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The baseball card bubble

In the 1980s and early 1990s, baseball cards became a popular investment. Prices increased to unsustainable levels, creating what we now call the baseball card bubble. And then, in 1993-1994, the bubble burst. The baseball card market crash affected some cards more than others but the overall effect was severe.

Here’s what happened and why.

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George Brett rookie card value

I grew up watching George Brett play baseball, so he’s one of my favorite players of all time. So it stands to reason that his 1975 Topps rookie card is one of my favorite baseball cards of all time. If you have one and you’re curious about George Brett rookie card value, I can give you an estimate.

George Brett was the greatest American League third baseman of his generation, and the fifth greatest of all time according to WAR. He starred for the Royals from 1973 to 1993, winning three batting titles, an MVP award, a gold glove, and making 13 All-Star appearances. He played his entire career for the Kansas City Royals.

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Baseball card brands

Baseball cards have existed in one form or another since at least 1863. Baseball cards really picked up steam in the late 19th century. And in the 20th century a large number of baseball card brands emerged.

Here’s a look at the most popular baseball card brands of all time.

Note: Many sets from before 1930 are known by Jefferson Burdick’s alphanumerical classification rather than brand. That’s why you won’t see many pre-1933 brands in this list.

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Rarest baseball cards – the Big Three

In baseball card circles, you sometimes hear about the “Big Three.” The Big Three aren’t necessarily the rarest baseball cards in existence, but they are exceedingly rare and they are part of extremely popular sets. This increases demand, since set collectors can’t have complete sets without these. There just aren’t enough of the Big Three to go around.

In addition, each of the Big Three have a great story behind them, often shrouded in some mystery.

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1933 Goudey baseball cards

1933 Goudey baseball cards are immensely popular with collectors. They weren’t the first baseball cards sold with gum, but the 240-card set was a landmark. It featured an attractive design, tons of star players, a size close to that of modern cards, and some big challenges.

It’s not hard to see why generations of collectors loved the set, and continue to do so. Collecting 1933 Goudey baseball cards takes money, patience, and imagination. Or at least two of the three. Yes, collectors of modest means who have patience and imagination can still collect Goudey, one of the most venerable of baseball card brands.

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WAR in baseball statistics

One of the new-school baseball statistics goes by the curious acronym of WAR. Here’s what WAR in baseball statistics means.

Essentially, WAR is an attempt to measure the value of a player more completely than traditional statistics. It’s more thorough and much harder to calculate than OPS, but these days, we do have computers readily available to help us calculate difficult statistics quickly.

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Al Pedrique: RBI Baseball mystery man

RBI Baseball was the first hugely popular baseball game to appear on the Nintendo NES. It featured real baseball teams who’d done well in 1986 and 1987 with actual player names, so kids could replay the 1986 and 1987 postseasons. It also featured two All-Star teams. The National League All Star team included a mystery man: Pedrique, a shortstop. His real life counterpart was Al Pedrique, who briefly played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Al Pedrique was the starting shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987, and the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004. Today people probably remember him best for his appearance in RBI Baseball.

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OPS in baseball statistics

Baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, attempts to quantify how good or bad a player is with statistics. Most baseball statistics only measure a small part of a player’s ability. One statistic that gained popularity in recent decades is On-base Plus Slugging, or OPS. Here’s an explanation of OPS in baseball and what it means.

OPS is the sum of a player’s on base percentage plus slugging percentage. Modern analysts argue it’s a better measure of a player’s ability than traditional stats like batting average or runs batted in.

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Most valuable baseball cards of the 1990s

Baseball cards were big in the 1980s, which led to overproduction and the baseball card bubble. That overproduction spilled over into the 1990s, and so did some of baseball’s scandals. Between that, and so many people buying and preserving cards during that decade, there aren’t a lot of super-valuable cards from the 1990s. But that doesn’t mean all 1990s baseball cards are worthless, and you’re more likely to find a stash from the ’90s than the ’70s. So let’s take a look at the most valuable baseball cards of the 1990s. The decade includes at least one big surprise.

The 1990s featured a number of exceptional players. And by late decade, the manufacturers had mostly sorted out their overproduction issues. Late 1990s cards also tend to be very attractive, with vivid colors and high quality photography. So the 1990s can be a nice decade to collect, even if the 1980s jaded you like it did me.

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