Grading can be expensive, however — $5 to $20 per card, depending on its estimated value, plus another $20 or so for shipping each way. So it's only worth doing if you think your cards will sell for a worthwhile amount.
NOTES ON COLLECTING
Topps issued its first cards in 1951, and is the most well-known publisher of baseball cards. The company last year also won exclusive rights to use the logos for Major League Baseball and its teams. But issuers such as Panini and Upper Deck have their followers too, and you may prefer the style of those cards.
A 12-pack of Topps cards costs about $2 at big box retailers. Cards are randomly packaged, so there's no guarantee on which players you'll get, said Warren Friss, the company's general manager.
If you don't have the patience to collect cards one pack at a time, Topps also started selling entire sets in the mid-1980s. Sets have 660 cards and cost about $60 online at www.topps.com or at hobby stores. Topps also issues several special editions a year.
As for which players and teams to hold onto, it's no secret which cards will gain the most value.
"Collect players you believe are going to do well, rookies you think are going to have long, good careers, and stand the test of time," Friss said.
Beyond that, collecting should be inspired by your love of baseball and the cards themselves.
"They're meant to be fun, and looked at and played with," Friss said. "It's not always about making an investment. For some people it's just the fun of looking at their heroes."
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