The last few weeks of the hobby have been unlike anything I've ever seen before. Earlier this year, the passing of Kobe Bryant drove his card prices up to levels they had never been at before. Recently, there have been prices rising almost universally across the card collecting industry - 2020 Topps Series 2 pre-sale prices are higher than I can ever imagine, PSA graded cards from my childhood (80s/90s) are reaching prices that are beyond belief and ESPN's "The Last Dance" has substantially increased the price of any/all Michael Jordan cards.
A few examples I thought I would share:
I had purchased a PSA 10 1989 Donruss Curt Schilling RC back in 2015 for roughly $12-$15, as I was starting to gather some items from the Red Sox registries on the PSA site. Despite my hatred of him due to his political views and overall personality, he does have one of the most memorable moments in Red Sox history. While looking on COMC, I noticed that someone posted one for sale at $120. I figured it was a random person posting a card at a crazy high price, but a quick search of eBay showed that the card was selling for roughly that price. I couldn't believe my eyes and quickly posted mine for sale - there is no way this card could possibly be valued at that price. By comparison, the PSA 10 1989 Upper Deck John Smoltz has roughly the same population with PSA (so its not that the Schilling is rarer) and continues to sell for around $30-$35.
1987 Topps is a cherished set in the hobby, but there is no disagreement with the fact that it was MASS produced. Hobby boxes were as low as $15-$20 not too long ago, and if someone called a card shop asking if they'd be interested in 1987 Topps, the card shop owner would likely hang up on them or tell them the cards have almost no value. On February 17th, a PSA 10 1987 Topps Mark McGwire card (not his RC, that was in 1985 Topps) sold via auction (granted, it was PWCC) for $41. In addition to the recent card craze, supposedly ESPN announced that they were working on a McGwire/Sosa documentary similar to The Last Dance. If I look at the most recent PSA 10 sale for the McGwire card, the card has now sold for $242.50 on May 14th. Nearly a $200 increase on a card that is not his RC and from one of the most mass produced sets in history, in less than 3 months.
There are a number of other examples available. Some news outlets have picked up on the sports card craze and theorized on what could be driving it (i.e. people stuck at home, The Last Dance, Topps 2020 project, etc.) but its clear that rational decision making is no longer a consideration for some folks.
This is a good reminder that you should collect what you like, research historical pricing to help inform your decisions and remember this hobby is supposed to be FUN.
Until next time, stay at home and stay safe!