Recent HistorySkip page.
The concept of baseball cards as collectibles was a natural evolution of the hobby. Beginning in the mid-1970s, baby boomers began repurchasing the cards that were links to their youths. Eventually, baseball-card shows were organized across the country to stimulate the purchase of older and newer cards. Older cards that once were bought for pennies now were valued in dollars. Certain "star cards" in mint condition, featuring popular players or Hall of Famers, were valued at hundreds. Soon, cards were worth thousands of dollars. Other companies, including Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck, entered the baseball-card business during the 1980s. In 1991, Topps ceased including gum with its cards, as a result of complaints that gum stains devalued the cards.
In the 1990s, baseball-card design became state of the art, with dazzlingly visual graphics. Companies were offering multiple sets during a single season as well as "inserts," or special limited-edition subsets. They began including cards personally autographed by ballplayers as well as cards that included tiny strips of game-used bats and game-worn uniforms. By 2000, a pack of baseball cards cost dollars, rather than nickels and dimes. The following year, Topps celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in the baseball-card business by adding thousands of vintage cards to its packs, including redemption cards for 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie cards, the company's most celebrated card.