A valuable proposition

To me, one of the most nebulous words in the sports collecting hobby is “value”. Is value something akin to those halcyon days in the late 1980’s when just opening a pack seemed to guarantee you a profit? Or is value something that you think you can sell for more than the cost of the pack or box on EBay? Or is value the sheer enjoyment of opening a pack or a box and enjoying the contents?

shoppingDepending on who you are, any of those scenarios or countless others seem to indicate value to the end user. Why am I writing about value? Well, you see, I recently opened some “retail” boxes of both Topps Holiday baseball as well as the holiday version of Topps Archives baseball.  The Topps Holiday box promised one relic, autograph or autograph relic card for a $19.95 cost while the Topps Archives box promised one autograph for a $24.95 cost.

Having opened countless review boxes during my time at both Beckett and Sports Collectors Daily, one great aspect was in almost every case one received whatever was promised in the box. In my seven years of writing reviews, only twice did I not receive what was promised and both times Topps Chrome Football was involved. I don’t know why I was jinxed on that issue.  Both times the issue was rectified but it made for some interesting give and take.

So, we will continue with the premise of receiving what is promised in a box with the caveat we know it is possible to miss the promised goal. I don’t know about you but in today’s hobby world one is rarely guaranteed four hits in their $80 box. Now, products such as Topps Heritage which is $74.25 at my local card store promises exactly one hit per box. Now, I grant you there are other goodies in each hobby box such as tough series, variations and inserts but still one hit is far less than four.

shopping-1And I can not think of any product from a major manufacturer which guarantees four autographs for an $100 bill.  Yes, I get that you might get better players from a hobby box but that is not a guarantee. I remember with the review of one Allen and Ginter box, some poster on Facebook lamented how Rich never got anything good. Well, that specific box had two Alex Avila relic cards and some other similar player for a real world value of $5 or so. But I did receive what was promised so the chance for money value was there and Allen and Ginter always has some great quirks and interesting cards so I did not feel so bad about what I received.

But for value, what would rather receive. the enjoyment of opening a box and seeing what interesting cards and players are inside or hoping you get the latest Mike Trout autograph card serial numbered to 25 or less. I don’t know about you, but as long as I receive what is promised, I’m happy with the value of the cards out of the packs.  However, the beauty of the hobby is there is room for me and room for those people who only care about money and even those collectors who only want base cards because they are happy building inexpensive sets. We’d love to hear what your preference is.

Rich Klein is a free lance writer based in Plano Texas and can be reached at Sabrgeek@aol.com

















Author: sabrgeek

Rich Klein is a free lance writer living in Plano Tx, with his wife and 2 wonderful dogs. He can be reached at Sabrgeek@aol.com

6 thoughts on “A valuable proposition”

  1. I truly avoid buying anything these days that I do not intend to personally keep. I enjoyed opening new card boxes from about ’90 to ’01 or so. As time went on I wanted to feel more connected to BB history. Value in a BB card for me today is about pride of ownership and occasionally spending time with it. The quirkier and the older the better. The more difficult to find – the more satisfying.


  2. Place me in the “only want base cards because they are happy building inexpensive sets” category. I’d do cartwheels if another low end set was put out that was more comprehensive than Opening Day or Topps Bunt. I guess I miss the days of Topps Total and UD 40Man.
    I’ll chase some more expensive singles for my player collections, but when it comes to busting a box I’ve never paid more than $80, and that’s with the intent of building the set from scratch. When I find the hits I hold on to them as trade fodder to help complete my set or to send to someone else for something that fits in my collection.
    I like to think I’m not alone in my collecting style, but I’m a realist and understand card companies aren’t making a profit from collectors like myself and ultimately they have to do what’s good for their bottom line (e.g. Topps Mint and $25,000 brief cases of cards).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post – let’s have a broader assessment of value as it seems to me there is an obsession with the eBay culture, yet there is a quiet
    majority that genuinely enjoy “staring at a card for hours”. I am definitely not a seller – I collect. I want a collection that my daughter will enjoy one day and be proud of – in that her Father spent a lot of time and resources invested in to be of “value” – not to sell, not to break up and sell in pieces, but simply be a source of pride for an activity that inspires responsibility in what collecting is.
    Another thought is that value is such a subjective interpretation – I focus my emotion and pride on players, teams and years. For example, I started collecting as a kid at 10 in ’81 and so finishing that set is a key source of pride and attention now for me.

    I am glad this blog tackled the varying levels of value – it’s an important debate and showcases how diverse us collectors are – that’s a good thing!

    David Gourlay


  4. To me, the value proposition in baseball cards comes from the fun of collecting (the chase, the organization, the looking at old photos), interacting with other collectors (whether in person, on Twitter, on blogs, or by commenting on blogs), and the historical aspects of the players and the cards themselves.

    Value to me is getting cards for my Brewers and Milwaukee Braves collections. That means I don’t open many packs these days because Topps does not feature many Brewers in their sets except Heritage and the Flagship.

    Of course, that means that I tend to get most of my cards from the “secondary” market through trades and eBay and shows rather than by buying boxes. So, I appreciate folks that buy the boxes and sell off the scraps to people like me.


  5. I wonder if anyone else has a similar “value” style to mine. Perhaps it’s a bit of mental accounting.

    I buy boxes and online. Perhaps a little differently than the other commenters, I will buy some higher dollar product. Partly it’s a version of playing the lottery (and still having something when “losing”), and partly it’s a version of having hands on experience learning about the product (what are all of those different parallel set configurations in Bowman whatever) so that when I buy lots online or at shows with a variety of cards I know what to look for. Just yesterday I opened a box of 1998 Pinnacle (okay, not really high dollar), and learned that there are 3 different backs (complete stats, home stats, and away stats). While it is made very clear that 1998 Pinnacle has 3 different backs in baseballcardpedia, I would likely not have realized that had I not bought the product (and now I need to look through my Mets collection and player collections to see what I actually have). Opening high dollar packs also gives me a better shot at some cards I wouldn’t normally think about buying – I’ve actually pulled Trout, Harper, and Bryant autographs, but, lest you think I’m the luckiest person alive, I did get two Tyler Skaggs cards out of a box of Triple Threads and an Erisbel Arruebarrena out of Topps Supreme.

    As for value, I consider the cards I pulled out of packs to be “mine” and value them more than I would if the same card came in a lot. Maybe it’s telling the story about the two Tyler Skaggs cards that makes them more valuable to me, but when I open a box all cards go into their respective places in “my” collection, even if I have no intention of putting the set together. If I buy a lot online there is typically a reason (I need a card or cards from the lot), but the cards that I don’t need for player/Mets/set building purposes go into the boxes of “completely unorganized stuff that I should sell one day.” I have no reservations about putting any of the stuff I get in lots online to sell, yet, for some reason, it’s more difficult to part with a pack pulled card. And when buying lots I pay much more attention to the resale value of the cards I don’t need in the lot, as the entire point is to cut down the cost on the cards I want for my collection from the lot. But I’m less concerned about getting a dollar-for-dollar return when I buy a box.


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