It almost burns my fingers to type that. It is just one of those things that I can not wrap my mind around. The idea ranks right up there with ‘too much money’ or ‘too much fun.’ OK, ‘too much fun’ maybe, but how can someone have too many cards? For whatever reason, either you bought into the overproduction of cards in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, you really do have an addiction or you sneak a little more card allowance than you should, (I love you honey) you have at least one closet full of boxes of cards you have not touched in years. So now what? After some conversations with some friends and readers I decided that this week Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes will look at some options to help with your *cough* problem and maybe even make yourself feel good along the way.
The first question that comes to the minds of a lot of people is what can they get for their cards? Anyone who is computer savvy may put them all in box and list them on-line. It will be tough to make money this way for a couple of reasons. Unless you know what you have and take the time to correctly list and describe it you could lose out on some money, if they sell at all. Not too many people will bid on an auction titled ’20,000 misc. baseball cards from the 1980’s.’ Bidders will ask questions like what sets(s) are they from? Are they all different? Are they common cards or are some star cards included? If you want to sell your cards like this you probably do not have the time or desire to go through them and answer these questions. Besides, do you know how much 20,000 baseball cards weigh? It will cost more to ship them then they are worth.
A little underused but easily abused option is to take your cards to Goodwill. Yes Goodwill will take them and you can get a tax write off for them. Please be cautious and realistic though. If you can not sell 20,000 cards at the ‘book value’ of eight cents per common card, what makes you think Goodwill or the government can? A general rule of thumb when filling out the tax claim paperwork is to think yard-sale prices. Better yet, do not even claim them at a value per card. List them as 20,000 baseball cards for $50 or $1 per complete set.
Donate your unwanted cards to your local school. The elementary school where my wife teaches and my kids attend has a school store program. Kids earn school dollars for good behavior and being helpful. Every other week, the kids can go shopping at the school store for little packs of cards that are put together. The kids love it and I think it is a great way to keep this hobby alive by getting younger generations excited about collecting cards. Even if the kids have never heard of the players and they retired before the kids were born!
Donate your cards to a children’s hospital or orphanage. They may not be worth anything to you, but a handful of common cards from a stranger may be everything to a sick child or kids who do not have anything. I try to teach my kids about giving to and helping others. This is a great way to practice this idea. If you ever want to see a bunch of adults and kids cry over some ‘worthless’ baseball cards, give them to one of these two groups. If you do not feel anything, it is time to check your pulse.
Give your cards away as Halloween treats. Parents love this because it is a little less candy to rot teeth on. Kids love it because the cards will last them longer then the candy will and will not cause tummy aches. I have done this before and both boys and girls seem to love it. This is another way for us to help keep the hobby strong and start future generations on card collecting.
Keeping with the idea of encouraging younger collectors to get started, consider donating unwanted cards to a local Boy Scout troop or Little League team. I have heard of a few Eagle Scout projects involving sports. Fathers and sons collecting baseball cards is also part of the American dream. I always loved getting a pack of cards from my coach one season in Little League. Win or lose after each game we knew we would get a pack of Topps cards. This is when I actually learned the art of trading.
Lastly, and I will admit that this was hard for me to swallow at first, is to recycle the cards. My friend Tim Carroll has found a creative way to do this. He actually cuts baseball cards into tiny pieces by the thousands. Take a close work at some of his masterpieces at Tim Carroll Art. Every time he finishes a new piece, I try not to think of all of the baseball cards who lost their lives to make it, but rather the sum of the parts and the finished product. He actually has sold commissioned pieces of his outstanding artwork. I am sure that he has made more money selling these pieces of art made of worthless baseball cards then he ever could just selling the cards outright.
Besides an art medium, what other uses do recycled baseball cards have?
Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.