Sports Memorabilia: Does Anyone Collect Anymore

Dave WalkerCorrespondent IMay 21, 2010

As a kid I can remember going to the store with my parents every Friday during my summer vacation and spending almost the entire time staring into either a Beckett or Tuff Stuff magazine.

I had spent many years collecting cards, a hobby that my father had gotten me interested in when I was just 7. But, as the years went by, I grew up and became further away from my card collecting ways, or maybe it was just the prices that went up?

A pack of 1989 Donruss baseball cards were around 35 cents back then. I could spend upwards of about a dollar on cards every week, unless I wanted to use my own money to buy them.

I usually picked up three packs and was always content with just Donruss, or Topps, or Fleer. But then came the card that killed it all for us young card collectors, the Griffey Upper Deck rookie.

Upper Deck was the beginning of the new wave of sports cards. The cards were glossy, the picture was sharp, and the cards were worth more. Wait a minute! Cards were worth money?

As a kid I always wanted to know if I had a card that was of value, but I would never sell any of my cards. Many kids were the same way, and card collecting was a kids game (my dad was a big kid) at the time. But again, along came Griffey.

I cannot remember what the card was worth at the time, but all I remember was how it got the greedy older folks involved in collecting. It was all about the bottom dollar, not the enjoyment of pulling one of your favorite player out of a pack. The card industry as we knew it was about to change.

The next thing you know you don't just have the Topps, Donruss, and Fleer's of the world, you have Stadium Club, Fleer Ultra, Collector's Choice, and the list could go on and on. Now you weren't just looking for favorite players and rookie cards, you were after jersey cards, special limited cards, cards with holograms, and more. It just got to be ridiculous.

There was however a card boom in the mid to late 90's. Card shows seemed to pop up everywhere, and real collectors were forced to pay out a pretty penny to continue the hobby they loved so much, while the dealers made nice profits.

In my opinion, the sports card industry was dead.

So, right after I realized how much it was gonna cost me to continue collecting cards, I decided to try a new hobby, collecting Starting Lineups.

In case you forgot what they are, they are the little sports figurines that Kenner produced from 1988 until about 2000 I think. There is a picture above to jog your memory.

I had bought some of these when I was younger. I believe they were only about 3-4 dollars apiece, and they were in the toy section of most department stores.

In 1988 and 1989, they made a ton of these figurines. The most popular players were released on a National level, showing up on shelves everywhere, but there were a ton of regional players that appeared as just that, a regional piece.

I had guys that some people probably wouldn't even remember like the Tony Pena's and Jody Davis's of the world. The only problem was that at 7 years old, I opened them out of the packaging.

To make a long story short, from about '92-'98 I spent all my hard earned $$ on collecting these pieces and keeping them in package. I had them all, the Favre rookie, a Reggie Jackson Stadium Star, a Nolan Ryan freeze frame. You name it and I probably had it.

But every good thing has an end, as Kenner started puting out fewer pieces and ultimately McFarlane took over the sports figurine business. But, hey at least I had a nice collection to fall back on financially right? It was gonna pay for my college, right?


Prices and demand went down, just as they did with baseball cards over the years as demand went down. I was forced to unload all of my lineups either on ebay, or to a friend I called The Trust, and barely made my money back.

Nowadays you can go on ebay and buy whatever you want for a decent price. I got a graded 8 Roger Staubach rookie for $32 a year ago, and a Jerry Rice rookie graded 9 for $45. Back in the day these cards booked for a small fortune.

But I guess my question is, does anybody collect anymore? I don't see the card shows anymore, and Don West no longer unloads GEM MINT 10 ROOKIES at 3am on the Shop at Home channel. Is the memorabilia business did? If so, what killed it? Was it the prices?

This is more of a what everyone thinks piece rather than an informative piece, so please leave me your comments on what you think of the industry and if you still collect.