What Are My Baseball Cards Worth?

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So you have some baseball cards from when you were a kid. Maybe you collected them, or maybe your parents saved them for you.

You’ve been thinking about getting rid of them but don’t know how much they’re worth.

Well, you’re in luck! In this guide, we’ll tell you how to figure out the value of your old baseball cards and give you an idea of what they could be worth

What Factors Help Determine A Baseball Card’s Value?

There a few different factors that help determine the value of a sports card. The most important are the star power of the player, whether it’s a rookie card or not, the age of the card, the condition of the card and the relative scarcity of the card.

Let’s dive into each factor in more detail.

1. Star Power

It’s a simple concept, but collectors want to own cards of the best players in their respective sports, whether dead or alive.

Thus, a player’s past success or present success is a major determinant of a card’s demand and ultimate worth.  

Babe Ruth cards are still in huge demand, even though Babe passed away in 1948 and last swung a bat nearly 90 years ago.


Even in an iconic set such as the 1952 Topps baseball issue, common cards such as this Luke Easter aren’t worth much money.

The ‘Star Power ‘factor is just one part of the equation, of course, but it can certainly dictate a large part of a card’s overall value.

Are Hall Of Famer Cards Worth More?

Cards of any member of the Hall of Fame typically have more collector demand than a player not in the Hall of Fame.

There are, however, some exceptions.

For example, Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson’s cards are pretty valuable despite their exclusion from the Hall.

But nine times out of ten, the Hall of Famer will be worth more than the non-Hall of Famer.


An early Joe Jackson caramel card. Jackson is one non-HOFer that still carries significant ‘star power’ demand

Ty Cobb is still one of the most recognized names in baseball, and thus, his cards, such as this T205 card, are highly demanded because of their ‘star power’.

Demand for players’ cards surges before their expected election to the Hall of Fame. 

A recent example was with Derek Jeter, as the price of his 1993 Upper Deck SP rookie card surged in the year before his HOF election.


Derek Jeter’s rookie card values surged as expectations neared that he would be elected ot the Hall Of Fame

 This phenomenon tends to vary based on a player’s Star Power and the existing supply of their cards.

For example, the prices of the rookie cards Tim Raines barely budged after his election to the Hall of Fame in 2017.


Often times a player’s rookie card will increase in value when news breaks of a Hall of Fame election, that is unless the card was printed in massive quantities, such as this 1981 Topps Tim Raines rookie card.

Unfortunately, Topps, Fleer and Donruss hit the printing presses in a big way in 1981. 

2. Rookie Card Or Not?

Everyone wants to collect their favorite player’s first official card (aka ‘rookie card’).

The rookie card is THE FIRST card ever issued for a player, and there is a certain desirability for collectors to own this card.

This demand leads to a player’s rookie card carrying a premium to any of their other cards.

But, there are some circumstances when a player’s later-year cards are worth more than a rookie card.

For example, OJ Simpson’s second-year card—his 1971 Topps Football card issue—is worth more than his rookie 1970 Topps card.

OJ Simpson’s 1970 Topps Rookie Card


OJ Simpson’s 1971 Topps second-year card

Below, we’ve posted the PSA population reports for Simpson’s rookie and second-year cards.

PSA has graded Simpson’s rookie card much more highly than his 1971 Topps card, by a very wide margin.

In fact, his second-year card has only been graded around 500 times, whereas his rookie card has been graded over 2500 times.

Thus, his second-year card is five times as scarce. And if you asked me, the 1971 Topps set looks much nicer.

Do More Attractive Cards Sell For More Money?

Cards from a well-designed set or cards with a more attractive pose for a player do earn a higher value.

This latter fact is quite evident in the infamous T206 set. Portrait cards from the set earn a premium compared to other action-type poses.

Below is an example of this phenomenon.  


Walter Johnson’s T206 Portrait card has great visual appeal and, due to higher demand, has a higher value than his other ‘Hands On Chest’ Card from the set


Johnson’s ‘Hand On Chest’ card is still highly sought after but worth less than his yellow Portrait card from the T206 set.

On the left is a T206 Walter Johnson ‘Portrait’ card, and on the left, a player pose known as his ‘Hands at Chest’ variation in the set.  

Most are immediately drawn to that stare-down from ‘The Big Train.’ Johnson’s other card, with a side pose, doesn’t have that same sort of visual appeal.

Despite its similar scarcity, the Portait Walter Johnson card sells at a sizeable premium to the ‘Hands at Chest’ card. 

3. Age Of The Card

One of the biggest factors affecting the value of a baseball card is its age.

Generally speaking, the older the card, the more valuable it is. This is because older cards are rare and more sought-after by collectors.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Cards from the 1980s are now over 40 years old and not rare by any means.

Are Baseball Cards from the 1980s and 1990s Worth Money?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the vast majority of cards produced in the 1980s and 1990s are worth little.  

Known as the ‘junk card era,’ card companies mass-produced cards to meet the surge in demand.

For example, in 1991, Fleer produced 3 million copies of each card.

