Baseball card resurgence in popularity a big hit with collectors
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- A resurgence in the popularity of baseball cards, as well as cards from other sports, over the past couple of years is proving to be a big hit with collectors.
"It's similar to what happened in the late 1980's when everything exploded and everybody got into it,” said Curt Miller, Sportscard Fantasy's owner. "It's actually been amazing the resurgence after all these years. More and more kids are getting into it and everybody from all walks of life are starting to get into it.”
Miller, the longtime owner of the sports card and merchandise store in the Santa Maria Town Center mall, has been in the baseball card business for decades.
While much of his shop is devoted to sports merchandise, with jerseys and hats among his most popular items, in the far back, there is a wide collection of sports cards of all varieties, especially baseball.
"To me, it's all nostalgia,” said Miller. “I remember as a kid, going to the dime store and giving them my nickel and getting a pack of cards and that piece of gum, and when you're a kid, everything is good. You don't have problems as kids. It's good times. It's Little League and playing with your buddies and collecting baseball cards and having sleepovers and that kind of thing, so to me, and for a lot of people, it's nostalgia.”
Miller added he has seen a noticeable rise in interest in card collecting over the past few years, which aligns with the upwards trend of the card business since the onset of the pandemic.
"We had a renewed interest due to Covid due to the collectors going through their collections,” said Lance Gonzales, Sports Dugout Arroyo Grande owner. “"They had extra time. Time they could go look at their collection. They were reviewing their collections, going in and seeing their cards and seeing the values, realizing a lot of cards went up over the years, things that they put away 20 years ago, now have tripled or quadrupled in value and it created a big interest."
Gonzales has owned his sports memorabilia store in the Village of Arroyo Grande the past seven years, after taking over one Miller owned.
He too has seen a significant rise in the popularity of the baseball and sports card industry, especially with newcomers.
"Youngers, from seven, eight, nine, 10 to 70-year-olds,” said Gonzales. “Everybody has had an interest in baseball. Aaron Judge set a record this year for home runs. It just brought renewed interest. Ohtani, hitting and batting. No one has done that in the last 50 years besides Babe Ruth."
Baseball cards have actually been around for more than 150 years, but in terms of value, the industry at an all-time high.
In August, a 1952 Mickey Mantle card sold an an auction for a record-breaking $12.6 million.
With many prized cards are worth hundreds, thousands, and sometimes even millions of dollars, card collecting is definitely more than just a hobby as it was for past generations.
“Today, it's more for the investment,” said Miller. “The vintage stuff skyrocketed, especially in higher grade and some of the newer cards are the ones that amaze me."
The price of the Mantle card suggests the market for baseball cards is quite healthy and will likely remain so well into the future.
"The old vintage items are going to continue to increase in price and value and some of the new superstars that are going to come up in value,” said Gonzales.