The State of The Hobby

anglinomics

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It seems like the high prices started years ago when the companies began to issue a small amount of cards for a lot of money. Like Topps Museum where you get 20 cards for $380.00. Some of these high end products have a single cards for well over $100.00. But with other releases like Topps Allen & Ginter where you still get 24 packs of 8 cards, their upcoming release is currently around $130.00. I'm thinking that they were less that $100 just before the virus. With the halt of new releases because of the virus shutdown, the companies must be trying to make up for lost revenue.
 

Steelers8873

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Seriously do the math. Go online and find a random hobby box and take the price and divide that by the number of cards in the box and some of these cards are going to be base cards with the exception of a few brands. You will be shocked to notice your paying $3,4,5 even more in some cases for base cards..thanks but no thanks just for the hit or 2 in the box that generally isn't a "hit" at all 3/4 of the time.
 

dbacknate

Pro
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I’ll chime in here.
As a 17 year old in the middle class, collecting is hard. For me to have to spend the kind of money for new product to be able to trade is crazy. So I am limited to a hanger or two a month if that (and that’s if I can find them). You also have people (not really on The Bench but on FB and eBay) that ridicule you if you’re not willing to buy their ridiculously marked up boxes or cards. So, the state of the hobby is that there is (in general) no more love of the game and players like it used to be. It’s basically a lottery where you buy a ton of boxes and then hope you get some hot numbered prospect that you sell and don’t even care about. This is not conducive for my generation and will not encourage kids to collect and love baseball cards and the sport. My two cents.
 

mrmopar

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Seriously do the math. Go online and find a random hobby box and take the price and divide that by the number of cards in the box and some of these cards are going to be base cards with the exception of a few brands. You will be shocked to notice your paying $3,4,5 even more in some cases for base cards..thanks but no thanks just for the hit or 2 in the box that generally isn't a "hit" at all 3/4 of the time.
I learned this after the 1990s insert craze. I was pretty much done by 99 or 2000. Back then, I was maybe spending $60-80 on a box, which typically still had 24-36 packs. I am guessing a bit, because even then I was buying fewer boxes than say 1994-95.

I would chase the stars and inserts, usually feeling a little cheated when I looked through my $60 pile of cards, maybe 500 or less. I might have hit a John Olerud 1:36 and a few better players in those 1:18 or 1:12 odds inserts. In the end, it was clearly more economical to buy what you wanted. You got fewer cards, but you got exactly what you wanted.

Opening packs for many is an addiction. Even if you are not reselling, it is gambling at it's best. Some will laugh or pass it off, because it's not a drug or other chemical usually associated with addiction, but people are hooked and can't stop. I still feel like I am addicted to buying cards, just now it is singles. I try to set a reasonable range of spending, but sometimes something I MUST HAVE pops up and I will go all out for it, regardless of the cost. I find myself with dozens of daily searches and when my mailbox does not reward me, I tend to search off of my normal saved searches. I could collect forever and never grow tired of it, because it provides a rush I need.
 

bblair_2002

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Went to a card show in Albany today and although I feel the hobby is strong,there were a couple things that left a bad taste in my mouth so here goes............

Retail product. 75% of the show dealers that sold any kind of unopened product came in the form of blaster boxes,mega boxes,hanger boxes and fat packs. I do know shop owners can order retail direct but according with one owner I know and chat with a lot,since the pandemic his orders for retail have been cut drastically to even none at all on some product. Since most of what I saw was post-COVID product I have to assume that these "dealers" didn't save any for the kids and raided every Target/Walmart/Walgreens,etc. for the stuff they were peddling at this show. What's worse is,another shop owner friend of mine who set up today told me there were tons of people trying to sell their retail product to the dealers.

Bo-ringgggg. Seems like every table I went to,I saw the same cards at everyone's tables. Acuna-this,Tatis-that,Ohtani-who gives a s***? I wanna go to a show and see stuff I don't see every day. I almost bought a sealed box of 1994 Bowman's Best for $80 for the nostalgia-factor and it actually seems like a bargain compared to what today's stuff goes for. I could not find a single table that carried singles of 2020 Stadium Club Chrome..........not a one! Luckily I almost finished the set on Sportlots tonight with only #104 Juan Soto to go :)
 

thebradau

All-Star
756
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as someone who collects Tiger AUs and builds sets, the past year has been a challenge, apart from the handful of transactions I've made here. While I've got most of the Tiger AUs I need, the set building is very difficult. I purchased flat rates of base before the market exploded. I was able to piece together partial sets. What's missing? Rookies. What's going to cost a second mortgage? Rookies.
I can't fault people for asking what the current market is paying. But for someone who prefers to trade, unless I have another Tatis/Acuna/etc, I'm likely stuck. I am hopeful trade night this Tuesday can help! (for example, I have six 2018 Topps Update sets that need one card - #us300 Juan Soto :confused:)
 

SymphonicMetal

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I have mixed feelings as to the long term benefits of the recent card craze. A friend of mine opened an LCS in February and things were extremely busy the first 2 months and now have slowed subsatntially. The amount of money people were paying for new product was just insane.

