30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Professionally Graded Cards: Your opinion?

Congratulations... Pat Gillick, Bert Blyleven, and Roberto Alomar on being enshrined in Cooperstown. Its what millions of kids hope to achieve and only a few accomplish.

Up until this week, I hadn't heard of Pat Gillick... but he's guided two teams to three World Series Championships.

Blyleven started pitching before I was born, so by the time I began recognizing his name on cards... he was already an established veteran. However, I never took the time to collect his cards because there were so many other pitchers from his generation that I was fascinated with: Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jim Palmer, and my favorite of them all... Steve Carlton. I think the only card I have of Blyleven is his 1971 Topps rookie card:

He finished his 22 year career with 287 wins (27th all-time) and 3,701 K's (5th all-time). One of these days... when the HOF hype is over... I'll go after a memorabilia card and an autograph card to create a trifecta of him.

And finally... there's Roberto Alomar, who started playing at the peak of my collecting (for investment) years. By the time he had finished in 2004, I had stopped and started collecting again more times than he won a Gold Glove... which was ten times. Alomar was an all-star 12 consecutive years from 1990 to 2001, because he could hit and field... and was very consistent.

His rookie cards were produced in 1988... which was towards the beginning of the junk wax era. You can find his 1988 Donruss rookies for a quarter if you look hard enough. But his 1988 Score Rookie/Traded card is a different story. In the early 90's, this set was hot... especially the Mark Grace single... because of perceived scarcity. I flipped through an issue of Baseball Cards from 1991 and found five vendors selling the set... the lowest was $65 and the highest was $79.99.

I was fortunate to pick up a set when they first came out... but I didn't pick up a Alomar's 1988 Score R/T single until a few weeks ago.

I paid $17 (plus shipping & handling, which was probably around $2 on COMC) for this PSA 10 copy. These days, you can find sets on eBay for $12 to $20... and raw copies of this card in the $3 to $8 range. A PSA 9 graded copy recently sold for $8.20 (+ $2.50 shipping)... while a PSA 10 sold for $37.50 (+ $2.50 shipping).

Which finally brings me to today's topic:

What's your opinion of professionally graded cards?

I know that there's a lot of people who like them... and there's probably just as many people who don't. I personally have never sent anything in to a grading company, however I will pick up graded cards here or there if they're affordable and if it makes sense. I go back and forth about the protective casing. Sometimes... I like the idea that the card is sealed. But other times, I think it's cool to be able to touch the actual card.

As of today, here's my take on graded cards:

A. If I decide to ever submit a card to PSA or BGS, the card will either be vintage (to verify that it is authentic and hasn't been altered) or from a condition sensitive set (like the black borders from the 1987 Donruss baseball set).

B. I'd never submit a newer issue to be graded, since these days... most collectors handle their cards carefully. I have picked up a few graded copies of recent issues... but they were PSA 9 or 10 and were cheaper than the cost of ungraded copies (it's a long story... but there was a vendor on COMC, who was dumping his port at ridiculous prices).

C. I would only consider purchasing graded cards from PSA or BGS. If I did pick up a graded card from a different company, it would have to be cheap as a raw copy... and I'd probably end up popping it out of it's case.

D. I have purchased a couple of PSA/DNA encapsulated & authenticated autographs of postcards too... but once again... only if the price was in the same range as raw copies.

E. When it comes to my graded card collection, there's a minimum grade I'm looking for...

1990's - PSA 10
1980's - PSA 9 or better
1970's - PSA 8 or better
1960's - PSA 7 or better
1950's - PSA 6 or better

F. I know it sounds like I have a bunch of graded cards, but in reality I have less than 100 in my collection. Since I don't store the majority of my collection at my house... I don't know for sure... but my guess is that it's more in the 40 to 60 range.

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has to say about the topic.

In the next few minutes, I will be turning off comment moderation and you will be able to see everyone's picks for tonight's game. However I won't be updating point totals until probably tomorrow night. My Macbook Pro has seen it's last days... and last night it finally moved on to computer utopia. Unfortunately, it had all of my contest files on there, so I will have to create a new excel document from the screen shot on my blog.

It kind of sucks, because it's been my sidekick for the past 4 years... but I definitely got the most out of the 2k I spent on it. I'll have to check into my finances to see if I can afford a new one. Until then, I'll be posting everything from my desktop... which means that I won't have the flexibility I had before.

