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.

2012 PLATINUM FACTORY SEALED BOWMAN 8 PACK BOX LOOK for AUTOGRAPHS
2012 PLATINUM FACTORY SEALED BOWMAN 8 PACK BOX LOOK for AUTOGRAPHS
$9.79 (5 Bids)
Time Remaining: 30m
2012 LEAF DRAFT YOUNG STARS FOOTBALL 20-PACK BOX (2 AUTOS/BOX)
2012 LEAF DRAFT YOUNG STARS FOOTBALL 20-PACK BOX (2 AUTOS/BOX)
$18.95
Time Remaining: 30m
Buy It Now for only: $18.95
Ivan Rodriguez 2001 Donruss Fan Club #209 (Short Print 1 per box)  Texas Rangers
Ivan Rodriguez 2001 Donruss Fan Club #209 (Short Print 1 per box) Texas Rangers
$1.25
Time Remaining: 31m
2013 TOPPS CHROME FACTORY SEALED BASEBALL BLASTER BOX 7 PACKS + 1 REFRACTOR PACK
2013 TOPPS CHROME FACTORY SEALED BASEBALL BLASTER BOX 7 PACKS + 1 REFRACTOR PACK
$12.19 (6 Bids)
Time Remaining: 32m
2013 PLATINUM FACTORY SEALED BOWMAN 8 PACK BOX LOOK for PUIG AUTOGRAPH
2013 PLATINUM FACTORY SEALED BOWMAN 8 PACK BOX LOOK for PUIG AUTOGRAPH
$13.50 (8 Bids)
Time Remaining: 33m
Upper Deck Baseball 2007 Series Two factory sealed box
Upper Deck Baseball 2007 Series Two factory sealed box
$20.99
Time Remaining: 33m
Buy It Now for only: $60.99
2012 Topps Opening Day Baseball 36-pack Box 2-Box Lot
2012 Topps Opening Day Baseball 36-pack Box 2-Box Lot
$27.95
Time Remaining: 34m
Buy It Now for only: $27.95
2012 PANINI COOPERSTOWN Baseball 8-Pack BLASTER BOX*FAMOUS MOMENT'S SIGNATURES*
2012 PANINI COOPERSTOWN Baseball 8-Pack BLASTER BOX*FAMOUS MOMENT'S SIGNATURES*
$5.59 (5 Bids)
Time Remaining: 34m
1987 Topps Baseball Unopend New Box
1987 Topps Baseball Unopend New Box
$9.99
Time Remaining: 35m
SPORTS CARD LOT BOXED 70'S FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL SOME AUTOGRAPHED
SPORTS CARD LOT BOXED 70'S FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL SOME AUTOGRAPHED
$12.25
Time Remaining: 35m
Buy It Now for only: $12.25
2013 FACTORY SEALED PANINI COOPERSTOWN*Baseball Box*WITH CRYSTAL SHARD PARALLELS
2013 FACTORY SEALED PANINI COOPERSTOWN*Baseball Box*WITH CRYSTAL SHARD PARALLELS
$11.50 (9 Bids)
Time Remaining: 36m
2012 UPPER DECK GOODWIN CHAMPIONS FACTORY SEALED BOX*12 PACKS with 4 CARDS PER*
2012 UPPER DECK GOODWIN CHAMPIONS FACTORY SEALED BOX*12 PACKS with 4 CARDS PER*
$6.75 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 38m

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