DOES ANYONE BUY BASEBALL CARDS ANYMORE

Yes, the hobby of collecting baseball cards is still very popular today despite the many changes in the sports card industry over recent decades. While physical baseball card sales have declined significantly since their peak in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there remains a strong dedicated community of card collectors and enthusiasts.

Baseball cards first gained widespread popularity in the late 19th century as promotions included in cigarette packs. The rise of mass-produced cardboard cards in the 1930s help spread their popularity even further. In the post-World War II era, as baseball rose to become America’s pastime, collecting cards of favorite players also boomed. The late 1960s through the 1980s became the “golden age” of baseball cards as manufacturers produced massive print runs and virtually every child collected and traded cards.

Beginning in the early 1990s, several factors contributed to a steep decline in the baseball card market. Chief among them was overproduction and a subsequent crash in card values that soured many collectors. From 1991 to 1993, major manufacturers like Fleer, Topps, and Donruss printed far more cards than demand could support. Many of the rarest and most valuable cards from that era sold in dime stores for mere cents. With no scarcity or lucrative resale potential, the frenzy ended.

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Around this same time, new entertainment technologies also diverted kids attention away from cards. Video games, the internet, and streaming entertainment made dedicated card collecting seem outdated. And in the late 90s, high-profile sports memorabilia scandals further tarnished the industry’s image. Despite the downturn, local card shops across America managed to stay open thanks to a loyal customer base.

In the 2000s and 2010s, while print runs were smaller and the general public lost interest, passionate collectors remained as vibrant online communities sprang up. Websites like BaseballCardPedia, TradingCardDB and Blowout Forums allowed collectors worldwide to connect, research cards, and facilitate trades or group breaks of unopened boxes. Card shows, national conventions, and high-end auctions also continued apace. Although print runs were smaller, manufacturers like Topps, Panini, and Leaf focused on dedicated collectors through inserts, parallels, and limited edition products.

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Today, physical baseball card sales are a fraction of their peak but still total in the hundreds of millions per year according to industry estimates. Card shops are less common but dedicated brick-and-mortar and online retailers still cater to the market. While casual collecting has declined, hardcore fans dedicate themselves to completing particular sets or chasing rare vintage and modern rookie cards. Prominent modern rookie cards like those of superstars Mike Trout, Juan Soto, or Shohei Ohtani can sell for thousands of dollars. Iconic vintage stars like Mickey Mantle still move for over $1 million.

Card breaks remain popular online events where groups collectively open boxes, with hit cards allocated randomly. And collecting has expanded beyond paper to include valuable autograph relic cards, auto patches, event-worn memorabilia cards, and digital-only formats. Nostalgia for childhood hobbies also brings some former collectors back and introduces the activity to their own kids. Looking ahead, as today’s youth watch stars and collect in the digital age, non-fungible tokens and augmented reality tech may merge collecting and gameplay.

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In short, while the heyday of baseball card mass production and speculation is long past, a dedicated, connected community of serious collectors still thrives both online and at local shops and conventions. With a mix of nostalgia, fandom, investing, and community, baseball card collecting remains a popular American hobby. Valuable vintage cards continue appreciating substantially over time and new generations will likely find ways to connect through emerging technologies built around their favorite players, teams and memories. So in summary – yes, plenty of avid collectors still eagerly buy baseball cards despite the industry downturns.

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