You’re not alone in thinking that baseball cards are always the most valuable. Take a look at any most valuable cards lists and almost all, if not all of the cards on the list will be baseball cards.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the possible reasons why baseball cards are so valuable, starting with the very beginnings of sports card collecting…
Our initial thoughts regarding the reasons that baseball cards are often some of the most valuable was that they were simply the first cards produced, and as such they simply had the longest time to develop demand.
And at first glance, the theory definitely seems plausible, but there are a few reasons it may not hold up. For one, boxing cards were also first issued in the 1860s and we can’t think of any boxing cards that have made it into the top lists of valuable sports cards.
Additionally, Soccer cards were produced before both Basketball cards and Hockey cards, but both basketball and hockey cards have cards which have sold for values high enough to land them in top 20 lists for sports card sales, but soccer cards have not.
So, we need to approach it from a different angle.
The easiest way to compare popularity is to look at TV viewing records since 2005. Based on these numbers American football is the most popular by far, with 111.9m views.
Next on the list is Basketball with 30.8m views, Baseball with 40m views, Soccer with 27.3m views, and finally Ice Hockey with 27.6m views,
Based on these numbers, you’d think American football would be the most valuable, but football cards don’t dominate the top lists for value either!
So, perhaps we need to look at past popularity of the sports, after all, most of the top cards are from years past!
Looking back, we can only find anecdotal evidence, but most seem to consider baseball the most popular sport up until at least the 1960s. When looking at the sports cards which have sold for the highest value this certainly seems to be plausible as many of the most valuable cards are from these years.
In fact, only a few of the most valuable cards are from outside of these years, and those cards are a Wayne Gretzky Hockey card from 1979 and a Michael Jordan Basketball card from 1986.
So there certainly seems to be some correlation here - but perhaps there could be other factors. For example, why haven’t any modern cards sold for high values? Has interest in sports cards simply died off?
To put it plainly, no. Interest in sports cards hasn’t died off. In fact, it’s grown tremendously since the 90s. But, along with this growth we’ve had an increase in supply. So much so that the cards from the 90s are often some of the least valuable in the hobby.
So, it’s not just popularity, but also supplyand demand. Which explains why the cards from the 2000’s and 2010’s aren’t in the top lists of most valuable cards yet. Part of the reason that cards prior to the 90s are so valuable is that many have been lost or damaged.
Overtime, the number of pristine cards will decrease, as is only natural, making rare cards even rarer with the possibility for only a couple examples still being around. This means that there’s a strong chance that today’s cards will go on to be worth even more than the cards of the past, but it’ll only take time for that to occur.
So, with that in mind - the two main reasons that baseball cards are so valuable is the popularity of the sport through the 1960s and the fact that older cards are more likely to have fewer good condition examples after a large amount of time has passed.
Do you agree with our reasons or do you think there are different reasons for baseball cards value? Also which cards do you think will be most valuable 50 years from now? Let us know in the comments below.