This recent trading card market surge has taught us a lot—things like a single good game from the right type of player can cause their card popularity to soar; or that it’s extremely difficult to find cards where you’d expect to find them (which brings up the question of hobby box vs. retail.)
It’s also taught us that you just never know how much value your cards are going to hold, from the commons to the stars. And this of course shines a brighter light on how we store and organize card collections, and hints that we should all strive to take greater care with our cards.
Should You Sleeve Common Baseball Cards?
When it comes to sleeving common baseball cards, you should sleeve anything believed to have potential value. This could mean sleeving all true rookie cards in case a player shoots to stardom, or, sleeving all cards that fit your collector criteria. Both cases, and under other circumstances, common cards could have “value,” but in different senses.
Speaking to the first point of players who had relatively little value when you first pulled their cards, only to increase to much greater heights, here is a recent example, albeit a basketball example.
I purchased a large lot of cards off shopgoodwill.com, and received them in early August. When acquiring cards in this manner, I’m usually taking an educated guess that I’ll be able to at least get my money back based off what is shown in the auction photos.
Anyway, this one in particular had a few older Prizm basketball cards showing, and thinking that a Giannis could be lurking, I took a shot.
Well, at the time, the coolest card I came across was a Yao Ming yellow and red mosaic Prizm. Not a terrible card, but not enough to make up for the $30.50 I put into the purchase.
(Admittedly, Im more of a baseball guy, but have a nice assortment of basketball cards I’ve acquired, and I follow the sport, of course.)
Anyway, I didn’t see much of anything else, but ended up with a handful of rookies, which at this point Prizm + Rookie = potential. So, I sleeved them all. In fact, I sleeved them and stored in top loaders.
Well, not too far after that, TJ Warren started to go off, and his cards had a mini explosion. The first time I came across his eBay listings, I laughed, and thought it was cool because honestly I hadn’t heard much of him, and was fairly certain I wasn’t holding any of his rookie cards.
The second time I came across his eBay listings, now selling for even more, my photographic memory kicked in and I rushed to my sleeved basketball box (also known as the “you never know” box). Sure enough, I had a Warren Prizm (base, but still).
I sold the card on Mercari for $45, and was officially into the profit side of my purchase.
I also still have the Yao, along with the Clarkson pictured above, and the Gary Harris silver that is also more valuable now than before.
I guess the point is, sleeving could be a mark of significance. Had I not done so, these cards would have been lumped in with the rest of my “commons,” and I probably wouldn’t have gone back to check for anything useful anytime soon.
So, should you sleeve your commons?
Use your best judgement. If you think a card could potentially increase in value, as is the case with a Prizm rookie, sleeving will protect the condition, but it will also provide a marker, both physically as the card sits in the “could be valuable box,” and mentally, as you take a picture with your mind that yes, I do have this card.
And then of course, depending on the volume of cards you acquire, sleeving all of the common cards might take all of the time you have available to dedicate to collecting, but sleeving those with potential value, or at least value to you, I’d say go for it.