Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Death of Baseball Cards

First, read this article on Slate about what's happened to baseball cards.

I made this discovery for myself the other day when I went online to investigate the price of a Roger Clemens rookie card. You know, Roger Clemens -- 325 game winner, seven time Cy Young winner , sure-to-be-first-ballot Hall of Famer, greatest pitcher of the 1980s AND 1990s AND 2000s.

I was sure it would be $500 plus. Actual price on Ebay: $7.

Seven fucking dollars?

As it turns out, this is an across the board phenomena. Barry Bonds' rookie card? Remember, this is the guy who owns the single season home run record, and may set the record for most home runs of all time! Must be at least $100, right? Even after the crash? No. Actual price -- about $10 to $20.

Sure, he's a huge prick, but so was Ty Cobb.

Incidentally, Ty Cobb cards are going for $1,000. Sure, that sounds steep, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s I'm pretty sure Ty Cobb cards were worth, like, a million dollars.

Mickey Mantle seems to be the exception: his rookie card is being offered for $10,000 "buy it now" on eBay. Of course, we'll see if anyone actually "buys it now."

Let this be a lesson. For everyone who thinks the price of homes can go nowhere but up, up, up, let the crash of the baseball cards serve as a reminder that markets can crash, and crash hard. (And yes, I know that homes have an inherent use value that baseball cards obviously do not. But when people are paying $500,000 for a one-bedroom flat in SF, I see visions of Wade Boggs's rookie card -- $5 -- dancing in my head.)


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