History of Baseball Cards

The oldest and most popular category of sports trading cards; baseball cards have been produced since the late 1860’s. Originally included in packs of chewing gum, tobacco, and cigarettes as a marketing tool; baseball cards were not mass produced until the 1930’s.  The early tobacco cards are among the most collectible cards in the sports collectible hobby, due both to their age and scarcity.  The 1933 Goudey set is considered by collectors to be one of the first mass produced baseball card sets, and features the first cards for some of the game’s greatest stars: Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  The 1934 Goudey set is smaller, but also very popular.

1962 Jello Mickey Mantle cardThe production of baseball cards declined during the Second World War, but exploded again in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. Between 1948 and 1955, the baseball card industry was dominated by the Topps and Bowman companies. The rivalry ended in 1955 when Topps purchased Bowman in a dispute primarily over Bowman’s exclusive contract with Mickey Mantle.  Topps essentially monopolized the industry until the early 1980’s, with only limited competition from companies such as Fleer and Leaf.

Fleer sued Topps over Topps’ exclusive agreements with Major League Baseball and in 1981, Fleer and new company, Donruss, re-entered the baseball card industry. Combined with an explosion of interest in the hobby, the arrival of new competition (including Upper Deck in 1990) spurred what has been dubbed the “Age of Overproduction.”   The value of baseball cards declined drastically as the market was flooded with new sets.

In the late 1990’s, with a declining customer base and sagging card prices, card companies began including ‘memorabilia cards’ in their sets, featuring game-used pieces of jerseys, bats, gloves, and even bases. These insert cards have been largely responsible for revitalizing interest in the hobby. In late 2009, Major League Baseball signed an exclusive contract with Topps, granting Topps the sole right to use MLB team logos. The long-term effects of this contract on the industry remain to be determined.

2001 Fleer Tradition Hobby Exclusive Baseball Cards - Sealed Box
2001 Fleer Tradition Hobby Exclusive Baseball Cards - Sealed Box
$34.50
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $34.50
2001 Topps Major League Baseball Cards - Sealed Box
2001 Topps Major League Baseball Cards - Sealed Box
$34.50
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $34.50
1961 Post Cereal #38 BOX  Frank Lary  Handcut from Cere VG L1993
1961 Post Cereal #38 BOX Frank Lary Handcut from Cere VG L1993
$4.00
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $4.00
1961 Post Cereal #66 BOX  Bob Wilson Handcut from Cerea VG L2086
1961 Post Cereal #66 BOX Bob Wilson Handcut from Cerea VG L2086
$2.40
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $2.40
1990 score rookies traded baseball  sealed box
1990 score rookies traded baseball sealed box
$6.99
Time Remaining: 38m
Donruss pop up box of cards baseball
Donruss pop up box of cards baseball
$6.99
Time Remaining: 38m
1992 ARENA KEN GRIFFEY
1992 ARENA KEN GRIFFEY "KID GRIFF" HOLOGRAMS box
$6.99
Time Remaining: 38m
1991 score rookies traded baseball  sealed box
1991 score rookies traded baseball sealed box
$6.99
Time Remaining: 38m
MLB 2014 Series 2 Baseball Retail Card 24-Pack Box
MLB 2014 Series 2 Baseball Retail Card 24-Pack Box
$59.25
Time Remaining: 42m
Buy It Now for only: $59.25
1986 TOPPS STARS, MINOR STARS ETC.BULK LOT SET - 31 CARDS - PLASTIC BOX INCLUDED
1986 TOPPS STARS, MINOR STARS ETC.BULK LOT SET - 31 CARDS - PLASTIC BOX INCLUDED
$4.99
Time Remaining: 45m
Buy It Now for only: $4.99
2 1981 Topps Baseball Wax Packs From Box
2 1981 Topps Baseball Wax Packs From Box
$5.50 (4 Bids)
Time Remaining: 45m
1983 Topps Baseball Wax Pack From Box
1983 Topps Baseball Wax Pack From Box
$2.25 (3 Bids)
Time Remaining: 45m

« Previous12345...89