Good News, Bad News About Those Sports Cards You Found

Every week we get dozens of comments from collectors that all look like this:

I was cleaning my mom’s attic and found several boxes of baseball cards. What are they worth?

In this blog, there’s good news and bad news. We’ll tell you why your cards might not be the moneymaker you hoped for and how to find out for sure.

The Bad News

If your boxes are from the late 1980s or early 90s, they are probably worthless. Chances are you or one of your family members bought these cards at the peak of the sports card market when everyone thought cards were going to be the next stock market. Unfortunately, everyone had that same idea and so card manufacturers saturated the market and collectors bought them up quickly.

You may think your Michael Jordan baseball card is the coolest thing ever and extremely unique. Unfortunately, there are thousands of these cards in the market (and even more hiding in shoeboxes). Even if your card is mint condition, there are plenty of those available for cheap too. Because everyone thought sports cards would be worth something during those days, they all decided to take pristine care of them. Unfortunately, that sports card bubble has burst and monetary values have sloped downward. But even if those cards don’t have cash value, the story of how you collected the cards has sentimental value, making them priceless to many collectors.

The Good News

There are exceptions to this “rule,” one of them being the 1991 Donruss Elite inserts. They were the first serial numbered cards and were “limited” to a run of 10,000 (which is insanely high by today’s standards). Due to their more controlled availability, you may be able to get $20 or more for these types of cards. PSA or Beckett graded rookie cards can have value too. The only way to find out for sure is checking our price guide!

There’s more good news: if your cards pre-date Top Gun, then you could have some better value. For example, if you have a Cy Young winner or Hall of Famer card from the early 80s or before, you could get upwards of $50 depending on the condition and grade. 

The Best News

It’s incredibly easy to find out the value of your cards using our free price guide. Simply type in the year, player name, and card manufacturer to see matching results that have recently sold on eBay. You can customize this list further by selecting cards similar to yours (e.g. graded vs. non-graded) to get a more accurate price estimate. If it turns out your cards are worth selling, check out our beginner’s guide for eBay selling and our tips for making money!

Are your cards from the pre-boom days and worth some money? Tell us your success story in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Good News, Bad News About Those Sports Cards You Found”

  1. My daughter gave me a huge gym bag, 1/2 full of sports cards ,mostly baseball and
    football cards, some in un opened packs. probably twenty years past, I would like a list
    of the cards and their selling price, if possible. I am an octogenarian, so I have lots of
    time to check these out !! If you could get back to me w/ some info I would be very
    appreciative.. Thank you ! Bob Kollmann

    1. Unfortunately a lot of the cards produced in the 90’s aren’t worth that much. Are your daughter’s cards organized in any way (like best ones in hard cases) or just in a big pile? I’d start by looking up the ones in cases, then I’d pull a few examples for each year/ brand… for example 1990 Upper Deck, 1990 Fleer, and 1989 Topps… you get the idea. Type them into the search box on https://mavin.io and you’ll get results for what individual cards, packs of cards, complete sets, etc. for that brand and year. You can sort the results to see what the highest cards sell for. The results are things that have actually sold, so you could expect to sell your cards for the same price… assuming you have the time to sell them online! Good luck!

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