The lost art of sports card collecting



The world of sports card collecting is an ever-shrinking market, as more and more children have less interest in them.


Matt Mortenson from Mountain View Sports, a sports collectible shop at Speedway Boulevard and Wilmot Road spoke about his thoughts on card collecting today.


“The biggest factor I think is kids have phones, iPads and so many other avenues besides cards, so it’s not as cool as it was when I was a kid,” he said.


With the increased awareness about how some sports will leave you with health issues later on in life, parents are enrolling their children in other activities.


Over the last seven years, children ages 6 to 12 that participated in team sports was about 56 percent, according to the Aspen Institute, an educational blog.


Leaving 44 percent of children not playing sports. That doesn’t mean they don’t watch it, but when you play the sport, you get more connected to it.


When I was growing up, I played just about every sport imaginable, and in turn, I started watching them. Eventually I got my favorite teams, for example, the Miami Dolphins and Dan Marino.


However, what happened next was key to starting my collection. When I was about 6 or 7, my mother noticed how much I loved sports and showed me the cards she had collected when she was younger.


I was instantly mesmerized and hooked. With her help, I looked up sports card shops in the phone book. We found a little shop right down the road from my house and went on over. It was Mountain View Sports. The original owner helped me immensely start my collection.


Keep in mind at this point I was young and new in the card collecting game, so my young mind didn’t realize the money or rarity that some cards held.


Every time we would go to the shop, the owner would pull out all the Marino and Dolphins cards and let me look until I decided which ones I wanted that day.


Then eBay has helped me grow my collection exponentially over the last five years. This creates another avenue for collectors, because local shops are disappearing. You can find practically any card that exists on eBay.


My method is to buy as much as you can from the same seller, which helps save on shipping as well. There’s another secret I have for eBay, but I can’t give everything away.  


Those factors were key to my success in the card collection game. Few are given the opportunity I was. This leads to some collecting cards for a few years and then giving it up.


Those pieces of cardboard are a potential gold mine. My father used to say: “We used to buy a pack of cards with some stale bubble gum for 10 cents and then put our favorite players in our bike spokes.”Thus, plenty of damaged cards resulted. If you have cards in decent or pristine shape, though, this is where the process of grading your cards begins. There are a couple of companies that are trusted in the collecting community in regards to grades. One company is P.S.A. (Professional Sports Authenticator). P.S.A.’s scale of grading is 1 to 10, with 10 being the best and is listed as a gem mint.  


Countless children damaged cards over the years, which led to a lot of those cards to book at outrageous prices, because the cleaner you can find one the more expensive. Granted, I still look at it this way. I’d rather have a graded 2 Sandy Koufax rookie than not have one at all.  


One example of a card’s value: Former NFL player Evan Mathis had a 1952 Mickey Mantle graded 9 out of 10, which he put up for sale at an auction in Dallas last April.


It sold for $2.88 million, which is outrageous for a card that books for $30,000, according to the Beckett Price Guide. However, that gets back to the process of grading cards. If you can get a high grade, it can sale for way more than book.


Then the late ’80s and early ’90s happened, where there were multiple companies producing millions of cards, making them less rare and thus diminishing the value.


Companies were releasing inserts numbered to 10,000, compared to today where some inserts are numbered to 100 or less. However, the supply and demand for cards is less today than it was in the early ’90s.


This,creates an excellent market for those who are serious collectors like myself. My collection I would estimate is over $50,000.


Which goes to show you, any hobby you have as a child could lead to bigger and better things. Think of this as an investment and start getting your children involved … or don’t, which leaves more for me.  


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