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July 23, 2013

Getting carded — how to score big, or not, with baseball cards

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Troy resident Jordan Shulman holds up a “future stars” baseball card with Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken that he brought to show to sports card collector Jeff Kless during his program at the Troy Public Library July 17.

TROY — Jordan Shulman lugged a box of baseball cards he has collected since he was 9 years old to the Troy Public Library on a hot night July 17 to see if they may have some value in coming years for his son.

“Professional” sports card collector Jeff Kless explained to Shulman that most cards in the collection were worth 50 cents unless somebody collecting a complete collection needed a certain one.

Kless was there at the invitation of Troy librarian Ed Niemchak.

“Troy is a diverse, educated community,” said Cathy Russ, Troy library director. “We really try to show people there’s something for everyone at the library.”

Kless shared what he knows about baseball card collecting and buying and selling online with about 40 people during a free program at the library.

Eruj Abidi, 14, and his brother Furzaar, 9, also listened to Kless and asked him questions about their collections.

The brothers have Los Angeles Angels outfielder and 2012 Rookie of the Year Mike Trout’s signature on a photo and an autograph from Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Eruj Abidi said he hasn’t been able to get Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander’s autograph yet.

Most of the attendees said their baseball card collections were pre-1980 and a couple said the majority of their cards were from before 1950.

Kless talked about the Honus Wagner, or “holy grail of baseball cards that sold for $2.8 million;” basic storage know-how (not in the garage, basement or attic — avoid moisture and sunlight); and the history of the cards (they once were inserted in cigarette packs, Cracker Jack boxes, bubble gum and Raisin Bran cereal boxes).

Kless discussed the various brands of cards, such as Topps, Fleer and Upper Deck, and how the cards are graded.

He also said that the “steroid guys really hurt the hobby, in terms of value,” and the most popular card of current players is New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

When buying and selling, “it’s very important to know the source,” Kless said. “What’s the story behind the card or memorabilia?”

“I’m really enjoying this,” Kless told the attendees. “I love my hobby and I love the sport of baseball.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.