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Baseball Card Exchange

Ramblings: Buying at the Dip

We received quite a bit of feedback to yesterday’s Ramblings on the 20th anniversary of the baseball strike and the effects on both the sport as well as the hobby.  Which player do you think got hurt the worst by the strike?  Tony Gwynn’s pursuit of .400? A strong contender but in my opinion, it was Fred McGriff.  Why? Consider that the strike may well have cost him reaching the 500 career homer mark and a possible induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Rich Ramblings 2014And if McGriff had made the Hall of Fame, would his 1986 Donruss Rated Rookie card be worth any more than it is today? Fred McGriff rookieWould we remember him for more than being in that Tom Emanski commercial which seemingly ran throughout the entire 1990′s?  Just remember, McGriff gave that video his full endorsement. At least you never heard Fred McGriff named in any of the rumors about steroids and his career did follow a fairly normal path.  He was always the type of player I liked and to me the type of player who was worth buying on a long-term plan but without the Hall, you’ll probably still be able to grab a mint, graded example for under $15.

When we talk about baseball’s dark winter of 1994, there were quite a few collectors who saw it as a good time to purchase cards at what they believed were ridiculously low prices. Two of today’s leading dealers mentioned on my Facebook page about how great the buying was during that time frame. And to me, that showed tremendous foresight because in many ways buying is even easier in a down market as opposed to a rising one.

Mickey Mantle 1952 ToppsThat may sound counter-intuitive but it is a reality if you really think about that. If you were involved in the hobby during the first major boom circa 1979-80, you remember how the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card sold at public auctions for upwards of $3,000 and thus many collectors tried to cash in with typical results in terms of lowering prices. I still remember sitting in at several public auctions when the 52 Topps Mantle struggled to reach $500 and the early 50′s Bowman commons were easy at $1 per in nice condition.  If you had the foresight to buy those Mantles at the dip in those days, you probably would not need anything else for your retirement at this point.

In the 2013 market, how many of you are buying Bryce Harper?  Would you wager on him making a comeback and having a much better year in 2015?  I almost guarantee that will happen and I would bet Yasiel Puig will hit between 25-30 homers next year (if not more).  As far as I remember in the past 30 years, every player but Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter have had their dips and if you don’t follow the herd mentality, I would say you probably had a chance to either make some nice money or build a nice collection.

Of course, I still have some Pete Incaviglia and Ruben Sierra rookies.  I’m sure they’ll be bouncing back any day, right?

About Rich Klein

Rich Klein has spent almost his entire life collecting baseball cards having begun at the tender age of seven. He has spent more than three decades in the organized hobby including editing the first 12 editions of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Card and Collectibles. He lives in Plano, TX along with his wife Dena and their two dogs. You can reach him at [email protected].

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