How to Put Worthless Baseball Cards to Use

If you’ve saved boxes of old baseball cards from 1986 to 1993, you can be absolutely guaranteed they are completely worthless on the collectibles market. Capitalizing on a booming industry, Topps, Score, Donruss, Fleer, Bowman, Upper Deck, and every other card manufacturer absolutely flooded the marketplace with sports cards during that timeframe. Whereas cards from pre-1986 were produced in a sensible volume, cards from this period were so common that if you lined up every 1992 Topps Jeff Blauser card ever produced, you could circle the Earth 637 times before getting bored and burning the rest.

After the baseball strike of 1994, fans lost interest and the industry crashed. Card collecting slowly gained momentum over the next twenty years, but even today it’s nowhere near its popularity from 1993.

If you attempted to sell your entire collection of cards, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to buy them, let alone anyone to pay you anything close to what you bought them for originally. Unless you are one of the lucky few to own one of those rare Billy Ripken profanity-laced cards, your collection is better served in a dumpster than taking up valuable attic space.

So what to do with your crappy collection? Here are a few ideas:

  • Continue hanging onto the cards. Some of them are 30 years old now. Sure, they’re worthless now, but who knows what they may be worth by 2060! With many people discarding their cards, your 1990 Donruss Kent Hrbek could suddenly be worth a buck.
  • Hand the cards down to a child. Did you buy those baseball cards with the idea of getting rich one day? Or did you buy them to enjoy them in the moment&mdashto learn stats, trade them with friends, and have a hobby? Maybe a kid who doesn’t understand their lack of value will enjoy them.
  • Give them away. If someone on Craigslist will take your free expired baby food or free pile of branches, you can be assured you can give your cards away and know you made someone happy.
  • Attempt to sell them. If you find someone willing to buy your entire collection for $100, you’d be wise to take the money and run… unless, of course, it costs you more to ship the collection than what you’re earning.
  • Wallpaper a bedroom or den with them. Line the cards floor to ceiling, wall to wall in a bedroom and bask in its glory!
  • Make some sort of art project with the cards, like this cool picture frame, or line a dresser or table with the cards.
  • Hide the cards somewhere. Stick all your cards up in the ventilation system of a building. Someday someone will stumble upon them and have a heyday rifling through them, thinking they’ve uncovered a treasure.
  • Make a Halloween costume out of them. Fashion a bodysuit with your cards with tape and be Baseball Card Man for Halloween!
  • Use them as bath toys! Kids can stick them to the shower tile when they get wet.
  • Use them like flashcards to memorize player facts and stats and wow your friends! Who knows, one day you may be on Jeopardy and the final Jeopardy question might be asking what Otis Nixon batted in 1989. You’ll know!
  • Use them to make a big bon fire. It sucks that you saved 5,000 cards for 28 years just to throw them in a fire, but if you’re short on kindling, cards will ignite easily.
  • Put them in your bike spokes to make noise. Well, that will put one or two of the cards to use, but you’ve still got 4,898 remaining.
  • Shred them and use them for confetti when your favorite team wins the World Series!
  • Sell your individual cards to the player himself, or the player’s family! You know who is most likely to want 10,000 Craig Lefferts 1993 Donruss cards? Craig Lefferts.

There are still people out there who will buy unopened cards from this era. Though there are very few cards of any monetary value, some people love the feeling of opening a pack of baseball cards for the nostalgia, mystery, and intrigue. The peeling away of the wrapper and hard stick of gum takes them back to their youth. So if you’ve saved a full waxbox of 1991 Score, you may find a taker in the $20 range.

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My Hot Take:
I spent every penny I had on baseball cards during this very era. Before making a cross country move, I picked out any card that I felt could potentially be valuable and gave the rest away. The 200 or so cards that remain take up very little storage space, and I don’t have the regret of losing the entire collection. I will even buy an unopened box of cards on eBay now and then just for the fun of opening them, even if they go directly from the pack to the trash.

Sorry, you wasted thousands of dollars as a kid on cards that have no value. You can try to sell them, but you should just cut your losses and give them to a kid who might get some momentary joy from them.


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