Okay... it's about that time to see who picked what for tonight's Rangers & Blue Jays game. Best of luck to everyone!

Happy Sunday... and Sayonara!


  1. To me, it takes the fun out of it. Cards are organic to me and I really would rather have a good card out of its plastic shell than a 'graded' card.

    Besides, reading a lot of books lately has turned me off of the grading biz. It's a total crapshoot still.

  2. I am not against graded cards per se, in fact I am passively collecting a PSA 9 birth year set (76 Topps) and a PSA 10 Fred McGriff master set (I am #1 on the PSA site). But the majority of my collection is not ever going to be graded. I like the feel of a card in my hand and my collection is for me alone, so grading is unnecessary.

    I have thought about grading some of my lower serially numbered cards, just for safety's sake. I wouldn't care for the PSA number on it, but accidents and/or spills can happen and I wouldn't want anything to happen to a card that would be fairly expensive to replace.

  3. I don't care for graded cards, and the fact that a card is graded doesn't factor in to my decision to buy it. The only time it would come in handy would be when I want to verify that a card is authentic. I don't need a card that is absolutely perfectly flawless. In fact, it bothers me when I see people grading cards to place a premium on them when selling.

    I couldn't tell the difference between a PSA 9 and PSA 10, and I don't really care. Eventually I hope to pick up some cards where grading might matter, maybe a Pujols or Ichiro autograph or a really nice patch, but even then having a PSA 10 would make the card out of my price range.

    Grading (other than authenticity verification) was a good idea on paper, but now, just like everything else, it's just a way for people to charge more for the same card.

  4. I am indifferent to graded cards for the most part. I have a few (maybe 15 or 20) that I have gotten on the cheap and that's the only reason I got them. I do see value in grading vintage cards as they are much more rare and pricing id much more based on condition but again I don't chase graded, even in the case of the few vintage I get but I also would never turn doyn a card just because it is slabbed.

  5. I'm not a big fan of grading. I get the idea of it for vintage cards, but it bugs me when I see newer cards graded just to be sold at a higher price on ebay.

  6. Ungraded the whole way. And if grading must be done, the current size of slabs have to be altered to something a little more slimmed down. C'mon, it's 2011 and the graded slab hasn't changed since it's inception as far as the size of them.

  7. I was watching Blyleven's induction speech and the cameras panned to a kid showing a graded 1990 Leaf Blyleven card. I started laughing.

  8. A. If I decide to ever submit a card to PSA or BGS,I will probably very soon thereafter either voluntarily submit my head for examination, or be contacting a divorce lawyer cause Mrs. Dawgbones would definitely be ready for it then.

    B. I'd never submit a newer issue to be graded, since these days... I get all of my newer issue cards either straight from a pack and take good care of them, or I get them from you guys, and I know that they've been taken care as well or better than I would have.

    C. I would only consider purchasing graded cards from PSA or BGS only after the settlement (see A above) or if it was as cheap or cheaper than a raw copy.

    D. I have purchased a couple of authenticated autograph photos (if you count pictures of the signer applying said signature, or a "guarantee" from the seller) and really only get an autograph in person when I can, or in-expensive enough that I feel the purchase worth the price even if it was not real. I don't sell (or trade much) for autographs that I have not received in a pack (of players that I don't collect) and Mrs. Dawgbones would probably get the better celebrity autos in the settlement!!

    E. When it comes to my graded card collection, there's no real minimum grade I'm looking for... as I don't have any graded cards and don't have a real interest in them!

    F. I know it sounds like I don't have a bunch of graded cards, but in reality I have less than 1 in my collection. If someone out there in the blogosphere would like to donate one to my collection, then I would actually have more than the 0 that I do now.

    G. One of my more eccentric categories consists of cards that would never be graded, and I really don't care much for owning things that I can't touch, I'd probably not pursue many graded cards if I did not get a really GReat deal on them.

    H. As with my comic book collection, I buy cards for the enjoyment and challenge of finishing a set, finding cards that fit my other goals & categories, and for the fellowship I've found out here on the World Wide. I'd never view them as an investment. My wife does not understand my new found hobby decision but has at least given up trying to convince me to sell my Catfish Hunter baseball that I got when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. (back before a few of you guys were born!!)

