Turning your baseball card collection into cash

I’ve always vowed to never sell my baseball card collection unless I was absolutely broke and down to my last can of beans.

And every year my resolve to hold onto my childhood hobby gets weaker and weaker.

Which brings me back to edging toward simply selling my cards, pocketing the cash for my rainy day fund and moving on.

That, in fact, is what a friend recently decided to do. After researching the market, he attended a baseball card show and arranged a sale to a dealer. He got a satisfactory price, there were no games involved, and the whole process was over in a couple hours.

Here’s the kicker: He used the money to pay college tuition bills for one of his kids. Not a bad way to put his hobby to use.

If you’re like me and haven’t sold any cards since your playground days, you may need to bone up on your options. Do you want to try your luck on eBay, any of the auction houses that advertise online, mega card shows that come to town, retail card shops or private transactions? Are you looking to sell by teams or by favorite player? Have you considered dealing with an auction house that will sell your stacks on consignment?

Given all these options, the selling process can be daunting. And failing to do some research can shave more than just pennies per card off your profit.

Though prices peaked in the 1990s, the hottest part of the market these days appears to cards from the 1950s, and 1960s, said Michael Steele, a former sports card auction house owner.

Before selling your cards, get at least a general value on your collection. Websites such, provide reliable information on pricing and rarity and also offer a grading service for a fee that could further determine whether a card has real value based on condition and other factors.

What if you get a low-ball offer? Don’t be in a rush, said Steele, and shop around. Don’t take your cards to a single dealer if at all possible.

Even if you don’t have a 1956 Mantle or a 1954 Aaron, don’t resort to tossing your collection in the trash. You just might have enough gems to cover a semester or two of your kids’ college education.