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The Crazy Things Some People Do To Sports Cards

crazy things done to cards

Most of us love our cards dearly. I once had a nightmare that my entire collection went up in flames, and I woke up sweaty. But some people are entirely careless, clueless, or utterly insane.

They do things to their cards that no sentient human should. What were the worst examples we could find? Read our feature on crazy things done to cards to find out.

Some people are dumb. Other people are crazy. Some people own cards

The world is filled with interesting people. We meet questionable people every day. On the road, on the line for Starbucks. At the DMV. But especially on the road. Just remember that next time someone acts irrationally, they may have a collection of cards. Here is an overview of what happens when the most deranged people out there decide to buy some cards.

Getting them wet

One of the most damaging things a person can do to their cards is get them wet. We would need more time actually to take our cards for a swim. But some people are so careless with their cards that they might as well have done so.

Here is a story from one Blowout Card Forum user:

“I just wanted to share a story that made me weep tonight. So, about 15 years ago, an older gentleman at the church I worked at knew I collected cards and asked if I wanted to see his. Well, of course, I did. As he tells it, he never remembers having cards, but after his mom died, he went through the attic and found a box with his name on it.

In it were about 200 cards from 1951-1953. (no, there was no 52 Topps mantle, but there was a 53 mantle, tom landry RC, and some other unique cards). They were in the best shape I have ever seen early 50s cards in. They were all in 4 corner screwdowns. I tried to convince him to let me have them graded both so he knew what he had and for protection. He declined.

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I am friends with his grandson, and when the older gentleman passed away about 5 years ago, I asked him about the cards. He shared that they were currently in possession of his uncle. I was again turned away after encouraging them to be graded.

Then what happened?

Well, tonight, I hop on Facebook and see a picture of a bunch of cards in 4 corner screwdowns with the question, “Does anyone know how to dry out cards?”

Just about made me throw up. The cards were submerged entirely and soaking wet. I have connected with him and given him all the advice I can to salvage anything. Please let me know if he ever decides they are a lost cause, and don’t throw them away. Anyway, figured you guys here could understand my pain!”

Leaving cards in the heat or cold

Keep your precious cards out of an attic or basement. Those two parts of the house are most liable to be exposed to extreme heat, cold, or moisture. And if you do, do NOT keep them in screwdowns because, as this unfortunate person found out, they do not seal the cards. Can you imagine? A 1953 Mantle?

And basements aren’t any better. They might be worse. One Redditt user complained: “Over 20 years of collecting MTG cards. Ruined by a water line break in the basement.” Attics and basements could be better. But storage units are often even worse. One Blowout Forums user learned the hard way:

“I’ve been out of the card game for about 6 years and just got the itch again today. Went and picked up a box of NFL Crown Royale and pulled crap. So I go to my storage unit and get all my cards out afterward.

I decided to go on a hunt that year and obtain every rookie autograph from the 08-09 SP Rookie Threads. I got everyone I needed….put them all in cases (snap cases) when I get them out of storage. EVERY card’s foil print is worn off in one place or another. I’m guessing the snap cases were too tight, and moisture just ate away the finish?”

Yikes. One particularly mean individual responded, “So you’re from Pittsburgh? What made you think putting your cards in an unheated storage unit was a good idea?

Leaving them where animals can get to them

Some crappy things happen to cards when you have pets around. Literally. As one Blowout Forum user recalled:

“I store most of my collection in a safe, secure, climate-controlled location.

But I had two places for the sets I am actively working on, one at the bottom of my walk-in closet for easy access. I was building a complete set of serialized 2011 Chrome Refractors /50 and above.

My husky/samoyed mix wasn’t feeling well and had diarrhea for a few days. One day I went out to get lunch, came back, and he decided he couldn’t hold it in anymore and went in the box. Every card was in a top loader and penny sleeve, but some couldn’t be saved.

Lesson – never store any cards below poop level.”

Leaving them where children can find

Children can be just as dangerous as pets in these situations. Sure, they probably won’t go number two on your cards (we hope). But that doesn’t mean there is any less danger. Even worse, your parents might blame you for the damage. As one young Redditt user reported:

My brother went into my room, took my binder, and damaged the binder and the cards. My parents say it’s my fault they are ruined because I ‘left them out in the open’ in my room. They were literally in above my bed and not in the open.”

From the comments, we learned that younger siblings can do all sorts of terrible things to cards:

“When I was younger, my little brother took my shining Charizard to school and traded it for shiny pencils.” And another user commiserated: “Same thing happened to me a few weeks ago, except my brother cut and bent my cards; sorry about what happened, I can feel ur pain, lol.”

But at least one person had helpful advice: “Remember this for his best man’s speech.”

