Are My Old Baseball Cards Worth Anything?

In the closet of my childhood bedroom, on a shelf underneath my old high school baseball uniform sits my collection of baseball cards.

The cards are stacked in dusty shoe boxes and organized in binders. I save my most valuable cards- the Hall of Famers and rookie cards, in a wooden box my father gave me.

I accumulated my collection in various ways. Like any good Disney movie, my father gave me all of his old cards from the 1960s/1970s. My cousin gave me some of his cards too from the early 2000s.

When I was young, I would get packs of cards as gifts. I have a bunch of Topps and Upper Deck cards from the 2000s as a result. While dwindling in number, I would buy cards from baseball card shops. When I got to middle school, I started spending too much time on eBay sifting through the sales online.

I would buy individual cards on eBay, but I would also buy unopened packs in bulk from the late 80s and early 90s. I rarely got anything of value from that purchase, but I have a lot of cards from that time period.

Collecting baseball cards was one of my first hobbies, which made a lot of sense considering how much I was into baseball as a kid. At sports camp over the summer, I would bring my cards with me to show other kids and possibly even make trades. Baseball cards were a whole social event.

Once I got to high school, I completely abandoned my cards. I dropped them from my consciousness. I was too busy with school work and after-school sports and crossing my fingers hoping girls like me. It wasn’t on purpose, as I never put my cards down one day and was like “I’m done with this.” It just kinda happened.

I ignored my cards throughout college, as it was the last thing on my mind as I struggled to get all of my school work done. Being away from home kept me from opening up those dusty boxes.

Now that I am done with college and living at home, as part of my mom’s campaign to get me to clean out and organize the old junk in my bedroom, I have been tasked with organizing all my cards into one giant plastic box.

This campaign has reawoken my love for collecting baseball cards. Instead of the intended result of getting rid of my unused cards, I am now 100% invested again in the expansion of my collection. I’m back on eBay and online auction sites looking up the prices of rookie cards and player’s most valuable cards.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on PSAcard.com, the organization that professionally grades cards. They have lists of specific player’s most valuable cards, so I know which ones to look up when I want to purchase a card.

PSA is really important to the baseball card world. The value of a card goes up when it is graded by PSA. If I had two of the same cards in identical condition but only one of them was graded, the graded one would be worth more money even though they are the same card.

When a card is graded, the authenticity of the card becomes recognized to potential sellers. Buyers want to purchase a card they know is legitimate and that has been assessed by professionals to determine the card’s true condition and value. Without getting your cards graded, they aren’t worth selling.

My collection probably exceeds 5,000 cards. It is expensive to get a card graded, as each individual card costs around $15 dollars, if not more. It would be outrageously expensive and not worth the cost to get my thousands of cards graded.

To be clear, 99.9% of baseball cards are completely worthless. I’m sorry to say this, but your 2008 Topps Derek Jeter card isn’t worth any money, even though Jeter is in the Hall of Fame. Like any business, baseball cards become valuable through supply and demand. That’s what makes a rookie card the most valuable genre of a card- there is only one year you can be a rookie. An athlete can play 20 years and have 20 different cards for each season- but there’s only one season in which they were a rookie.

Really old cards become valuable by default- the industry did not produce baseball cards the same way they do today. The late 80s/early 90s baseball card production boom saw an estimated 81 billion trading cards made per year during this time, making all of the cards produced during that era completely worthless. There was way too much supply to demand high prices for any of the cards produced during that time.

Trading card companies do not share with the public how many cards they make per year, but before the late 80s production boom it can be assumed that the industry made significantly less than 81 billion cards a year. Since there are way fewer copies of cards from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, these cards can be worth a lot of money.

Because of how much time has passed, it is hard to find mint condition cards from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Rookie cards from this era are some of the most valuable cards in the entire industry. Cards from before the 40s are almost impossible to find in mind condition and are expensive simply for how old they are.

What I would prefer to do is get 10-20 or 50 (depending on the pricing of different plans) of my most valuable cards graded with the hopes of one day in the future cashing out on a profit. If it is going to cost around $15 dollars a card to get graded, I would only pick 10-20 cards that I think would make it worth the cost. Otherwise, I might lose money from paying for too many cards to get graded.

Something I try to remember when participating in the hobby is that baseball cards aren’t worth anything. 99.9% of cards are worth zero dollars. It is only 0.1% of cards that can net anything of value. If you have a collection of baseball cards, it is very likely that it cost more to buy than you would sell.

So, while your collection probably may not be worth anything financially, it still retains value if it is something that is emotionally valuable to you. If you have fond memories of collecting cards as a kid, that is really all that matters. If your cards mean something to you, not every hobby has to earn you a profit.

