Admit it. You’ll take the books. The clothes are OK. The video game? Sure. The gift certificates? Whatever. But they’re not really what you want are they? You’d really prefer there be nothing under the Christmas tree except baseball cards this year, don’t you?
Sometimes, it’s hard to express just exactly what you want, though. Especially to a non-collector. Fear not. Here are some cool things you can ask for that shouldn’t be all that hard to find.
Of course, it all depends on the budget of the person buying the present, but there are options here for a variety of bank accounts. If you’re the shopper, we’ve made it easy for you to find the best gifts for baseball card collectors. Just click the links to see them.
A vintage Babe Ruth card. More than six decades after he left the building, The Babe is still the Elvis of baseball cards. None of them are cheap, but if you don’t own one, it’s time. If you do own one—or more—you can never have enough Ruth cards in your stash. They never go down in value and just holding one in your hands is a thrill. Even if you have to settle for a low-grade example of one of his more common or less popular issues, put it on your list. You won’t regret it.
A 1915 Cracker Jack card. Far more common than its 1914 brother, the ’15 Cracker Jack is still a dandy. A truly All-American baseball card. You can find a nice Hall of Famer in mid-to-lower grade for less than you might think if you shop around. Awesome.
A Hughie Jennings card. Who’s Hughie? A lawyer who also happened to be a Hall of Fame worthy player and manager. Most ballplayers back in the early 1900s looked like life was getting the better of them. Hughie was having a blast. He stood in the third base coaching box and yelled “EEE-yahhh!” to try to start rallies. He’s pictured on several baseball cards doing exactly that. His images seem totally out of character for the era. Owning Cobb or Matty is fine. Owning a Hughie is just fun…and affordable.
A Jackie Robinson card. They’re supposed to be little pieces of history. That’s why we keep them. Few cards are really important, though. Jackie cards are. Robinsons aren’t cheap, but if there’s no way you’re getting a rookie, someone can find you a later example for $150-250. Already have one? Ask for a nicer one…or a different one.
A high-grade 1952 Topps card. You might never be able to afford this set. You could build a lower grade one, but it’ll still cost quite a bit. Pick out a player you like or a card you like and buy the best one you can afford. It’ll hold value, it represents the beginning of the Topps era and it’s going to be pretty to look at. Who wouldn’t be excited to find a 1952 Topps card under the tree?
The newest box of baseball cards. New products have hit the shelves in the last couple of weeks. What else are you going to open until spring? Even if you don’t collect newer cards, checking out current products keeps you at least a little in touch with the current market. It’s like having 24 presents instead of one.
One vintage unopened pack. If you still can’t wrap your arms around current issues, put a vintage pack on your list. Chances are the value of what you pulled out won’t equal the price of the pack, but it’ll still be fun. Recommendations? 1975 Topps or Topps minis seem to be fairly affordable and the set is loaded with Hall of Famers and rookies. Even cello packs aren’t that expensive. If your Santa has deep pockets, go for something in the ‘60s.
A Diamond Stars card. One of the most affordable pre-WW II sets you can buy. The cool art deco look takes you right back to that era. The Pepper Martin card casts a Gashouse Gang glow and you can find one for under $100.
An Ichiro rookie card. He’ll be the first Japanese player in the Hall of Fame. Before that, he’ll own a boatload of records even though his American career didn’t start until he was a veteran player. A one-of-a-kind talent who we still don’t fully appreciate. Look at the back of his cards (the ones with the career stats) and you will. One of the greatest players of our time.
A 1964 Topps Giants set. Yes, there’s a bit of a glut on the market, even 46 years later. So what. Cheap, gorgeous, old and unique? What’s not to like? This is one set where condition matters. Ask for a set… or a few Hall of Famers to get you started. Then go out and buy some oversized sleeves to hold them.
Vintage wrappers and display boxes. Most kids threw them away. Not everyone cares. That’s why you can buy a decades-old wrapper for less than any big name star card in the set. Stick a couple in the albums with your complete sets, though, and you’ve just increased the cool factor by about 500%.
Books. There are some great coffee table guides and compilations on sports cards. Collecting Sports Legends: The Ultimate Hobby Guide is a few years old, but a really good one.
Supplies. Boring? Maybe. But isn’t it nice to let someone else pay for them for once? If you’re concerned Santa may not know his or her Diamond Stars from a diamond necklace, supplies like card savers or storage boxes are usually a safe bet.
And sometimes they’ll feel compelled to put something in them.