Do you have a secret stash of baseball cards from your childhood, either stored in your basement or perhaps even in your childhood bedroom, which your parents have left untouched since the day you left?
Or perhaps you’ve never stopped collecting cards and have 3-ring binders stuffed with plastic sheets and rookie cards.
Here’s the bad news. If your collection is from the 1980s or 1990s, not only won’t you be able to retire on the proceeds — you’ll be lucky to make enough to buy a steak dinner at the Capital Grille. And that’s only if you’re fortunate enough to even find a buyer.
Author and Yankees fan Dave Jamieson explains why in my Boston Herald Working Stiff column this week. Although steroids and the baseball strikes have contributed to the contraction of the baseball card market, it mostly comes down to greed and overproduction — more than 81 BILLION cards were printed annually at the peak of the hobby in the early 1990s.
That means that Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. rookie cards are like Monopoly money. According to Jamieson, author of “Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession,” those unopened boxes you hoarded in your basement are absolutely worthless.
Jamieson’s book is a phenomenal primer in the pitfalls of personal investing and the dangers of believing something is valuable just because everyone says it is (see: Tickle Me Elmo, Retired Beanie Babies).
I thought my Wade Boggs rookie cards would at least fund a vacation. Maybe in his honor I could buy some chicken wings instead.
ALSO SEE: “Mixing Baseball Cards and Cleavage.”