How much of a drag were baseball cards on Major League Baseball’s licensing profitability over the last decade? Let’s just say it’s OK to yell "we’re number one".
There was a time in the sports card industry when churning out new products seemed kind of exciting. Some say it took way too long to figure out it was actually the worst thing that could happen.
The market for new baseball cards–steady for years and even explosive at times–slowed to a crawl in recent years. Major League Baseball sent Donruss home from the party. When that didn’t help turn things around, Upper Deck’s 20-year run as an officially licensed maker came to an end.
Now, it’s back to the future. Topps is once again the only official partner and the licensing leaders in baseball have to be hoping their move to cut the number of products isn’t too little too late.
"We were drowning the retailer," said Howard Smith, MLB’s Senior Vice President of Licensing about the steady decline in sales over the last ten years. He offered up some revealing details on how why baseball felt it had no choice to get lean and mean and what their strategy is to save the modern card market in this Washington Times article.