One thing that really concerns me is the lack of true collectors. I'm probably the only one who ever walks into the store with a want list, at least one that was not for a 2020 or 2021 product. I am also about the only one who is interested in older cards. The inside joke in the store is I am the only one who ever looks at the display cases that hold the vintage cards.. I'd say almost all of the sales are new unopend product and card supplies of which there is a huge demand for. Singles are pretty much dead.

A lot of the original big spenders seem to have disappeared and it is not because of any ill will towards the owner. Some got caught up in the craze, spent big money and discovered all that glitters is not gold. They followed the herd only to discover that after spending all those hundreds and thousands of dollars, they are left with little to show for it. Some spent their stimulus money which they viewed as "free money" and now no longer have that disposable income windfall. Some of the slowness is seasonal now that the weather is nice I find myself in that category myself. And now that things have opened up, people are spending their entertainment money elsewhere.

One thing that is a positive is the amount of vintage cards that are hitting the market even in a small town like mine. Some astounding cards have walked into that store in the past 3 months with people selling their cards while the getting was good. Some turn it into new products and some into cash. Either way there are some really nice vintage coming into that store.

Once the dust settles, I think the hobby will show a net postive in number of people in the hobby as well as a decent increase in the value of many cards from pre pandemic era levels. We are in the midst of a major correction so only time will tell. . Put "Sports card values drop" in the YouTube search and you'll find a bunch of recent videos posted by collector/investors talking about the big drop sales prices in sports cards that is currently happening. I hope this craze is an overall positive for the hobby but I have no illusions about these insane card values being anything other than Monopoly money.

Despite all the price rises this still remains an inexpensive hobby for me. First, I don't buy any of the new, overpriced products. And the ridiculous price rises for some older cards has benefitted me greatly as I have been able to trade many of those (ie the 1996-97 Topps Kobe RCs) into older cards that I want and will hold their value better over the long haul. The path of least resistance philosophy will work once again for me.
 
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SymphonicMetal

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Shades of 1990.
I think so. That is the only time I have ever spent money unwisely with cards and I won't ever make that mistake again. That era demonstrated the difference between "wanting" and "needing". Most of us wanted those cards but spent stupid money like we needed them.
 

rlschles

Prospect
12
I was pretty judicious. I only threw away money on the Traded sets and one 1991 factory sealed set that's worth less today than I paid for it 30 years ago. The rest of the time I would just buy a couple packs here and there if I saw them in a mini-mart for the fun of opening them. That's how I ended up with all those 89 Bowmans, not cuz they were worth something, but I thought they were an attractive set. Unlike the yellow Fleers and the red Donruss's, surely the two ugliest set of cards ever produced.
 

Kirbyfan34

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I’ll chime in here.
As a 17 year old in the middle class, collecting is hard. For me to have to spend the kind of money for new product to be able to trade is crazy. So I am limited to a hanger or two a month if that (and that’s if I can find them). You also have people (not really on The Bench but on FB and eBay) that ridicule you if you’re not willing to buy their ridiculously marked up boxes or cards. So, the state of the hobby is that there is (in general) no more love of the game and players like it used to be. It’s basically a lottery where you buy a ton of boxes and then hope you get some hot numbered prospect that you sell and don’t even care about. This is not conducive for my generation and will not encourage kids to collect and love baseball cards and the sport. My two cents.
I completely agree. Growing up in the 70's and 80's I always had a passion for baseball. My parents bought my brother and I our first packs of cards when we moved to MN in the summer of 1980 (actually right around this time of the year.) I vividly remember Pulling a Don Money out of that first pack and finding it funny cause his last name was Money. (about 8 years ago I got to meet him at a signing and told him that the card he was signing was the first card I pulled from a pack.) First football card I remember in those first packs was Greg Coleman, which was cool cause he was a Vikings player. But the cool thing for me was being able to get those packs with allowance money, we got 10 bucks a month, and with cards only being 25 to 30 cents a pack, our collection grew quite quickly. Also watching games and connection those players on tv to the pictures on the cards, and learning about the game and the stats and everything pulled it all together for me. Now, that was just at the start of the insanity that would become the industry and as an 7 year old I really didn't care about values or that. We would build enormous card houses, play war games (build "battleships" with our cards and then go up to the basement steps and fire missles at them to destroy the ships. (those missles were Star Wars figures, most of which ended up losing their heads!) After the battles were over and all ships were destroyed we would go clean up the debris and if a card fell face down, that one died and was taken out of the battle. We also designed baseball, football, and hockey games with them and remember finding a 1982 Fleer Mike Schimidt with the imprint of of a die on the surface because it got hit with the "four" side too hard. I started to be more aware of condition and stuff in 84 or 85, but still look back fondly at those games and even did a few houses with my kids with junk wax era cards, but let me tell ya it's ALOT harder to build something like that with the new fangled glossy finish!
And yes, just like the kids in the 50's whose mom's threw away their cards and once prices started to climb were all like "Man I wish I still had those." Yes some of those original Star Wars figures are now very valuable, but they were Toys and we played with our toys.

