the full scope of trading baseball and special collectible cards, you may be wondering, how do I start?
Establish Your Focus
The first thing you should do when going to start a collection is established what team, item, or players you want to focus on. Whether you are searching for a specific team, a specific sport, or a specific type of memorabilia, like helmets, bats, balls, or some other item, it is important for you to establish that from the onset.
Set a Budget
Second, you need a budget. If you are a sports fan, it can be easy to get carried away "adding to cart", but you don't want to go broke. Instead, you can begin shopping within a budget, and if you find a novelty item you've been coveting, save for it! Just make sure you are monitoring how much money you are investing into the hobby.
However, if you are not looking to spend a lot of money and prefer to shop for enjoyment, refine your search to more affordable, non-limited edition cards.
Next, you should conduct research! You may think you know everything there is to know about your favorite team, but there is a good chance that their presence in the trading card world is different that their presence on the field.
Compare prices to make sure you are not being overcharged or undercharged. You can do this by looking on eBay or other online seller sites to compare the card you are looking at and the price it is being sold for. If the values are wildly off, then maybe you look for the same card from a different seller.
Due to the nature of the industry, there can be a lot of forgeries and "too good to be true's." Buying from trusted sites, like Breaking Bangers, can help reduce the risk. Trust your gut and do your research to avoid missing any red flags.
Protect Your Collection
Finally, make sure you are prepared to protect your collection. No matter what you are collecting, you want to make sure your investment is protected!
If you are buying cards only, make sure you buy a binder to store the cards and keep them safely in a climate-controlled place. If you choose to buy sports memorabilia like bats or helmets, make sure you protect it from dust and other potentially harmful elements that can damage and devalue your items.
Ready to Start?
It can be overwhelming to start browsing, even with all the benefits laid out as you set out to begin your trading card journey, worry not for you are not alone. We can help you get started with our complete guide to starting collecting memorabilia.
Ready to start perusing? Check out our website which has everything from Funko Pops to fantasy.
Collecting cards is one of the most fun, most profitable adaptations of America's pastimes and it's really never too late to get involved.