Category Archives: Moneygrams to Mexico

How much is my baseball card collection worth?

Part 7 in a series chronicling the One Sorry Blog Baseball Card Sell-Off
By Paul Rivas

Editor’s note: One Sorry Blog founder Paul Rivas is selling off his baseball cards on ebay with seller name onesorryblog, keeping only a precious and worthless few. He intends to sell every last card that will bring money at auction and donate the remaining 30,000 for no tax break. Realizing that his last hurrah in the hobby is upon him, Rivas is recording and reflecting on the experience at One Sorry Blog, the thinking collector’s blog.

It was in Nicaragua, the country that gave you Dennis Martinez. We were in the last days of the big schlep. Clare had flown home with her Network TV Slut of a sister. I had risen at 5:00 a.m., a good hour or two later than the hours at which I would be asked to rise for the next two days’ buses to San Salvador and then Tapachula. Alone on my last night in Managua, I watched my first American football game of the season, Monday Night Pats at Ravens. I decided to start rooting hard for the Patriots to go undefeated and my Randy Moss rookie cards to be hot at $100 apiece. There followed some thoughts on what I would do for money when I got back to the U.S., and what I would do with all the stuff that I had stored around the county and forgotten about in my two years living in South America. By the time the Pats had pulled it out, I’d decided that slashing 30,000 cards would clean out the closets and bring a few dollars at the same time.

In Santa Barbara, two months, 95 auctions, three private sales and $1163 later, the Nicaragua story is laughable. The Pats slothed it in the Super Bowl, the Moss cards are the only ones I haven’t reclaimed from consignment at the card shop to auction on ebay, and a visit with a friend has served to remind me that 30,000 ain’t even that many: Rob, who has commented on this series, keeps 70,000 1987 Topps.

Dude’s got fourteen 5000-count monster boxes of 87 Topps. Think about what that means for my unopened wax box of the stuff. No good. Garnett cards are hot now, good. Kobe scoring 100 before I list my last ten of his rookie cards, also good. But a 96 Score Cal Ripken #2131 1:100,000,000 packs only brings $0.99? No good. I had dedicated a line or two in this limited edition blog (you are 1:120, one of only 120 readers per day) to how that card was the best card I ever got out of a pack and how I got it in the last pack I ever bought at Great American Baseball Cards. The card was on ebay seven days and inspired $0.99 (49p UK) in bids. How many 12-year-olds made mint condition Leaf sets in 1990 in Santa Barbara? That should make my 1990 Leaf set 1 of 1 or 2, tops, right? And if it is the only one, why shouldn’t the first and best 1990 Leaf set ever assembled by a Santa Barbara 12-year-old command a premium? Here I have the answer to the question of the year: How much is my baseball card collection worth?

86 Donruss Canseco rookie? $7.50. 85 Topps McGwire Olympic rookie professionally graded NM-MT? $10.50. Two (2) mint 87 Fleer Bonds rookies? $23.50. What surprised me is how I couldn’t find anything bad to say about a market such as the current one, a market in which a graded 95 Bowman Andruw Jones NM-MT is only worth $5.50. Who’s Andruw Jones? That card shouldn’t be worth money! Neither should elementary school kids have to spend four years’ allowance to get a nice Canseco rookie! I have no problem with a world in which a mint 93 SP Jeter is $132.50 and a 94 SP A-Rod PSA 8 is $127.50. I say cheap Cansecos for the kids. Meanwhile all adults should read Canseco’s book. You read it on One Sorry Blog: Canseco’s is a hilarious, truthful, irreverent, watershed work, the modern day Oddballs, only in the A Monograph on the Juice called Juiced! sort of way, in which only one in eight paragraphs begins, “I remember this one time in Oakland…” or whichever city. My copy was a present sent first class USPS to Buenos Aires, and I read it the day it arrived.

At the rate things are going, I’ll be selling stuff for another ten days or so. I can imagine listing the last saleable items in the next few days, or maybe I’ll wait to see how the current stuff ends up. I have four real nice sets for sale right now, two of which are missing the best card. I have two very nice rookie card lots for both Kobe and KG to put up today or tomorrow. Beyond that, I can’t see there being very much to sell that’s worth the five minutes and $0.20 required to list it on ebay. I suppose I could package a bunch of rookie and star cards together from ten-year spans and sell those, but it sounds like a right kerfuffle.

Then again, why not? I’m still of the mind that everything, if sold on its own and for its own merits, will sell. I can give you ten good reasons to buy my entire Nolan Ryan collection, but will you want to pay enough to make it worth my while to dig it all up? The fact is, a very high percentage of baseball cards are not only worthless, but a liability. Unless you’re selling the cards out of the back of your Volkswagen, as I have three times since this firesale began, somebody’ll have to pay to ship the stuff. I make no money on shipping, because I think that for what I’m doing, making money on shipping is bad style. If it’s not postage, it’s gasoline spent to get out to Longs on a Saturday, or the half hour spent in line waiting behind two moneygrams to Mexico that the computer was slow to process. I want this firesale to serve as a real-life price guide for the month of February 2008 for anyone who finds himself wondering what a certain of these cards is worth. The final price of all my auctions is the actual price the buyer is willing to pay plus the actual shipping charges and expenses. All the end-of-auction prices for the cards in my collection are, to the penny, exactly what those cards were worth, that week, on ebay.