To this day 41 years later, I still get the same rush, busting packs, building sets, and having a good time with the hobby. Yeah it's nice to get the Memorabilia card or Autograph, or refractor or whatever is hot, but yes I don't think the kids now a days will have the same love, and it's sad.

PS I have just started to use the money i make donating plasma to fuel my collection. Once you turn 18 maybe check into seeing if there is a donation center near you. Alot of places with offer between 700 to 1000 for your first month, and then lower the rates but have bonuses and stuff for regular donations. I have used CSL Plasma and BioLife, but there are tons that have popped up in the last few years.
 

Jamott50

Rookie
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I would like to chime in here. First of all, @Kirbyfan34 great idea on the donating plasm to fuel your hobby interest. I may need to look into that!

Secondly, I got back into the hobby simply because I love collecting cards. I like busting packs and since I've found trading sites like this one I really enjoy trading to build up my Bears collection. I enjoy the autographs and memorabilia card (more so the latter I think because I think it's cool to own something that was worn in an actual game!). I am definitely on a budget, however, and traditionally have only been able to afford the Blaster Boxes from Target when they were sold at $19.99/box. By the way, @SymphonicMetal I also go to the card shop with a want list.

I have also in the past enjoyed taking my boys into Target and stopping by the cards so that they could buy single hanger packs with their allowance.

The fact that my boys can no longer do that is honestly what makes me the most upset about this turn the hobby is taking. The overpriced product is ultimately hurting the kids who can't afford to spend that much. You all have touched on a lot of good points in this thread, and I am hopeful that the market will come back down to earth so that companies are able to begin releasing products again that appeal to kids, because I'm afraid if they are not able to do so then the hobby will eventually fizzle out, at least for the true collectors.

I don't know if I really contributed much, but just wanted to include my perspective.
 

dbacknate

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Love those stories. I am definitely going to do the plasma donation, where I am at you can get 600 bucks twice a month for two donations.
 

NYBBNUTT

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I guess I’m someone who is being priced out of the hobby. Very sad because I always enjoyed buying a couple of Topps flagship blaster boxes at local Target. Not possible now and relying on theBench for help but no idea if that will continue. Best wishes to everyone as they struggle through the current state of the hobby.
 

Kirbyfan34

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Another thing that I have noticed and, maybe it's just me, but as a kid and going to the Twins Winter Caravan, where I got my first signatures, Tim Laudner, Tony Oliva, and Herb Carneal, to going to TwinsFest and other such events, the autograph insert card seems to be a lot less personal to me. Me and friends did the ttm thing as kids also and got some really good responses. It just seems that players today give no thought to how their signature looks. Most just look like either Egyptian Hieroglyphics or a kindergartner's scribble. I've said it on here before but it bears repeating, Harmon Killebrew once threatened to walk out on signings, and have heard this story from three players (Kirby Puckett, Micheal Cuddyer, and Torii Hunter) if they didn't start taking some time and signing neater. Had gotten all 4 of those guys in person, and Harmon, by far was the classiest, spent time talking to myself, and sister in law while signing.
 

KCLJ520

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@dbacknate @SymphonicMetal @rlschles @Kirbyfan34 @Jamott50 @NYBBNUTT and everyone else above!!

Agree with so much of what you guys have said!! I was collecting in 1990 and remember how it was all of a sudden the "wait, what?" I remember stopping by my LCS on the way out of a haircut, and the shop didn't have any new packs, they had all been bought. I settled for some coins, which were still cool, my Grandfather bought them for me. Fun memory, but putting that back together, it was crazy how cards became commodities. I was 9 at the time, so didn't have the perspective until I got older. But yes, being priced out of the hobby, its a shame. None of my 3 kids are interested in cards in the slightest, though my middle son does like baseball and collects baseballs that he displays. So that is cool.

