With the start of the 2019 season right around the corner, this year’s batch of baseball cards is to appear in stores. To those new or returning to card collecting although there are only two major card companies there are dozens of cardboard options at every price point.
Topps is the largest and oldest company, it also features an exclusive licensing deal with the MLB meaning only its cards can depict team logos and names. Panini is a newer arrival to the American collecting scene, they focus on higher-end product. Fans of World Cup soccer likely know them from their sticker series commemorating the event, which sparked a worldwide collecting fervor.
Collecting Baseball Cards
While any Wal-Mart or Target sells packs of cards, nothing beats going to an actual hobby store. Wal-Mart and Target sell ‘retail packs’ hobby stores sell ‘hobby packs,’ usually, there is a small price increase but this is sometimes made up for by the number of cards in a pack. A hobby pack has better odds for parallels and other inserts that are rare and command a premium.
The two most common brand names are both under Topps. Topps’ flagship product, Series 1 is out now. Later into and after the season is Series 2 and Update series which feature more players and note any trades or call-ups. At the year’s end it is Series 1, Series 2 and Update Series that are available for purchase as a complete set.
The other brand you are most likely to see on shelves Topps Heritage which features today’s players on the design of Topps cards from 49 years ago. That means that this year’s Topps Heritage has the grey-border look of the 1970 Topps cards that your parents might remember collecting.
Although very rare, both these products offer the chance of getting an autographed or relic (game-used memorabilia) card. As mentioned, buying hobby packs from hobby stores increases these odds. Less rare and usually attainable are parallel cards.
Parallels are cards which feature the same picture but a different color border such as red, blue, gold or more. Depending on the parallel there can be a significant premium over the base, regular version of the card.
As the season begins more sets will hit shelves. Topps’ Allen & Ginter and Gypsy Queen are both sets based on its titular 1880s original brand. The products are fairly cheap, Allen & Ginter offer more than just baseball players but a zany variety of athletes and topics while Gypsy Queen sticks to the MLB.
Topps Chrome is a brand that it a little more expensive than regular flagship Topps but its cards are on a harder, more metallic base. Chrome cards retain their value to a much stronger degree than most other brands. Topps Opening Day is aimed at a younger crowd. They can be had for a much cheaper price, and usually include some mascot cards!
Panini’s offerings include Panini Donruss, Donruss Optic, Panini USA and Elite Extra Edition. If Donruss sounds familiar its because Panini bought the 1980s brand name and revived it in 2009. Panini Donruss is one of the brands most popular releases. Donruss Optic is Panini’s alternative to Topps Chrome. Panini USA and Elite Extra Edition are sets that predominately feature prospects.
Where to Buy
Much of card buying today is done online. eBay, an online shopping mainstay is always filled with cards. Collectors who do not want to leave their couch can order packs and boxes through Amazon or a myriad of hobby shop websites.
In addition to eBay, collectors looking for certain cards can search on COMC.com or for common cards at the cardbarrel.com. Also try looking on Google for card show in your area, although less common many still operate across the country.
Every collection is different. It can contain whatever you like to collect whether it be vintage cards, prospects or a certain team or player. There are no right or wrong ways to collect baseball cards, its about having fun and loving the game. Collectors, comment below some of your top cards!