Tips for Navigating the (Sometimes) Overwhelming World of Sports Cards
Updated: Apr 11
My dad was a big baseball card collector. I remember him telling me all about the players he grew up watching and showing me their cards when I was a kid. Naturally, I followed suit and started to build my own collection. I didn't know the value of the cards and I certainly didn't care, I just wanted to collect all my favorite players. As I grew up, I collected a bit less frequently, mostly just buying packs here and there from my local card store. When I decided to really get back into collecting, both as a hobby and as an investment, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. The market was so much larger and totally different than when I had left. It took me years to gain the knowledge I needed to survive and thrive in this hobby. As someone with firsthand experience of how daunting this can be, I felt compelled to share some tips that I wish I had known when I was re-entering the hobby. That's where this guide comes in. Hopefully, this guide helps make the process of collecting sports cards easier and more enjoyable.
Understanding the Sports Card Market
Know the Products
One of the most important things to understand about the sports card market is the role that product plays in a card's value. For example, an NBA Hoops card is, generally speaking, worth far less than a National Treasures NBA card. This difference in value is generally signaled by the difference in box price, however, if you are buying individual cards you may not have the luxury of seeing the box prices. So, it is crucial to understand the products before you go spending your hard earned money on an NBA Hoops base card.
Know the Sport
It is also extremely helpful to be knowledgeable about the sport that you are investing in. Knowing the players and teams that are popular, as well as the current trends in the market, will help you make informed decisions when it comes to buying and trading cards. For example, a casual observer may not realize that the Oklahoma City Thunder have two rookies on their teams named Jaylin Williams and Jalen Williams. Jalen cards are worth much more than Jaylin cards, but I would bet that a lot of collectors mistakenly bought the wrong card because they did not know better. This is an extreme example as one team having two rookies with nearly identical names is quite unlikely, but I think it is a good representation of why it is important to be knowledgeable about the sport. All of this is not meant to dissuade, but rather to implore all you collectors to make informed decisions.
Some of the greatest players cards will have value no matter what. However, in general, rookie cards reign supreme in the sports card market. A rookie card is a card from a player's first season in their respective league. When a rookie is having a great first year their cards value can skyrocket. Knowing when a rookie card is released and what products it can be found in is key to making a good investment. Brock Purdy is a perfect illustration of why this is important. Since he was "Mr. Irrelevant" in this year's draft, his cards were not included in every release. An unseasoned collector may not know that and might be hunting for his cards in boxes where they simply do not exist.
Keep Track of Your Collection
It is important to keep track of your collection and stay organized. This can be done in a variety of ways, from physical binders to online tracking services. Keeping an accurate record of what you own will help you make sure that you are not buying a card twice, as well as keep track of the value of your cards.
Keeping track of your cards also helps in case of an improbable breakout by a player. While most are aware when they own a highly touted prospects card, there are those who give up on players too soon and may not even remember owning their cards.
Join a Community
Finally, join a community of sports card collectors. It is important to stay on top of the news in the hobby, and talking to other collectors can help you do that. You may even make some new friends. Shameless plug here, I recommend joining the 528 community. Collectors who join us have access to a wide selection of breaks and boxes at competitive prices, as well as a community of fellow collectors to connect with and learn from.
Also, box breaks in general are a great way to get started in the hobby and build your collection. You can hit some amazing cards at some very affordable prices. Plus, it is so much more than just watching someone open a box of cards. It's an interactive and engaging experience. Our community of collectors and hobbyists makes each break fun and exciting, with lively discussions and friendly banter. You'll feel like you're a part of something special when you join the 528 family.
So, there you have it. I know how overwhelming this all can be at times, but when done right it really can be both a fun hobby and a wise investment. Understanding the market, knowing the sport, keeping track of your collection, and joining a community are all important aspects to consider when entering or re-entering the hobby. It may seem daunting at first, but with patience, knowledge, and a bit of luck, you can build a collection that brings you joy and maybe even some financial gain. I hope these tips are able to help you in your card collecting journey. Remember, collecting sports cards is ultimately about enjoying the game and the players you love, so have fun and happy collecting!
About 528 Collectibles
528 Collectibles is a one-stop-shop for all things collectibles, memorabilia, and trading cards. Our mission is to provide collectors with the best possible experience by offering a wide variety of products, exceptional customer service, and a welcoming community of collectors. Whether you're looking to buy, sell, trade, or participate in live box breaks, we have you covered. We also offer pre-grading services for trading cards and consignment options for all collectibles. With a passion for all things collectible and a commitment to customer satisfaction, 528 Collectibles is the ultimate destination for collectors.