I talk about this on my podcast a lot. It’s about doing the exact opposite of what everyone is doing. Why? Because that is where you will find the best deals. You are always trying to buy low and sell high but to buy when everyone else is buying doesn’t make sense. To find the best deals you need to be smarter than everyone else and look where no one else is looking.
If you listen to my podcast you’ll know I am a gigantic New York Jets fan and I want to buy PSA 10 Sam Donarld Panini Prism rookie cards, but when I started to get into football cards the prices were already too high at around $120 to me the pricing was on par with Baker Mayfield prices and he had done a little bit more than Sam Donald did in 2018. This was not the buying opportunity I had to wait. So when Sam Darnold contracted mono I saw this as a buying opportunity. I still wasn’t patient enough but I was able to buy multiple cards for less than $80, some as low as $60. This is when you buy, you buy when the market is going down. He wasn’t playing poorly he didn’t do anything wrong he just got sick and that presented a buying opportunity.
The same can be said for 2018 topps update. Their was a run on hobby and jumbo boxes because of how much the Ronald Acuna Jr. base rookie cards was going for in a PSA 10 as well as having Gleyber Torres and Juan Soto rookie card. PSA 10 Acuna Jr cards were going for as high as $175. So all these people were buying these boxes and opening them up to try and get these cards. What did they do with the rest of those cards? The buying opportunity is in buying the rest of those cards because people are just trying to get rid of them. They are trying to recoup whatever money they can after chasing Acuna Jr, Juan Soto, and Gleyber Torres. You should be able to buy an Austin Meadows, Ohtani, or any other inserts for a much cheaper cost then what is typical because people will be a lot more supply.
The same can go for seasons, right now you should start looking for deals for baseball cards because it’s the end of the season. You should start looking for players and teams that didn’t make the playoffs. Their will be buying opportunities through out the end of the year and in January and even in February. You should be also able to buy football cards starting with teams out of the playoff hunt and around March thru July. There will be an uptick around draft time.
Doing the opposite of what everyone is doing is where you can find the best deals and make the most money from flipping. If you keep buying during the off-season of each sport you live steady supply of cards to sell and make money. Now buy some cards and go broke.
I collect sports cards, or at least I think I do. 😕
When I was much younger, there were basically three companies that made baseball cards – Topps, Donruss and Fleer. All through the Ronald Reagan Presidency I could count on those companies producing one set of cards (plus update) each year. I knew where to find cards and what to look for to complete the sets. I knew what to expect, and I was happy about all of this!
Rickey and Raines. Rose and Ryan. Darryl and Dwight. Mark and Clark. Horner and Murphy. These were star players during my teenage years. Saw them all play. I knew I wanted to be like them one day, so I did the next best thing – I collected all their cards.
Check me out from April 1982!
But this all changed in the late 1980s – early 1990s, Bowman and Leaf began producing cards again, followed by new guys – Upper Deck, Score, Sportflix, and some other companies I have long since forgotten. By this point (1994-ish) life got in the way, so I stopped collecting for almost 25 years.
About ten months ago, I found my cards again.They were upstairs in a storage room full of long-forgotten stuff. One evening, I started looking through them, and two hours later the interest to collect had returned. The cards were still organized in cardboard boxes and three-ring binders. Reggie. Hank. Roberto. Thurman. Lemke. MY guys! MY cards! Virtually untouched for more than 20 years. I even found a Beckett guide from May 1993 (Greg Maddux!). That evening I was not yet sure what I was going to do with the collection, but then …
(📸: Paul Katcher, Target near Fenway)
… a few days later I happened to be in a local Target near the checkout aisles and saw tons of boxes and packs on the shelf. (Very similar to Paul’s photo above.) What I saw actually confused me. I chuckled because I did not recognize what I was looking at except I knew they were baseball cards manufactured by Topps. There were so many different sets and packs. (Series 1. Series 2. Heritage. Chrome. Bowman. Allen & Ginter. Archives. So many!) I bought 3-4 different packs, not really knowing what I was buying at the time. My enthusiasm to collect had returned, but I had no direction or focus on how to do it! I felt a little like Nuke LaLoosh – full of potential, but in need of lots of coaching in a hurry. (“Well, he really hit the sh@! outta that one, didn’t he?” Love Crash, but that will have to hold for another day.)