  9. I never have a problem picking up slabbed vintage if the price is right, and I will occasionally buy a newer card that's been graded if it's within my range.

    I'll probably eventually send in a card or two to be graded.

    Basically, it is neither a deal breaker or a deal maker for me.

    PSA, BGS, SGC.

  10. I hate em. I've never had a card graded, won;t have one graded and got rid of the two I had in my player collection.

    Cards were made to be handled, that's my opinion.

  11. DISLIKE - graded cards were created by dealers in the 1980s to overinflate the value of the cards that they had and under value the cards the average collector had.

  12. they have their place in the hobby. I kinda wonder why certain cards are graded. New issues, or 1/1's... that blows my mind.

    If the price is right for my player collections I wouldn't hesitate, but not for cards I need for set building.

    Also, I know of some guys who submit their ttm's for protection and display purposes. That works for me.

    But the real problem is the people doing them. Their better customers get the better grades etc..... no good.

  13. I definitely see the value of grading for vintage. I see virtually no value in graded modern cards. Since I collect very little vintage and tons of modern, I have very little use for graded cards.

  14. The only graded cards I own are because the graded version was cheaper at the time than the raw version.As for sending them in to grade,it's a expensive and risky business if you live overseas.Having said that I have sent my Alex Torres gold refractor in because Colin at SCR had 5 free gradings available.If it comes back 7.5 no problem as it's pc anyway.

  15. I've got a few graded cards. A PSA 10 Ichiro Victory rookie (it was cheap), an old Beckett 10 Topps Bo Jackson rookie (it was a gift), a nice looking PSA 3 '61 Maris (the price was right) and recently, I got a PSA 2 '48 Bowman Pete Reiser (way cheaper than I should have). I don't go looking for them, but I don't turn my nose up at them for the right price. I'll actually be getting my first card slabbed soon, as (for its safety because those corners are crazy sensitive, and for the sake of authentication in a sea of counterfeits even though I know I've got the real deal because I've handled a bunch of '86 Fleers before) I'll be getting my Jordan rookie done. Not a practice I plan on making a habit of, though.

  16. I have around 6 graded cards. One came in a trade with the Troll and the rest came as box toppers in some Donruss product from the turn of the Millenium. I've never considered getting a card graded either, but I don't have a problem with other people grading them. It seems silly to see some brand new mojo card in a slab, but to each his own. I think it makes more sense to get really old cards graded if you're into it, but I'd rather be able to feel my cards. Not in a creepy way either.

    At least I got the Blue Jays score right!!

  17. Graded cards aren't a big deal to me. I have just started collecting vintage cards and since most are new to me, the condition isn't a big deal. Graded cards are pricier so that may make me for something cheaper.

  18. For me it'd have to be an autograph & as protection for the card. Eg cards like 2007 UD Black Prodigious jersey/Auto's man they're thick!

  19. I'm of the opinion that I still want to be able to touch my cardboard. I know that some of the rarer and older cards are worth more if they are sealed and graded. Would we as kids ever had any fun with a slabbed card? I don't own any, and probably never will.

  20. Graded cards mean NOTHING to me. I would never buy one, as the extra premium could be used to buy other cards, and I would never have a card graded, since it's staying in my personal collection no matter what it graded out as. And slabbed, it doesn't fit in a 9-pocket.

  21. I think grading is fine for some, but I don't need it.

    Perhaps if you were collecting the most prime examples of a limited run like the guy from Texas who has a collection of all of Mantle's cards graded between 9 and 10.

    In truth, I don't get excited seeing a highly graded card. I think there is too much reliance on pricing and grading.

  22. I have a few that I picked up in trade. I too have never had any cards graded but thought about it. Probably never will though. I like to be able to sort and touch and display. So for me it takes away some of the fun.

  23. not really into graded stuff...on vintage material I like low grade anyway (much cheaper)

    the only way I would consider grading is on a vintage card worth hundreds...and I am not really into expensive stuff anyway

    on new stuff, I do not care that one card got a 9 and another got an 8..not spending big money on newer material anyway..


  24. Love to see how comments vary on this topic... which was expected. I'll have an update up within the next hour or so.