In the past several months, with people staying home due to COVID-19, many of those same people went through personal items in attics and basements.
Found by many people were boxes of baseball cards which hadn’t been inventoried for many years. This has led to a boost in the baseball card collector business, and increased prices.
The values of baseball cards peaked in the early 1990s, and then went downward.
Demand for old baseball cards is the issue. If there is little demand, then the supply of baseball cards is greater than the demand.
“We all learned in our college economics class that when that happens, the price of a particular item will decrease,” says baseball author Steve Rosen.
The opposite can also take place. An example is the high demand for Mickey Mantle baseball cards from the 1950s and 1960s.
“Here’s a teachable moment to share with kids on the laws of supply and demand,” says Rosen. “It turns out that Topps baseball cards did not flood the market with Mantle cards in 1952. Add in the fact that Mantle remains a fan favorite, long after his death, and the math becomes simple.”
Younger readers may not know that, in the early 1960s, Mantle and his team, the New York Yankees, attracted close to 120,000 fans for a three-game weekend series at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, home of the Minnesota Twins.
The stadium was packed with 40,000 fans Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. In those days a teammate of Mantle was Fargo native Roger Maris who broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record in 1961.
Today a 1964 Mantle baseball card sells for as high as $200 and a 1964 Maris card, on the high end, goes for $119.
At the same time, a 1964 card of Harmon Killebrew, Minnesota Twins, sells for as low as $35. A higher quality Killebrew card, also from 1964, goes for $65.
This raises another point.
Baseball cards in good condition, from previous years, also will yield higher prices. Creases and bent corners will quickly decrease the value of baseball cards.
Back in the mid-1950s, when kids in Fergus Falls played sandlot baseball, the Milwaukee Braves were considered “our team” as far as major league baseball was concerned. This was before the Minnesota Twins commenced play, in 1961.
The star player for Milwaukee back then was Hank Aaron who eventually broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record after the team moved to Atlanta.
The memories of those good old days came to mind after hearing of Aaron’s passing on Jan. 22.
Today a Hank Aaron 1964 baseball card can be purchased from $10 on the low side, representing a card in poor condition, up to $83 for an Aaron card in good condition.
To those whose cards were tossed out
Over the years I have heard many stories about a son returning home and asking mom or dad about baseball cards collected as a youth. I say son, since not many girls collected baseball cards in the 1950s and 1960s.
Sadness and disappointment prevailed when the son found out that mom and dad had tossed away the cards, not realizing the value and sentimentality of those baseball cards.
My advice is to replace a few of those cards. Many of them, even cards of a few who were star players, can be purchased for reasonable costs.
As an example, a used 1972 Harmon Killebrew baseball card can be purchased for as low as $3 online. You can buy a 1965 home run card with photos of Killebrew, Mantle and Baltimore’s Boog Powell for $20.
Lastly, keep in mind that oftentimes baseball cards in a shoebox are not as valuable as one thinks. This should take the sting away for those whose cards were inadvertently tossed away.
Tom Hintgen is a longtime Daily Journal columnist. His column appears in the Weekend Edition.