Once I got home and ripped open the packs, I went to the Internet to figure out what I had purchased. I recognized most of the players (Judge, Scherzer, Altuve, and a few other recognizables) because I am an avid baseball fan, but I truly didn’t know any values or what was preferred from each pack.
The more I read, the more I became confused. An actual headache found me, so I went to bed. Prior to purchasing those few packs, I had not read much of anything on the Internet, joined any Facebook groups, or really been involved in the modern hobby. Although I had grown up going to local card shops in several cities, I had not been in a store since the early 1990s. (A quick Google search showed there are currently only five card stores in the entire state of Alabama.) I recall there being more than a dozen when I was a teenager. This is what I was used to seeing in local card shops…
(📷: Tyler Nay)
During the following few weeks I found Facebook groups, podcasts, and YouTube channels so I could catch up with the modern hobby. Too much, too soon! However, one of the best things I learned in those first few weeks was to start focusing on what my collection goals would become. Since my entire collection at that time was vintage and raw (For hobby terms and other thoughts about getting (re)started :Tips on Getting Back into Sports Card Collecting), I decided to stay in my comfort zone with older cards. I learned the importance of slabbed cards and found the current prices in the eBay sold section. I also really like many of the modern cards, so I also focus on just the ones I really like. Since I am a lifelong Braves fan, I now concentrate on their current stars and prospects. Also, with the White Sox AA squad (Birmingham Barons) in my hometown, I focus on these players, too.
Here is where I really made my move into the hobby …
I soon learned how to list and sell cards on eBay. However, I quickly realized I did not like the monthly eBay tax bill, so I created an Instagram page (BudsBallCards) to sell my cards. While I still purchase cards through eBay, I sell through IG. There are pros (no tax, easier to list and communicate) and cons (no auctions, smaller marketplace, less protection from shady deals) on IG, but since I started the page in June, I am pleased with it so far. Ball card listings and trades on IG are growing, and so is my page. I have averaged 5-6 sales each month and have reached almost 500 followers. Slow and steady – I am in no hurry. Consistency is the key. Regularly listing cards. Interacting with others. Commenting on their comments. Deleting the negative posts. Using IG Highlights and Stories, combined with the occasional video, have helped increase the page’s presence in a rapidly growing market. Since many pages I have seen concentrate on the popularity of modern cards with their inserts, autos, numbered relics, etc., I have pivoted in a different direction. The majority of my page (and collection) targets vintage raw cards. While I am adding more graded cards as they roll in from PSA, 90% of what I have is ungraded. I do throw in some hot modern cards, but that really is not my main focus. I am just trying to stand out a little bit.
My education during the past several months has largely come from joining hobby-related Facebook groups and subscribing to podcasts and YouTube channels that focus on collecting. I quickly learned that some FB groups are filled with some really mean spirited folks who are quick to criticize when basic collecting questions are asked. (I did not stay in those groups very long. Who needs that garbage?) My main group is hosted by David Reyes from New York. I happened upon his page (SVA Card Collectors) in February. David is quick to tell you that he recently returned to the hobby and wanted to create a page where others can learn about collecting without being harassed or intimidated. I visit this page daily and have made some new friends (and trades!) from around the country. I interviewed David a few months ago, and he shared some strategies about getting back into collecting (David Reyes). David also has a podcast that is growing. In between sips of (no sponsor) coffee, each morning David shares his research, insight, and thoughts about collecting.
One great thing about YouTube videos is that I get to see the newest cards hitting the market when hosts hold “breaks”–when sealed cases, boxes or packs are opened on video. Viewers often can buy into the break (by purchasing packs for x$ per pack that the breaker offers the viewers) and see cards being opened in the live video. Breaks have become very popular and have helped to modernize and rejuvenate the hobby. Watch a bunch of these breaks to get an idea of how they work. It’s like playing the lottery – you never know when a pack will contain the next Trout or Zion auto rookie!