If I ever decide to sell my baseball cards, I will have to grapple with the emotional consequences. The hobby is intrinsically tied to the most important people in my life, which makes my specific collection of cards more than just pieces of shiny cardboard. They’re ties to my family and friends who have played a role over the years adding to my collection. Getting rid of those ties for the sake of a little extra money is a decision that I will not take lightly.

Unless you have a 2009 Mike Trout Bowman Chrome rookie card listed on eBay for as much as $300,000, the best thing to do with your cards might be to hold on to the ones that are important to you in hopes that someday you will pass them on to a loved one who will appreciate them just as much as you do once you’re gone.

For more thoughts and opinions from Zachary Diamond, check out his author page or Twitter.

35 responses to “Are My Old Baseball Cards Worth Anything?

  1. Do you know which baseball cards from the eighties and nineties are valuable? Does PSA grade football cards?

    1. Yes PSA will grade football. Actually just about any sport they will. From the eighties Cal Ripken rookie, Ken Griffey Jr Rookie, and a few others. If you really want to get a idea type a popular players name in the search on eBay and you can see what others are selling their cards for.

  2. Hi, I have all real originally 1953 to 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle complete of single cards, however I don’t have only 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card. So do you have idea how much worthy for my all of Mickey Mantle cards are without a 1952 topps Mickey Mantle card? Please.

    1. Dude if you really had a 1953 mickey mantle tops 1953 even used on ebay there selling for anywhere from 2 milion to 8 thousand i don’t know why people lie on these site about the most outrageous stuff.You would have had 100 offers for that card one go on ebay and type it in and tell me your screen name after you post it to sell it because I’ll buy it for 4k.

      1. Theres literally 1953 mickey mantle card used that people are selling for 2,000,000$ and 3,000,000$ and then 7k and one is 949 dollars its whatever you want to put but the guy above said he has a bunch of mickey mantle cards from 1953 through 1961 but he didn’t think a MICKEY MANTLE!!!!!!!! Was worth anything so he is a liar

    1. curious why is it a great line and what does you being done with community College make it better

  3. I have a wonderful collection of football baseball cards and I have the 1952 Mickey Mantle and I have a lot of rookies mostly football but I was very impressed with the condition of the 1952 Mantle I thinking about getting rid of it and I checked the measurements for the Mantle and they are exactly the same thing as original so I don’t don’t that it’s a reprint

    1. Which 1952 if it’s his rookie card some off them are worth 300,000 to 400,000 if there mint psa10 but used 70k products depending how bad its used have it graded if its a psa8 9 or 10 you’re looking at alot and some are worth 700 to 4,5,6 thousand

    2. Email me some pictures of the cards and if you feel like making money I would buy some depending how beat up they are

      1. Hello Nicholas, I have thousands of cards that are in excellent condition most of them are in plastic cases. My husband passed away and I want to sell them. I never payed attention to buying or selling these cards.

  4. I think the story of college graduate living with his parents is honest and very objective.Like him,I view the grading system to be the money maker.It is that way with guns,coins,and YES,sports cards. I believe grading should be subjective,and not be dependent on the”slab container of the middleman”.If seller sells something as pristene,a perfect 10,or au,ms 65,etc,and the buyer thinks different,the buyer contacts “ebay,and the seller may get a strike against them. AS ALWAYS,BUYER BEWARE,AND PRICE YOUR ITEMS FAIRLY.

  5. Anyone interested in this should watch the documentary “Jack of All Trades” on Netfflix.

    And yeah, I’ve got the closet full of boxes of cards, too. 😉

  6. I have a lot of Baseball cards from1970-2004.

    I have a lot of football cards from 1970-2000.

    If anyone out there is interested in buying, let me know.text me at 602-200-4004.

  7. I have never sold a baseball cards I habe been building sets for 35 years I have cards from 50 60 70 80 90 20 and up I have some cards that haven’t seen the light of day for 40 years. I’m 64 and have been collecting since 1970. I believe I have approx 400000.to 600000 thousand cards it’s a pretty impressive sight. I have pete rose Johnny bench Mike sshmidt almost all mantle cards these are all rookie thru their last years.roger Maris and Ken griffey to.if some one is really interested in wondering if it’s time to start selling them like I said it’s a pretty impressive sight.let me know if there are any serious buyers I really don’t want to part with them but I’m considering

  8. Excellent cover story very straight forward and honest. I have mostly late 80’s & early 90’s baseball cards and after reading through all these (stories) I have decided to place them on green felt and cover with cheap plexiglass . Thank you to all the honest non greedy traditional card collectors.

  9. I have a few cards from the 60s and 70s, 66 mantle, 69 mays, 69 kaline, 71 mccovey, 70gibson and some other big names, none have been graded but have been kept in a card binder that a buddy gave to me all look to be in great condition

  10. I have a Bowman 1990 Chipper Jones Rookie Card. I was throwing most of my cards away when I found this gem. Many will laugh because Chipper isnt Mantle but he was to me!

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