Fleer wasn’t alone, however, as Donruss, Topps, Score, and Upper Deck were also flooding the market with cards.


Not only are the 1991 Fleer Cards of the junk card era notably ugly, but they were some of the most massively produced sets of the era.

Are There Any Cards From The Junk Era Worth Anything? 

Yes, but unfortunately, there are rarely any baseball cards that exceed $100 in value.

That is unless you have key GEM MINT Rookie cards from the likes of Ken Griffey JrBarry Bonds or Bo Jackson

Mint copies of Derek Jeter’s SP rookie card have sold for over six figures.

Basketball is the one sport from the 1980s where you are likelier to strike gold.

Michael Jordan’s Fleer and Star rookie cards have sold for over six figures.


Remember that I noted that card values are highly dictated by relative scarcity and end demand by collectors.

The Jordan is the exception, where even a card excess supply can reach high values, driven by a big surge in demand.

Jordan’s Fleer rookie card has more than 50K copies in circulation, yet its value has continued to increase.

4. Condition/Grade Of The Card

Condition is one of the most important factors in determining the value of a baseball card.

A card in pristine condition will be worth more than a card with bent corners or a crease down the middle.

There can also be a significant difference in value for only one step up in grade.

And the closer a card is to a Gem-Mint (PSA 10 or SGC 10), the more valuable it will be.

Here’s an example of PSA pricing on a 1963 Topps Pete Rose Rookie Card.


As shown above, for middle grades, there is a slight step up in value. For example, a PSA 6 (EX-MT) Rose Rookie card is worth about 40% more than a PSA 5 (EX) Rose Rookie.

And a PSA 7 Rose rookie card is worth nearly double that of a PSA 5 copy, a difference of only two condition grades. 

The real step up, however, happens at the highest condition ranges, where a PSA 9 Rose rookie card is worth about 40x that of a PSA 6 copy!

Most collectors wouldn’t even be able to tell the difference between the condition of these two cards. But, in the hobby today, the condition is everything. 


A PSA 6 Pete Rose Rookie Card is valued at roughly 1/40th of the value of a PSA 9 Pete Rose 9 rookie!


A PSA 9 Pete Rose Rookie Card is worth about 40x that of a comparable PSA 6 copy.

Should I Get My Card Graded?

All else equal, a graded card is worth more than its raw counterpart. 

However, we must consider the costs to grade when making our decision. 

First Recommendation:  read our comprehensive piece on card grading to determine your card’s overall grade.

Look up the values on eBay to see if your card, in estimated grade, would be worth more than the value of the ungraded card plus the costs to grade the card

For more information on this topic, check out our guide- ‘Should I Get My Sports Cards Graded?’

5. Baseball Card Scarcity

Some cards are much rarer than others, naturally making them more valuable. The most valuable baseball cards are usually ones that were released in limited quantities or as part of special sets. 

For example, the Honus Wagner T206 card is extremely valuable because the card was pulled from the set early in its production run.

Only 50 to 75 copies of the card are known to exist. Combine the scarcity with Wagner’s ‘Star Power’, and you get a card that is one of the most valuable cards in history. 


How To Find The Population Reports for A Card

Only three public databases provide population reports – PSA, SGC, and Beckett. PSA’s is the best by far.

I tend to ignore Beckett for vintage analysis since most collectors use PSA or SGC.

Judgment on scarcity levels is subjective, but I tend to consider any card with a combined SGC and PSA population of less than 100 ‘scarce.’ 

Looking Up Population Reports At PSA’s Website

First, you want to visit this website here:

Then, you can enter either the name of the set or the actual card year, set name, and player name.  

For example, we enter ‘1986 Fleer Michael Jordan,’ and PSA’s search autocomplete provides the stats for us:


The column all the way on the right-hand side provides the total. 

PSA has graded 16,484 Michael Jordan Rookie Cards.

Another 561 of his cards have a .5 grade at the end of the rating (indicated by the +) and then another 1045 graded with a qualifier (such as OC (off-center) or ST (staining).

Looking Up Population Reports At SGC’s Website

SGC’s website is not as well organized as PSA’s. Here’s the link to start your population report data in SGC.  

SGC has graded only a fraction of the Jordan rookie cards compared to PSA, but still, we can add another 1798 cards to our population estimate


Are Error Cards Worth More Money?

Error cards are cards that were printed with some mistakes.

Errors can be anything from misprints to spelling errors to design flaws. Sometimes, the errors are minor and go unnoticed by most people, and other times, they are glaring and obvious.

Either way, error cards can be valuable to collectors.

The 1909 T206 White Borders Sherry ‘Magie’ card is one of the most famous ‘misspelling’ error cards in the hobby.


One of the most well-known error cards of all time is the T206 Sherry Magee card, which is mispelled ‘Magie’.

