Baseball Card packsBy Jeff (Lorenzoneal)

In today’s hobby of sports card collecting, each individual has their own incentives for collecting cards. Some people do it just as a hobby that they enjoy. Others see it as an investment opportunity. Personally, I collect cards based more on sentimental value than monetary value. Being young, I don’t have the kind of disposable income that other collectors do. When I go online and see people posting their case breaks, it absolutely blows my mind. For me, spending over a thousand dollars on a case of cards is not even remotely close to being a possibility.

As I stated, a lot of my collecting is for sentimental reasons. I love being able to open up an old box or binder filled with cards and looking at each of the players and remembering those players’ careers. The stats on the back of a card can only say so much about what a player means to his team, organization, city, and fans. Collecting cards of players from my childhood allows me to reminisce about what those players did and how valuable they were to their team.

One of the thrills of my method of collecting is going on garage sale or flea market searches. Part of the fun is discovering a stand with a variety of cards. Just browsing through the cards can give me chills as memories run wild through my thoughts. Usually I will pick up a few things that intrigue me and won’t break the bank. Occasionally, I will find a great deal that I just can’t pass up. Due to mass production in the 1990’s, it hasn’t been very difficult to find my favorite players and other stars from when I was younger. As easy as it has been to find them, it has been even cheaper to purchase them. Many cards can be had for a penny or less if you get them in bulk.

Something that I feel adds sentimental (and potentially monetary) value to cards is getting them autographed. Whether in-person or through the mail, autographs add a personal touch to a card. The signature of a player on one of your cards gives you the feeling that you own a piece of that person’s history and legacy. I don’t need a Certificate of Authenticity to tell me that Player X signed my card. If I had the card signed in-person, I have the wonderful memory of meeting that individual player to remind me that they signed it. That experience alone is worth more than what any price guide or professional appraisal will tell me my card is worth.

The high prices of so many new releases make it impossible for someone with my kind of income to make a serious investment in trading cards of any type. I remember going to the concession stand after my little league baseball games and purchasing quality packs of cards for only a dollar. If someone tried to get a product for that price today, it would not be nearly as good. The only stuff that is sold for a dollar is bottom of the barrel retail packs that yield little more than base cards. As one who does not care too much about re-sell value of my cards, packs like this don’t bother me. Unfortunately, people who are on a tight budget but want to make a lot of money from cards only have a slim chance of being able to do so. Sure there are lucky guys who buy a few packs and pull a 1/1, but for every person that does that, there are thousands who don’t. Instead, these people often pull something that is not worth nearly as much as the hard earned money they spent.

With licensing issues and smaller card companies being bought out, the likelihood of cheaper products being produced is not great. For those who are on a smaller budget like I am, I suggest just enjoying what you are able to purchase. Just because you don’t have a Mark Sanchez rookie patch auto doesn’t mean that you can’t get a base card signed by him in-person or through the mail. When you are older and showing off your cards to your grand kids, they likely won’t care about much more than the fact you have his autograph on a card. I advise that no matter how you choose to collect, make it fun for yourself and others.