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.

KANSAS CITY ROYALS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
KANSAS CITY ROYALS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
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LOS ANGELES ANGELS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
LOS ANGELES ANGELS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
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2017 Bowman Chrome Baseball Factory Sealed HTA Choice Box 3 Autos Sept 27
2017 Bowman Chrome Baseball Factory Sealed HTA Choice Box 3 Autos Sept 27
$98.95 (1 Bid)
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TAMPA BAY RAYS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
TAMPA BAY RAYS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
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1987 & 1990 Topps Baseball Traded Series Box Factory Set  Complete
1987 & 1990 Topps Baseball Traded Series Box Factory Set Complete
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1990 BOWMAN BASEBALL - COMPLETE SET - 528 CARDS - FACTORY SEALED - THOMAS RC
1990 BOWMAN BASEBALL - COMPLETE SET - 528 CARDS - FACTORY SEALED - THOMAS RC
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TEXAS RANGERS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
TEXAS RANGERS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
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LOS ANGELES DODGERS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
LOS ANGELES DODGERS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
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TORONTO BLUE JAYS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
TORONTO BLUE JAYS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
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MIAMI MARLINS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
MIAMI MARLINS 2017 Topps Clearly Authentic Autograph Hobby 1BOX Break
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1993 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Series 1 Factory Sealed Wax Box with 24 packs
1993 Topps Stadium Club Baseball Series 1 Factory Sealed Wax Box with 24 packs
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WASHINGTON NATIONALS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
WASHINGTON NATIONALS 2015 Topps STRATA BASEBALL Hobby 1BOX Break
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