The Death Of Baseball Cards? Apparently So!

Every once in awhile the World Wide Web throws up a story about either (a) The Death of Baseball Cards, or (b) The Death of the Hobby – or maybe even both at the same time!

These stories tend to take the same format. Firstly we get a nostalgic trip down memory lane as we’re told about the place that Baseball cards used to hold in our hearts. Then we get treated to a potted history of the Baseball card hobby, paying particular attention to the changes the industry went through in the 80’s and 90’s. Thirdly we’re treated to a treatise about Topps’ exclusivity and how it has systematically ruined collecting for all of us!

Throw in the problems around rookie and prospect cards, the numbering on Topps’ base set, the evils of Beckett’s and other price guides, and a few other random issues that ‘enrage’ us collectors every once in awhile, and that’s about it!

Basically these articles don’t tell us anything new, certainly nothing we haven’t heard about before, or already dissected on various forums and in different forms of social media, over and over and over – but they are a fun read from time to time!

I came across an article today (from JohnnyD over at Yahoo Voices in November 2011) that I hadn’t read before so I thought I’d share it with you guys! Again it doesn’t add anything particularly new to the whole debate about the state of the Hobby as it is today (although I do agree with some of the points made about rookie cards and the over-emphasis on the monetary ‘value’ of cards)

The Death of Baseball Cards: How a Once-great Hobby Pastime Has Become Irrelevant

There’s also this article from The Fat Pastor that was written back in 2009 and deals with similar themes

The Death of Baseball Cards?

Even CBS got in on the act in March 2012

Collector’s Lament Baseball’s House of Cards

Here’s a nice antidote to the doom and gloom from Chris Carlin on the Upper Deck Blog (obviously it’s slanted towards UD and its products but Chris’ comments can be applied universally)

House of Cards: The Likely Death of a National Pastime

And have a read of this from Rich Klein, of Sports Collectors Daily, which acts as a counterpoint to the CBS piece

Hobby Has Changed, But Not Dead


Have a browse around the internet and you’ll find dozens of these types of articles lamenting the ‘death’ of the Hobby and pointing out the ‘irrelevance’ of card collecting in the modern era.

You’ll also find dozens of counter-arguments against these articles as well!

The thing is, I’d have to say that the Hobby is thriving, or at least that’s how it appears to me. Topps appears to still be doing pretty well for itself, thank you very much. And both Panini and Upper Deck continue to muscle in on the action, albeit in a non-MLB licensed capacity!

So to say that the Baseball card industry, and the Hobby that spawned from it, are both dead couldn’t be further from the truth!

However as Rich Klein points out, the Hobby itself HAS changed! The nature and manufacture of the product HAS changed! The way in which we collectors ‘collect’ HAS changed! And the collecting demographic HAS changed!

The Hobby has evolved and moved on! There’s nothing that us ‘old timers’ would like better than to wallow in the throes of nostalgia – recounting a time when collecting was a much more simpler and straightforward process – back when collecting was all about the love of the Hobby and not all about the ‘value’ or cards and the potential for future investment!

Unfortunately those days are all but gone and we must move on as well! I’m not saying that we can’t hold on to those collecting ideals, just that the industry isn’t necessarily built now to cater for them!

Companies do need to do something to reach out to those potential collectors who have been raised on a steady diet of video games and find ways to entice them into the collecting fold, although I fear it may well be too late for that particular generation. Baseball card collecting is definitely more of an adult Hobby nowadays, paid for with ‘grown up’ money! Perhaps the sons and daughters of today’s collectors will go on to be collectors in their own right, impassioned and enriched by our love of the game and the Hobby!

But Baseball cards and the Baseball card Hobby dead??? Nah!!!

While we still have Baseball we’ll always have Baseball cards in one form or another! And while we still have Baseball fans, they’ll always be someone willing and ready to collect them!


12 thoughts on “The Death Of Baseball Cards? Apparently So!

