Million-Dollar Cards: Baseball sports cards are booming

Whoever thought that the era of sports cards was long gone was very wrong. Trading cards may have been forgotten for about three decades, but they are now experiencing a true renaissance. Several baseball cards have recently been sold for millions of dollars, and the most expensive one might still be ahead of us. Sounds random? Well, here’s what caused the sudden sports card boom.

Source: Forbes

Sports fans are bored because of the pandemic

The number one reason why baseball cards have become so popular over the past year after decades of oblivion is the pandemic. Sports fans are used to following season after season and watching regular broadcasts (or actually attending games). Because of the lockdown, they had nothing to look forward to for months. Naturally, new entertainment options skyrocketed in popularity. Video gaming became a near-universal pastime. Multiple online gambling platforms that accept Bitcoin emerged. Streaming services grew their subscriber bases.

While baseball cards are by no means a new form of entertainment, their sudden rebirth is also a result of the lockdown. Devoted sports fans were desperate for something sports-related, and eSports and sports cards came to their rescue. After all, looking for a rare vintage card may not be as exciting as watching Mets play, but it’s something. Sadly, this also means that baseball cards will probably be forgotten again soon.

Everyone is looking for a sense of community

Live sports are not the only loss that the world has experienced over the past eighteen months. One of the things that the pandemic took from us is the pleasure of spending time with groups of people who enjoy the same things we do. Even get-togethers with close friends were off-limits for a lot of people, not to mention casual sports bar acquaintances. Because of this, everyone has been searching for new ways to connect with others.

This is how the community of baseball card collectors has seen a huge inflow of new members. Many sports card enthusiasts do meet up in person from time to time, but it is also easy to trade as well as find like-minded people online. There are baseball card forums where collectors can spend hours communicating. So it’s not difficult to understand the appeal, especially during the lockdown.

Some are hoping to profit

On top of this, baseball cards can be extremely profitable. Some new and rare vintage baseball cards and card collections have prices comparable to those on art masterpieces. Until recently, several hundred dollars were the limit (with a few exceptions), but the pandemic-caused card boom changed this. Now, the record belongs to T206 Honus Wagner issued by American Tobacco sometime around 1910: it sold for more than $6 million a month ago.

Also, there is a specific group of baseball card collectors who got into collecting specifically for profit. They treat cards as equities and are sometimes referred to as Wall Street types. Wall Street types are not very well-liked among true enthusiasts both because they lack passion for the cards and because they pump up the prices.

The tug of nostalgia

Finally, nostalgia and love for vintage have also contributed to the recently increased demand for baseball cards. The late 1980s were the peak of popularity for sports cards. Now, people who were kids at the time and used to play with them are nostalgic for their childhood and “the good ol’ days”, so they are buying vintage cards to relive their memories. What’s more, all things vintage have become trendy over the past five years or so. A lot of young people find it cool to spend hours thrift shopping and raiding one’s grandparents’ attic. It’s easy how old baseball cards fit into this trend.

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