I have also begun visiting my LCS (local card shop). Mike with All Star Sports Cards Emporium near downtown Birmingham is a great fellow and is quick to discuss anything and everything card related! He recently hosted a trade night that was a lot of fun. My next goal is to attend a regional card show, and hopefully The National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City next summer. The national convention hosts a few thousand dealers over most of a week when 200k+ people attend.
If you have read this far …
… thank you. There is so much to share, but this has gone on long enough. I am enthusiastic about the hobby. It seems I am in a fast growing community. I hope to interact with you sometime. Please find me!
IG: BudsBallCards / I’m just a fan back in the hobby. Go Braves!
I started to go thru the 2019 Topps Update checklist and was less than enthused. But what was I really expecting? I knew Yordan Alvarez wasn’t going to be in this set, he will be in 2020 Topps Series 1. So, who are the players to collect in the 2019 Topps update set and which cards are we still all in on in 2019 Topps Series 2?
I am really talking about base cards to collect, buy, invest in. I don’t feel that their autograph cards are the ones people truly want, Bowman proudly carries that torch.
2019 Topps Update
Here is a group of players who’s rookie cards first appear in Topps Update.
Cavan Biggio (Blue Jays) , Austin Riley (Braves), Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Nick Senzel (Reds), Brendan Rodgers (Rockies), Keston Hiura (Brewers), Carter Kieboom (Nationals), Mike Yastrzemski (Giants).
I am a big fan of Keston Hiura and Cavan Biggio. So is everyone else. These will be the two rookie cards that you should go after. If you are not buying hobby, jumbo, or blaster boxes; you should buy lots of these cards in November and December when prices go down.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a rookie card, but he also has a rookie card in Series 2. The series 2 version is a short print, but how short is still being debated. There are definitely less Vladimir Guerrero Jr. series 2 cards then a typical base card for the set. But will Vladimir Guerrero Jr. update card act the same as Ronald Acuna Jr. Update? If he plays up to his potential then we are definitely looking at something similar.
If next season , Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has a break out year, these boxes can be flipped for big profit. We saw 2018 topps update cards at clearance aisles in Walmart and Target around Christmas time. I would allow some money to buy boxes and blasters to hold for August/September 2020.
There are no Pete Alonso, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Eloy Jimenez base rookie cards. They all have rookie debut cards which doesn’t have a high resale value. Alonso has an all-star card and a home run derby card. But these players all have autograph cards and inserts. For example, Alonso has 25 different cards in the set whether it’s an insert or autograph. The insert I like the most is the 1984 topps insert either the auto and non auto versions.
2019 Topps Series 2
The biggest cards to get is Pete Alonso, Fernando Tatis Jr., Eloy Jimenez, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. base rookie cards. There is nothing in Update that will be investment worthy for Alonso, Tatis Jr., or Jimenez with regards to their base cards. Buying lots of these cards and getting them graded will yield the best results.
Yusei Kikuchi rookie card has a short print and a super short print. But he really pitched poorly this year and he is older than a typical rookie, 28. However, if he turns things around these cards could get real expensive because of how rare they are. Might be a buy low and pray type of card.
They all have 1984 Topps base and autograph versions in Series 2 and also in Topps Update. That should be fun to figure out which one is what. Silly, but true. However, I do feel that these insert cards are collectible and you can flip to make money. I think grading the autograph versions of the 1984 inserts will make your the most money, that is for both Series 2 and Update.
What I think?
I believe Topps Series 2 will be the “flagship” set to collect. You have a limited version of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Rookie Cards of Pete Alonso, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Eloy Jimenez. I feel that these rookie cards will outshine Cavan Biggio, Nick Senzel, Keston Hiuru, and the rest of the crew. Thank God I can revise my own posts so if the opposite is the case I can change it up and say, “No! I didn’t say it!”. Lol.
Wow! Collecting cards is not like it was when I was 12 years old! Why is this fun hobby so difficult to figure out? I need help!*
See if this resonates with you a little…
You collected as a kid, but then life got in the way – school, college, marriage, kids, work, whatever. Thankfully, your mother (or spouse) did not throw out your collection (like my mother did in 1976 which contained Mantle, Aaron, May, Clemente!). You recently found your cards, and now you have some free time (and a little bit of money) to get back into the hobby. Looking through those favorite cards (no rubber bands!) has piqued your curiosity, and now you want to get back into the hobby. You googled “collecting baseball cards,” but then your head exploded! Yup. Happens every time.
