The baseball card junk wax era refers to a period of time in the 1980s and 1990s when Topps and its competitors made far more cards than the market could absorb. Excruciatingly high demand prior to 1994 propped up prices somewhat, but prices did not recover after the 1994 baseball strike.
People argue about when the junk wax era started. It could be as early as 1981 but was certainly in full swing by 1987. The end was definite, in 1994, when players went on strike and Bud Selig, the acting commissioner of baseball, cancelled the World Series.
Anyone who collected baseball cards in the 1980s and 1990s knows how the hobby has changed. In the 80s and 90s, baseball card shops proliferated like vape shops, popping up anywhere there was empty real estate. New sets were released almost monthly. And then the bubble popped, leaving us to ask, when will baseball cards make a comeback?
I would argue that the parts of the hobby that are going to make a comeback already did. The reason 1980s and 1990s baseball cards aren’t coming back is complex, but there are several reasons why those cards probably will never be as valuable as they were at their peak.
When I was a kid, baseball cards were something everyone collected. Today, it’s an obscure hobby. So why collect baseball cards?
People collect cards for any number of reasons, including the thrill of finding a card when they least expect it, a relatively inexpensive means to enjoy the sport of baseball, and even, to a degree, to make money.
I had a commenter take me to task over understating the number of 1989 Donruss variations in another post. So I did more research. There are a larger number of variations floating around than I first stated. But there is no effect I can find in the value.
1989 Donruss variations hinge on the presence or absence of a period after the abbreviation “INC” and the number of asterisks in the line “DENOTES LED LEAGUE.” This makes for an interesting and (usually) inexpensive curiosity for completists to chase in an overproduction-era set, but it typically has no effect on the card’s value.
I came across a Youtube video claiming Alex Madrid’s 1989 Donruss baseball card is incredibly valuable. I checked Ebay and found seven listings for this card for over $10,000. Why is Alex Madrid’s baseball card so expensive?
Hoax is a strong word, but it’s a hoax. If the listings say anything at all about the card, they say it’s an error because the copyright says “Leaf Inc.” instead of “Donruss.” Others are just listing any 1989 Donruss Alex Madrid card they can find at a high price, thinking it’s incredibly rare and expensive. It’s not. There are legitimately valuable cards from the 80s and 90s, but the “Alex Madrid error card” isn’t anything special.
No company worked harder to get into the baseball card market than Fleer. The inventor of bubble gum wasn’t able to get into the baseball card market for good until 1981. Sadly, Fleer went defunct in 2005 after being mostly an also-ran to Topps in value and interest. But here’s a look back at the most valuable Fleer baseball cards.
Fleer had a hard-luck existence in the baseball card market and it got worse after the baseball card bubble burst. But it had some great stories, especially in its early years. The stories behind the cards are often what makes the hobby fun.
What are the best baseball cards to invest in? The ones you don’t mind keeping if you lose money on them. But cynicism aside, here are the caveats to investing in collectibles. There are worse things to invest in. Like cryptocurrency.
The best baseball cards to invest in tend to be vintage cards of superstars. High-grade cards of high-tier Hall of Famers tend to do especially well. But if superstar cards are out of reach, you can still do well with exceptionally high-grade cards from popular vintage sets, such as 1952 Topps or 1933 Goudey, since collectors building high-grade complete sets need the common cards too.
For St. Louisans of a certain age, Stan Musial was almost as famous for his restaurant as he was for what he could do with a baseball bat. Musial and his business partner, Julius “Biggie” Garagnani operated a steakhouse near Musial’s residence. In 1949 he sold a half share to Musial and they renamed it Stan Musial and Biggie’s.
Stan Musial had a storied career in St. Louis. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and spent his whole career with the Cardinals. In 1947 he even played with a failing appendix. He lived a very public life both during and after his baseball career. His various businesses contributed to that public life, but they also made him wealthy.
People make mistakes sometimes. People who work for baseball card companies are no exception. As a result, a baseball error cards appear from time to time. Some hobbyists enjoy collecting baseball error cards and even specialize in it, so here’s a list of some of the more famous or well-known error cards.