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.

The 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.

2014 TOPPS HERITAGE BASEBALL CARDS HOBBY FACTORY SEALED BOX
2014 TOPPS HERITAGE BASEBALL CARDS HOBBY FACTORY SEALED BOX
$68.00 (17 Bids)
Time Remaining: 34m
1997 Donruss Collector Kit 12 unopened packs in sealed box
1997 Donruss Collector Kit 12 unopened packs in sealed box
$15.99
Time Remaining: 35m
Buy It Now for only: $25.99
1991 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOXES  TWO BOXES
1991 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOXES TWO BOXES
$30.95
Time Remaining: 35m
1992 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOX  HIGH SERIES
1992 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOX HIGH SERIES
$20.95
Time Remaining: 35m
1993-94 TOPPS NBA BASKETBALL CARDS COMPLETE SET SERIES 1 AND 2 BOX (NBA Licensed
1993-94 TOPPS NBA BASKETBALL CARDS COMPLETE SET SERIES 1 AND 2 BOX (NBA Licensed
$15.99
Time Remaining: 36m
1990 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOX
1990 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOX
$25.95
Time Remaining: 38m
1993 FLEER ULTRA SERIES 2 BASEBALL SEALED BOX
1993 FLEER ULTRA SERIES 2 BASEBALL SEALED BOX
$20.95
Time Remaining: 38m
1992 FLEER BASEBALL SEALED BOX
1992 FLEER BASEBALL SEALED BOX
$17.95
Time Remaining: 38m
1990 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOXES  TWO LOW NUMBERS
1990 UPPER DECK BASEBALL BOXES TWO LOW NUMBERS
$40.95
Time Remaining: 38m
1992 SCORE PINNACLE BASEBALL SERIES 1 & 2 BOXES
1992 SCORE PINNACLE BASEBALL SERIES 1 & 2 BOXES
$34.95
Time Remaining: 38m
1989 SCORE BASEBALL BOXES
1989 SCORE BASEBALL BOXES
$27.95
Time Remaining: 38m
1990 BOWMAN BASEBALL SEALED 2 BOXES
1990 BOWMAN BASEBALL SEALED 2 BOXES
$28.95
Time Remaining: 38m

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