We have all been there. For me, I took a break for almost 20 years (see above) until I recently jumped back in. I am loving it again! Beginning almost a year ago, I reviewed my collection and started reading online about what’s happening in the hobby. Holy smokes! The hobby now is so different. Graded cards. Raw cards. Vintage cards. Modern cards. Slabbed. Breaks. Relics. Trimming. Junk Wax Era. Blaster and Monster boxes. What are these terms? I did not understand the new lingo! I love baseball, but the hobby had left me way behind!
When you first get back into collecting, it can be like trying to drink from a fire hose. Not fun, confusing and frustrating. This article will hopefully ease your fears as you get back into collecting and trading.
Social Media is a game changer.
Monthly print price guides and local card shops (LCS) were important when you last were collecting. They are still important, but social media has changed the way the hobby reaches its audience. YouTube breaks (learned the new lingo yet?). EBay stores, solds, and auctions. Buy it Now. Make an Offer. Instagram pages. Facebook groups. Daily podcasts (Check out SVA Card Collecting Podcast) Blog articles. Grading companies. Online pricing guides. All of these entities make up the modern card collecting experience. And through these social media platforms, collectors now can immediately view their favorite cards. Pay online. Never meet the seller. And a day or two later receive the precious purchase in the mail.
However, … too much of a good thing can be too much. Way too much.
What is your collecting plan?
Ask yourself – Why do I collect? Have you evaluated your collecting goals? Try to focus on what interests you – favorite players or teams or sets or trading company.
Are you collecting to maintain a personal collection? Is this your way of connecting with the sport you love so much? Are you sharing your hobby with your children, spouse, siblings or friends? Collecting can be such a fun multi-generational experience. Are you out to make money by flipping? Are you in it for the hunt and quick score? In short, determine your goals first.
If you jump back in too soon and without a plan, you could be spending way too much money on cards that are not worth it – financially or sentimentally. Learn how eBay works. Do you know about eBay bucks? You should. I cannot stress enough how important it is to learn who you are dealing with online. Most sellers are honest and great for the hobby. However, if you have read any of the hobby news in the past year, you will learn that there are some shady characters out there. Big time. Look up the seller’s eBay ratings, read reviews, ask others. Join Facebook groups that discuss these topics. Learn this new version of the hobby from those who have experience. SVA Card Collectors Facebook group is a great resource. See above for link.
You have figured out your plan, but what about your budget?
Unless you are Gary Vee or have an unlimited budget, try not to chase everything that looks shiny and new! Some cards are very expensive, and you might not yet know why. Print guides have their place, but they are not really useful for current information. For the card you are interested in, go to eBay sold section and use other online tools to determine the most recent comparable prices.
The prices of cards, much like the stock market, can fluctuate. Here’s a quick example … A starting veteran quarterback goes out for the season with an injury, and now the young backup is the starter. The youngster’s cards will spike until his on-the-field-play is evaluated. Knowing when to buy and when to sell can make a big difference.
(📷 cred: dubmentality)
Junk Wax Era (JWE is late 1980s to early 1990s) cards will not likely make you much money. Unless your cards are graded as 9s or 10s, selling in bulk or even donating them to non-profits might be the best way to get rid of your thousands and thousands of worthless cards. (One quick example: 1989 Donruss KGjr raw sharp looking card might go for less than $10. However, a PSA 10 of the same card is currently selling for about $300.) Making money trading cards is not easy. So many people are online trying to do the same thing you are attempting. If you create an online store or page, figure out your niche so that you can begin to build a specific audience. This will take lots of time and patience. Lots. Below is the front of my Instagram page – BudsBallCards.
There is also a big difference in buying or selling graded (slabbed) and ungraded (raw) cards, see above example. The price of a raw card is more subjective and typically carries less value then the graded version. There are several grading services – some are better than others – and you need to learn how they operate and the reputation of each.
Ungraded (raw) card. Graded (slabbed) card.