I went to the STL card show this past weekend, and agree, the prices were insane. I picked up a couple of pennants, a Stan Musial SGA statue, and a couple items to make custom cuts out of for a grand total of $20. I was pleased! My friend I went with was looking for unopened packs, and the prices for baseball and football were just out of this world. $380 a box, $415 a box, etc. Insane. Makes it such that young people dont even get interested or if they are, don't stay interested for long! I could pick up a pack of Topps cards for 50 cents in 1988, come on now! Times change, yes, I get that. Shame though that cards are priced only for those who are willing to cough up some serious money, and as previously stated, you are not getting an amazing amount of cards, or in my opinion, an amazing QUALITY of cards for the money.

I watched a break online a couple weeks ago, it was certified autographs (dont remember the exact product name). Every box promised HOFers, showing signatures on the box from greats such as DiMaggio, Williams, Mantle, Gehrig, etc. I watched the guy rip about 5 packs, and he ended up with about 3 Bobby Doerrs, a Bert Blyleven, and an Alan Trammell. The rest were common players, some little known names, and one or two guys I had even heard of. To me, not worth the cash! Disappointing to say the least, especially given the prices. I get everyone wants the big hit, but the guy doing the break had to be out the money, no way are you going to recoup your costs there!

This is a hobby, supposed to be fun. We make it that way here, which is why I love the Bench!

Blessings,

Kevin
 

richloughlin

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1,321
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I'm probably the granddaddy of the posters here, but I remember back in the mid 1960's, there were no jumbo packs or blaster boxes; much less a Target or Wal-Mart to buy them from. We mainly bought our cards from small candy and grocery stores in small packs (five cents for five cards). My Mom used to surprise me with a dime's worth of cards she bought home while coming home from work (guess where she bought them from?). Among our "insert cards" were a stick of gum, a coin, an embossed card or game card.

We traded them in our neighborhoods, flipped them on the playground. Players you didn't care for were used as temporary amusement in the spokes of your bicycle (for a penny a card, why not?). Once in awhile you'd hear someone from the neighborhood being able to complete a set. That was only possible by the fall; since cards came out in 7 or 8 - 100 card series (one every few weeks). That was probably the most affordable time a kid could participate in the hobby. Nobody mentioned rookie cards; and everyone had a chance to pull a Mantle, Mays, Koufax, Clemente, etc. from any random pack.

Many of you talk about the new card rage. Something similar happened back then. Early spring would roll around and all the kids were eager to buy the new Topps cards for the year. Every once in awhile a kid would come along; wanting to trade you cards from 1964 (the prior year) in exchange for the new 1965's. Kids would laugh at them and say, "no way am I trading newer cards for last year's cards." I was one of them; and I personally hate to think what opportunities I passed up to get a short print or star player card from the prior year.

I got back into the hobby 30 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I made with my free time. I'm lucky that I have a supportive wife; who understands that I still have a little bit of kid in me. She also jokes that if our house ever caught fire, she would know which room would go up in flames real quick (LOL!!). I guess we each have to enjoy this hobby in our own way and leave the speculation to the "pros."
 

Kirbyfan34

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I'm probably the granddaddy of the posters here, but I remember back in the mid 1960's, there were no jumbo packs or blaster boxes; much less a Target or Wal-Mart to buy them from. We mainly bought our cards from small candy and grocery stores in small packs (five cents for five cards). My Mom used to surprise me with a dime's worth of cards she bought home while coming home from work (guess where she bought them from?). Among our "insert cards" were a stick of gum, a coin, an embossed card or game card.

We traded them in our neighborhoods, flipped them on the playground. Players you didn't care for were used as temporary amusement in the spokes of your bicycle (for a penny a card, why not?). Once in awhile you'd hear someone from the neighborhood being able to complete a set. That was only possible by the fall; since cards came out in 7 or 8 - 100 card series (one every few weeks). That was probably the most affordable time a kid could participate in the hobby. Nobody mentioned rookie cards; and everyone had a chance to pull a Mantle, Mays, Koufax, Clemente, etc. from any random pack.

Many of you talk about the new card rage. Something similar happened back then. Early spring would roll around and all the kids were eager to buy the new Topps cards for the year. Every once in awhile a kid would come along; wanting to trade you cards from 1964 (the prior year) in exchange for the new 1965's. Kids would laugh at them and say, "no way am I trading newer cards for last year's cards." I was one of them; and I personally hate to think what opportunities I passed up to get a short print or star player card from the prior year.

I got back into the hobby 30 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I made with my free time. I'm lucky that I have a supportive wife; who understands that I still have a little bit of kid in me. She also jokes that if our house ever caught fire, she would know which room would go up in flames real quick (LOL!!). I guess we each have to enjoy this hobby in our own way and leave the speculation to the "pros."
I remember my neighbor saying that to me in 81. I saw he had the ever elusive John Castino rookie card. He was my favorite player at the time and I had not seen it...ever. he was just like "why you want last year's cards?"😂😂😂😂
 
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