    1. People may find it hard to believe but that’s the first time I’ve ever been labelled ‘self-important’!

      Thanks Adam, I’ll treasure that one 🙂

      1. I kind of thought Adam was talking about the blogs you highlighted in your article but not sure. I must say I do miss the more “straightforward” production of the 50’s, thru the mid 80’s. I miss it for me, but I really do miss it for my kid. You say that they must do something to entice a generation of gamers but I think they are doing the wrong thing. My son is 6, he LOVES baseball and loves baseball cards BUT there are very few times that he wants to use his money for a 3 pack-pack at Wal-Mart for $10 when that $10 will go a long way toward a toy or game. See what I’m saying. I think manufacturers would entice more collectors by doing less and especially for less but I’m no marketing expert. Its true that they offer a few “cheaper” packs but who wants a set of cards that nobody else wants. Isn’t that kind of the point? Trade with your friends? I still collect although primarily I collect vintage. I love vintage cards BUT I would love nothing more than to invest in Bryce Harper’s rookie CARD. Notice the singularity in card there, one rookie card (hey I could still live with 3 or 4). Let’s be honest, who in the world knows which rookie card to go with. You say it was better before values were assigned to cards but I disagree. Its fun pulling a card and waiting to see if this guy hits or misses, but what’s not fun is pulling a card that worth $30 right out of the pack but nobody wants this card because in actuality there are a dozen more of that player that are worth more and thus makes them more desirable to collectors. I could ramble on this all day. Thanks for the article, and if I’m wrong about Adam’s intentions….Hey! Its good to be self-important sometimes. Let’s face it, very rarely are you (or I, or anyone) more important to someone else other than ourselves anyway.

      2. You’ve just made some fantastic points here, especially around the rookie card issue.

        It’s the one thing that gets me the most frustrated in the Hobby at the moment. Collecting RCs was the first thing I did when I entered the Hobby and it’s still something that I’m itching to get back to… but too much product and not enough emphasis on the great RC has diminished my interest.

        I started out collecting vintage RCs but had to stop due to the arrival of my first daughter. Now it’s just too darn expensive to chase some of those older cards!

        And yo make a valid point about what Adam said as well! I didn’t read it like that – which says more about me than anything else 🙂

        There’s been a ridiculous amount of interest in this post and loads of views – more than another post I’ve ever written – so I’m going to do a short follow up tonight!

        Thanks for leaving the comment!!


  1. We need to get rid of Trading Card Games and fast! TCGs (especially Pokémon) destroyed the hobby a little more. Get rid of all TCGs!

  2. I am full time card seller, since starting as a kid, all of 36yo now, (eBay & as many shows as I can do, 35-40 weekends per year across the country) and hear the same thing EVERY time I bring up cards outside of the card world, or if I’m behind my table at a mall…”What happened to all of this? When did cards go away? This stuff used to be worth something.” And then I show these people the new stuff, AND the old stuff from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 95% of them say, wow, this stuff is great, I had no idea they were making this kind of stuff (game-used/autographs/shiny/serial numbering/etc). The general public thinks the new stuff is worthless, and the older a card is, the more money its worth. So I show them new Mantles, new Cobbs, new Ripkens, and they are completely confused and say, yeah, okay, but I have a STILL SEALED fill-in-the-blank crap set from the 1980s that everyone else does too. I don’t think the general public will ever “buy back into” our hobby, but maybe that’s a good thing. To me, the general public tends to be a bunch of dum-dum sheep who take forever to change their way of thinking, and still think everything in their closet is going to buy their grandkids’ a few vehicles, someday.

  3. I am just about to make a purchase from the US and being a bit wary thought i’d check it out. Firstly, thanks for some excellent posts on this grey area. I am wondering whether they attach a VAT receipt to the package on import. If not Who is responsible for this as the US seller seems unaware of the the charges and ebay is the middleman. Is it possible to get a VAT receipt from this process?


    1. Hi there Alex!

      It all depends on what you’re ordering and what the cost is!

      The UK Customs will add the VAT and any import tax if applicable. The amount due depends upon the country that you’re getting the goods from as well.

      This is from the Inland Revenue website –

      “Generally speaking, VAT is payable on all purchases of goods and services that you buy from abroad at the same rate that would apply to the goods or services if supplied in the UK. You must tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) about goods that you import, and pay any VAT and duty that is due.

      This guide explains how you need to report VAT paid on imports, how you may be able to reclaim it, and about the various ways you may be able to defer, suspend, reduce or obtain relief from import VAT.”

      There are a lot of different variables that could come into play!

      Email me at and I’ll see if I can help any further and happily pass on what I know!

      Thanks for the comments and for reading!

  4. it was the grading companies, took every ounce of fun out of it.

    and of course the fact all the records are held by cheaters on steroids. that destroys the nostalgia of the game.

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