Find your local card shop!
Local card shops are a dying breed. There used to be thousands of them around the country, particularly during the height of the JWE. Most of them closed many years ago. However, some of these shops are still around and should be supported! How many of you remember visiting your LCS to hang out, meet fellow collectors, shoot the s**t, and pick up some new cards? I try to help my LCS as much as I can. I have purchased some nice single cards there recently. I do not mind paying a little more there than what I would pay on eBay. One advantage of purchasing cards at the LCS is that you can examine the cards up close in your hands. You cannot do that on the internet! I also buy all my supplies there even though I could buy them in bulk more cheaply online. I recently went to a trading card night at my LCS. We had a great time and I got some nice cards!
I could go on and on about this awesome hobby – there is so much to write about. Just try not to be overwhelmed. Take it slowly. Enjoy what you are doing. But, most of all … have fun!
Thanks for reading!
IG: BudsBallCards / I’m just a fan back in the hobby. Go Braves!
*You are going to make mistakes. We all do. Cut yourself some slack. Do research. Have fun!
There were many lessons learned from the Junk Wax era. The 89 Fleer set may have inadvertently stumbled upon an important self-regulation tactic that is common in the modern era of card collecting: Variations and Parallels.
The 1989 set had its share of Hall of Famers and stars. Set right in the middle of the Junk Wax era, there is no shortage of these cards floating around and every 35+ year old’s mom’s basement. There are 3 cards (3 types of cards) that survived the “Card Armageddon” of the 90’s a little bit better than their peers: Randy Johnson #381, Billy Ripken #616, and Ken Griffey Jr. #548.
Randy Johnson’s 1989 Fleer card has as many as 11 and as few as 3 variations. Currently, PSA breaks these out into 4 or 5 different types:
In addition, there is an extremely rare (or just newly recognized) “Tinted Green” with a population count of 2:
You can still find the general “1989 Fleer Randy Johnson #381”, however these are seem to be only found in the old PSA holder and are most likely the least desirable “Ad Completely Blacked Out”:
Avg PSA 10 Price
Ad Completely Blacked Out
Ad Partially Obscured
Marlboro Ad on Scoreboard
Marlboro Sign Tinted Green
Want to Buy a 1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Marlboro Cards?
It remains to be seen if PSA will continue to separate the card into more “ad variations”, which allows for interesting prospecting proposal in the dollar bins at your local card shops and shows. There is a backstory and you can go down a rabbit hole of discussion and analysis of the Marlboro Ad on the card. However if you do come across one, take an extra second and look at the top right of the card and you might find a limited parallel of a Randy Johnson rookie card. If you are unsure about Johnson’s legendary credentials you can get caught up here.
The Billy Ripken #616 card adds another interesting feature to the set, the story has been “clarified” since the news first broke in early 1989. It might be the most infamous card of the Junk Wax era and has its own set of variations:
Avg PSA 10 Price
Black Box Over Error
Black Scribble Over Error
Scribbled Out in White
Whited Out Vulgarity
Just like the Johnson card, there seems to be many different variations that are yet to be recognized by grading companies. The count is up to at least eleven according to http://billripken.com . As much as the Bill Ripken gets the attention of the set, the timing of the print run may prove to be real indicator of value/rarity in the set. According to eBay listings, the FF error was printed as late as 1/19/89. This is generally corroborated with billripken.com, which dates 1/17/89 as the date.
To round out the most valuable cards in the set, there is a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card. While it’s not the iconic Griffey rookie from the 89 Upper Deck set, it is a somewhat rare PSA 10 card.
There is about an 8.15% gem mint rate on the card and the average auction selling price (excluding PWCC) has gone up about 166% in the last 2 years.
Put this into perspective across the most popular Griffey base rookie cards, see the below population reports for Upper Deck #1, Topps Traded #41T, Donruss #33, Bowman #220, and Score Traded #100T:
Until we can nail down a value formula for these cards based on factors such as total cards graded, gem mint rate, and nostalgia premium to find undervalued cards, we are just going to have to use a relative value approach. The gem mint rate is on the lower end compared to its 1989 base set counterparts.
Gem Rate %
89 Upper Deck #1
89 Topps Traded #41T
89 Donruss #33
89 Fleer #548
89 Bowman #220
89 Score traded #100T
So to wrap all this up, if you want to take the plunge or just relive some childhood nostalgia, what is the best approach? You can find single packs as cheap as $2-3 and boxes (36 packs) for $60.00 on eBay. However, the real opportunity may reside in the boxes/cases that are known to be printed before the errors were corrected. You can search by error box or case and there are listings that “guarantee” an error print. This will obviously more than double or triple the price of the box or case. The detective work and research is yet to be found on the most worthwhile print run overlap of a rare Johnson variation and a Ripken Error card. Therefore, the timing of the print run of the Ripken error paired with the Johnson variation could be worth a gamble.
This set is one of my favorite sets of all time. The black border with the horizontal pictures made it such a good looking card. I have all of the major cards in the set. Now thinking I was a savy collector I knew I kept them in pristine condition. But when I went to my house to pick up my riches I was disappointed big time. As I sat alone weeping I then wanted to dig more into how much I really lost.
So should you invest in this year. Yes! Why? Head over the PSA to check the pop reports and you will understand why. Out of the 45, 295 cards that have been graded 4,800 have been graded as PSA 10. So it’s around 10.5% of all graded cards are graded as PSA 10! Because of this you have some common cards selling anywhere from $50 to $250! The one thing about this is their are many cards with only a handful of PSA 10. But the more that come into population the lower the price will become.
So this set has 396 cards. Their is only one big name rookie and his name is Warren Moon! His PSA 10 goes for around $400.00.
The wax box has 36 packs with 15 cards, 1 sticker, and 1 piece of gum. So you would get 540 cards per box. That means you should get an entire set from a box. However you will have to subtract at least 36 cards because of damage the gum will do to the cards. Should you take the risk or Let some one else? Right now a BBCE (baseball card exchange) box which ensures that the box hasn’t been searched goes for $500.00.
The other notable rookies are Irving Fryar, who was found guilty of mortgage fraud, Chicago Bear great Richard Dent, Mike Munchak, and Mark Clayton from the Miami Dolphins. Mark Clayton and Mark Duper used to cause me fits as a Jet fan and they were really good in Tecmo Super Bowl too.
Now you also have 2nd year cards for Dan Marino and John Elway. As well as Walter Payton, Joe Montana, and Eric Dickerson. These cards go for a lot of money.
Joe Montana PSA 10 are going for a little over $400.00. There are 56 psa 10.
One of the problems is that their are not a lot of PSA 10’s for sale. If they are they are priced extremely high. If they go to auction and their was a low amount of PSA 10’s it will go pretty high compared to other year commons.
Now there are more cards that go for a lot of money, but here are some of the more common players that still go for big dollars in a PSA 10.
UWE Von Schamann – PSA 10 – $219.00 – Only 3 PSA 10’s
In conclusion, I love this set but collecting a set in psa 10 will be nearly impossible and expensive. You can find these cards in PSA 9’s and their price in most cases are much much much, yes 3 much’s cheaper. Happy Hunting and buy some cards and go broke!
1st official Zion rookie card. This will be the hottest cards on the market. 6 autographs and 30 inserts per box. 18 cards per pack, 6 packs per box, 12 boxes per case. $295.00 per box, most over $300.
This is an extremely popular set. If you are thinking of buying them – order presale for the cheapest prices. You can click the link below to buy the cheapest box. Hobby Box – 5 cards per pack, 12 packs per master box (2 mini boxes) comes with 2 autographs per master box. Please make sure you buy 1 master box and not 1 mini box. $150.00 per hobby box.
One of the biggest questions I’ve been getting recently in the baseball card world is which box do I have to buy to get a Ronald Acuna Jr. Rookie card. Bat up is where, bat down is what? Their are so many sets. Collectors see rookie card and they literally don’t know which hobby box to buy and get them. So I decided to fix that. Here are some of the main Ronald Acuna Jr. rookie cards in the great year of 2018.
2018 Topps Update US#250 – This is called the bat up card. If you buy a hobby box you should get at least one of these cards. Popular card because people can actually get these in a box.