When Did Baseball Cards Die?

When I was a kid, we collected and traded baseball cards. This was in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s. I was not part of the generation that combined baseball cards and bicycle spokes to make noises. We simply collected cards, and traded them with friends when we could.

My favorite card of all time was the 1978 Topps Reggie Jackson all-star card. I’m not sure why (besides being a Yankees fan) but I loved that card.

1978 Topps Reggie Jackson All-Star

Usually, I traded cards with my brother, so the cards stayed in the family, so-to-speak. Sometimes, we traded with friends. I have no idea what complicated machinations we went through for our trades, but we had deals as sophisticated as anything Scott Boras or Jay-Z can put together today.

The last time I remember trading baseball cards, I was living in Warwick, Rhode Island, so it must have been in 1980 or maybe 1981. By the time we moved to Los Angeles, I’d lost interest.

Every now and then, I see a full set of the current year’s Topps cards in a store and kind of marvel at it. When I was a kid, getting a full set in mint condition was like winning the lottery. We imagined it happening, but it never actually happened. The thing is, I don’t see kids trading baseball cards anymore. Was this micro-economy killed off by the Internet? When did trading baseball cards die?

I don’t know the answer, but I’d be curious if anyone else does.



  1. The Internet was young when I finished school, but even years before that, I don’t recall people trading baseball cards. I believe Pog was the “thing” when I was in grade school (late 80s into 90s).

    I’m of the opinion that baseball cards died out due to the advent of things such as VCRs and when video games became more popular, such as the NES release.

  2. My gut, Jamie, tells me it is when Baseball cards came to be seen as an investment rather than something fun (late 80’s, early 90’s?) The market boomed, and then went it went bust, so did the “fun” along with it.

    1. Makes a lot of sense, Paul, sad as that is. I remember my Dad telling stories about collection of cards he had as a kid that his grandmother eventually threw away–and how much they’d be worth today. Mostly, I just liked trading them and (of course!) reading the stats on the back. The only thing I miss about newspapers is the baseball box scores. 🙂


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