The generation that grew up collecting baseball cards when the industry was booming in the mid-1980s through the early 90s was in for a rude awakening when they reached adulthood. The cards their parents hoped might pay their college tuition had actually decreased in value to the point where no card shop owner even wanted them. The stark realization has been the subject of hundreds of online articles over the last 15 years. Bloggers wrote about how much money they’d wasted. Mainstream media columnists and reporters wrote about the “collapse of the baseball card industry”. DOA in the digital age, they claimed.
Much of that is true, of course.
However, those statements overlook the complexity that grading has brought to the market and the lust some of those 80s and 90s kids have for the best, most difficult to locate cards from ‘their era’. They buy those ‘junk wax’ boxes with hopes of finding a few cards that will grade 9.5 or 10. They buy, sell and trade thanks to an exploding internet market with its supply of eBay listings, online shops, forums and Facebook groups.
The Motley Fool, a financial website, went a little deeper in its examination of the market, debunking for the general public the theory that no 80s and 90s cards are worth the cardboard they were printed on. You may not agree with everything in writer Jeff Hwang’s story and charts, but he does paint a more well-rounded picture of the industry as a whole.