The T206 set is one of the most revered and sought-after sets among vintage collectors. However, the American Tobacco Company mispelled Magee’s name and pulled the error card (spelled ‘Magie’), leading to a very short print run

Any T206 collector trying to amass ‘The Monster’ needs to secure the ‘Magie’ to finish the set. Even even though Sherry Magee was a bench player, lower-grade copies of the ‘Magie’ T206 card now fetch in the low five figures

For a more modern example, the 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken ‘F**K Face’ card is an error card that more collectors are familiar with.


This Ripken card is a popular error card from the late 1980s. You might think it would be worth a small fortune, but they were still produced in massive quantities.

Fleer didn’t exactly realize what was written on Ripken’s bat until deep into the print run when it tried to cover up the vulgarity

This is where the ‘Scarcity’ factor comes into play. 

While some believe the Ripken ‘F**K Face’ card is a rare card, if we examine PSA’s website, we find that PSA has graded nearly 5000 copies of the card

The rarer cards are the variations that covered up the obscenity.

For example, the version where the bat was scribbled out in white has only been graded 62 times by PSA.

It is worth nearly $1500 in Mint Condition (the regular error card is worth only around $50).

Putting It All Together

Five factors help determine the value of a sports card.

1. Star Power
2. Rookie Card or Not?
3. Age Of The Card
4. Condition
5. Scarcity

If we evaluate each factor with a value from 1 through 5 (5 having the most value), we can create a simple equation to estimate the price range of a particular card.

For example, here’s a Babe Ruth Rookie Card – the 1915 M101-5 Babe Ruth Sporting News Card, graded PSA 4 (VG-EX).

babe ruth rookie card


My analysis of the card based on the factors looks like this:

  1. Star Power Value = 5 (Babe Ruth is the most recognized name in baseball history)
  2. Rookie Card = Yes, so a 5 (could say a 1 if it weren’t his rookie card)
  3. Age = 5 (it’s over 100 years old)
  4. Scarcity Value = 5 (PSA has only graded 32 of these)
  5. Condition- This is more of a variable number; we could also evaluate it based on the population’s grades.  Let’s go with a 4 here since it’s still a rare card based on this grade.

Total Score = 5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 4 = 24

Yes, it’s a perfect score, and we would expect a mid-grade Babe Ruth rookie card to be worth a pretty penny.

We wouldn’t have to look at any price guides to realize this.  But it would in fact be true–a PSA 4 Ruth Rookie is worth in excess of $1 Million, making this one of the most valuable baseball cards of all time.

Online Price Guides To Help Value Your Cards

Vintage Card Prices

If you need to value a lot of cards and are buying and selling, Vintage Card Prices is a great choice.

The service provides data on all historical eBay listings and auction house historical sales

The data is well organized and provides a breakdown for average pricing, by grade and split between PSA and SGC grades.  

You can view all the old auction listings and the pictures from the auctions. Some older auctions don’t have the images available.

The service isn’t free—it’s $17.99 per month, so you likely will be an active card collector to justify the cost. Note that there is also a 24-hour option for anyone seeking a quick view of pricing, and this costs only $3.99.


eBay Historical Prices

You can quickly search on eBay (for free) to find some of the latest sales for a specific card. 

This method is more crude than using the Vintage Card Prices website, but it can give you an up-to-date look at a card’s recent values.  

Head over to and type in a card in the search box.  Here, we’ve typed in ‘T206 Ty Cobb Red Portrait’, and you want to click the ‘Advanced’ text at the right of the blue Search box. 


Then, you will get the page shown below. Make sure your card is still entered in the keywords box. Click on the ‘Sold Items’ box as circled below, and then click ‘Search.’


Below are the results for each sold listings for the ‘T206 Cobb Red Portrait’.  

This data isn’t organized, thus we have to dig around a bit and find the grade that we are looking for a comparison.  

Some won’t be worth reviewing–those first two listings below are reprints (I feel bad for the poor soul who bought them) and should be omitted from any comp


PSA’s Sports Market Report (SMR) Price Guide

PSA provides a monthly publication (called Sports Market Report) that provides card listings and values for all major sports The online listing of SMR Pricing is free, whereas the monthly magazine is $49 per year PSA updates online pricing, although one critique is that the pricing never reflects the current industry pricing Especially in vintage, SMR pricing tends to be below market. 

But, for a free tool, getting a good idea of the approximate value can be quite useful.  Using SMR in tandem with recent eBay sales would be the best bet for someone without a Vintage Card Prices subscription.   Here’s the link to the SMR Price Guide: 

Each individual player card page also provides a great interactive graph of pricing by card grade, as shown below for an Eddie Collins M101 Sporting News Card smr-price-guide

PSA Auction Prices Realized (APR)


PSA has significantly improved its data reporting, and now pulls in all data from eBay and auction sales.

PSA now has a section for every card called APR (Auction Prices Realized), which pulls in this data and allows for more updated valuation information.

Below is an example showing the latest auction data for the 1952 Topps Mantle card. Users can click through to the actual auction link and zoom in on the card image.


We hope this guide will help determine your sports card values.

We’d also be happy to provide a free estimate on the value of your collection.

If you have any further questions, please shoot us an email at