CBS New York - There are several different ways to signal the start of a baseball season. There are free agency, pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, the start of exhibition games and, of course, opening day. But for many kids (of all ages), the new baseball season also starts with the opening of something else: ripping open that first pack of baseball cards!
To the delight of many collectors, the baseball season is now officially underway after Topps unveiled Series 1 of its 2016 set.
The Super Bowl is over, pitchers and catchers report this week, and 2016 Topps Baseball is out! All of these events means we are that much closer to the start of baseball season.
Now baseball cards aren't nearly as popular as they once were. The height of the market was in the 90's when inserts and autographed cards first came out.
Here's a quick history lesson: Basically until the early 1990s Topps or any other brand would release a set of cards. For the most part these cards from any given year looked the same and all followed the same format, like this 1952 Topps set:
Then came the 90's when the card industry invented "inserts" that were special cards placed among the rest of the set that stood out. They could look like this:
These shiny new cards took the sports card world by storm. Collectors had never seen anything like them before. Throw in autographed cards and memorabilia cards (pieces of jersey, bat, etc.) and the whole industry was reinvented. Cards now look like this:
This renewed interest in cards lasted for about 10-15 years but then the market got watered down. Over the years the industry developed so many inserts and so many memorabilia/autographed cards that "commons" suddenly had no value. "Commons" are the base set of cards that aren't inserts. Today they look like this:
Before inserts the point of card collecting was to complete a set. For example to acquire all the cards from 1952 Topps would be valuable. But now any commons from the 1990s on aren't worth much anymore. The most valuable cards from today's products are autographed rookie cards of young studs (Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, etc.) So the problem with cards today is that you basically open a pack or box just to get to the autographed cards. The "newness" of inserts has worn off.
Due to autographs there's definitely still a market for baseball cards. My dad owns a sports cards/memorabilia store and new customers come in every day. While card collecting isn't the craze it once was, it reminds a lot of us of our childhoods. Below are some of the cards I remember most from collecting: