The Baseball Card Collection in the Basement

Like many guys my age I have boxes and boxes of baseball cards stashed in a corner of the basement. Thanks to an exploding market that everyone my age dove into, plus the stories every dad told of grandma throwing away his Mickey Mantle rookie card, there is an incredible glut of late 1980s and early 1990s baseball cards.

Meaning all those pristine Topps, Donruss and Upper Deck baseball cards in the corner of my basement are worth about as much as the paper they’re printed on. Blogger Jason Kottke has been talking about baseball cards lately and pointed to a few blogs and articles bemoaning this trend.

Fortunately I bailed out of baseball cards in the early 1990s and dove into NASCAR. Which means I have a stack of nearly worthless racing cards next to my nearly worthless baseball cards, and I think that makes me just a little bit geekier. The best part is I have a bunch of autographed cards, encased in quarter-inch plastic mere hours after the drivers signed them, because at my young age I thought they’d be a goldmine. Sadly, several of those drivers are worse than has beens today, and I can tell you I didn’t get a single bite when I tried to ebay my Morgan Shepherd and Geoff Bodine autographed cards a year or two ago.

So if anybody is interested in late 1980s baseball cards with an emphasis on the Detroit Tigers or early 1990s racing cards–I’m your man. You want Alan Trammel? I’ve got Alan Trammell! Jack Morris before he turned traitor and joined the Minnesota Twins? I’ve got him. Lou Whitaker (Loooooou! Looooou!)? I’ve got him, too. Looking for memorabilia from the 1984 world series winning Detroit Tigers? I’ve got it. Even a baseball autographed by the entire team (which I somehow managed to win from the local Baskin & Robbins). I even have a collection of Washington Senators cards from the 1950s through the early 1970s when the moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. Just about everything in my collection of is worthless.

Though looking back I have to say I really like the look of the 1986 Topps cards. Maybe it’s sentimental bias because that’s the year I started, but design-wise they had a nice look. Not over-designed, but still unique.

And as Jason Kottke points out, it’d be fun to collect again. With the joy of ebay and a disposable income much greater than my $8/month allowance you could go back and complete some obscure set from the 1970s or 80s or whatever floats your boat. Too bad I just have no interest.

On the racing end I started with 1991 Maxx (we tried with 1990 Maxx but NASCAR was just beginning to reach into southeastern Michigan and those 1990 Maxx were hard to come by. I’ve got loads of Ford drivers, especially Mark Martin, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki and Sterling Marlin.

It’s kind of scary that all my childhood heroes are either washed up, dead or retired. (Technically Martin has half a season left until retirement, but since he was supposed to hang it up last year, he’s practically done. Though he’s the farthest thing from washed up. And it seems racing is a sorry sport to pick heroes since so many of them end up dead. Though none of my heroes actually died on the track. Kulwicki died in a plane crash and Allison in a helicopter crash.)

3 thoughts on “The Baseball Card Collection in the Basement”

  1. Wow, Desert Storm cards. That’s kinda twisted! What was the score on that war? ;-)

    See, here’s the beautiful thing: everyone will “realize” these cards are worthless and get rid of them, and then the people who aren’t paying attention and keep theirs will suddenly find they’re worth far more. I don’t plan on looking at or being conciously aware of my card collections for the next thirty years or so. By that time, the pack will be a bit thinner.

    I’d like to strongly encourage everyone to throw out all their cards. :-)

  2. I had those! They were kind of bizarre, though much of the coverage and reaction to war is often bizarre (anybody have a Desert Storm T-shirt?).

    I think I tried to ebay mine a few years ago with no luck.

    The only problem with hanging on to the card collection is that you have to take them with you wherever you go. I managed to leave mine in my parents’ house, but then they moved and forced me to take them with me. Now they’re sitting in my basement and I’m not looking forward to hauling them again.

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