Tearing open jersey cards

The patches inside many jersey patch cards include a little tag noting which player had worn the jersey. Daniel Noethe, the founder of DMN Takeover, decided to run a little experiment. He would take a bunch of jersey cards and rip them open, to see what they contained.

What did he find? He tore a Casey Mize card, a Taywan Taylor card, a Jeurys Familia, and a Doug Baldwin card. He discovered that some cards, like Familia, do not have an identifying tag. Our friend destroyed several cards to make a shocking revelation: that the jersey pieces belonged to the correct players.

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If you think that’s bad, what about the YouTube channel that cut up a bunch of RPAs to “see what’s inside?” The guys behind the appropriately named “What Inside” channel aren’t hobby people.

So, I guess it’s understandable that they would show no reverence for cards. But they brought Geoff from Sports Card Investor to join them (and he will feature in this article). So what is his excuse? They start the video very accurately saying that they will “look back in many years at this with disgust.” Why wait that long, guys?

They brought a Malik Monk Spectra RPA and an Absolute Kevin Heurter. RPA, a Corey Davis National Treasures RPA, Jalen Reagor RPA, and a Miles Sanders Elegance RPA. And the one that pained me the most was a Triple Threads card with John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado, and Edgar Martinez patches /27. But I was relieved that they didn’t pick all of them apart. Instead, they went for the Jalen Reagor RPA because it was pretty elaborate.

They cut the card apart and said, “We are trying to be careful with this. Which sounds funny to say.” Indeed, it does.

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Sending them out for free

Have you ever received bonus cards with your order? It’s something nice that some sellers do, and I love getting them. But one seller went over the top. Accidentally:

“I once bought a Joe Montana rookie BGS 9.5 for $2,125. Busted it out of the case to send as a crossover to PSA. PSA sent it back and said it was trimmed. I sent it back to BGS, told them it was originally graded by BGS as a 9.5, and included the gold label. BGS sent it back and said it was trimmed. So basically, I lost $2,175. I put the card in a top loader and back in a bubble mailer I had lying around, thinking I would send it to SGC. At the time, I was sending out tons of cards every week, and I accidentally grabbed that bubble mailer put another card in it, and sent it off. So someone got a free, possible 9.5 BGS gem mint Montana rookie. Of course, whoever got it never messaged me…

If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey, you could call this whole incident “stupid tax.”

Other shipping disasters

Buyers sometimes throw out precious cards on the other side of the transaction. Here is one example:

“I’ve accidentally thrown away cards in bubble mailers that I just slit open to verify the contents, not knowing I forgot to remove the cards. Did that to a Sidney Crosby Young Guns and an Ovechkin Beehive Auto – on the same day. This was back in the 20+ item mail days I used to have.”

Or cutting them:

“I can’t remember what the card was…it wasn’t anything real high-end or anything, but I do remember one occasion where a guy mailed me a card in a bubble mailer, and I used some scissors to cut open the bubble mailer, and ended up cutting the corner off the card in the process.”

Breaking the slab

Here are CardLines, experts on breaking slabs, and have the ultimate guide on how to do so. But the results can be dire if you need to know what you are doing. One individual found this out the hard way:

“True story. I recently purchased this card on the bay for $152, Graded PSA 9. I received it Thursday this week and said, “damn, this card looks like it should grade Gem via BGS with a little cleaning up. The Centering is great, edges are good. The surface needs to be polished”. I’m feeling ambitious now. So, 15 minutes ago, I got the bright idea and decided to bust the card out of its PSA slab. I’ve never broken a PSA slab, but I cracked enough BGS to think I’m A-ok. I get my handy pliers ready, size up the PSA slab to get the best area, steady my grip, and apply pressure down on the top of the slab. *CRACK* the entire half of the slab breaks off and folds the card in half like a piece of paper!

What happened next?

I also sliced my finger from the shattered plastic, and I’m now bleeding too. Shocked and pissed off, I didn’t know whether to throw the pliers through my front window or stab myself in the eye for effing the card up.

Girlfriend (startled) bounces off the couch to see if everything is ok?!. I tell her it’s fabulous as I walk outside and yell at the top of my lungs. I lit a cigarette and am writing this post as we speak. Anyway, I will now be severely inebriated because of my stupid decision. Lesson learned.”

The peanut gallery at Blowout Forums was not impressed., “Well, you’re not too bright, are ya?”

However, I admire how he kept his cool in front of his significant other. Shows he has good judgment in some aspects!”

Giving cards to your ungrateful child

One father gave his card collection to his son for his 18th birthday. But when he discovered their worth, he had some serious second thoughts. It featured on this exciting edition of AITA (Am I The Asshole):

I (19M) was gifted my dad’s sports card collection for my 18th birthday. He had boxes of them from when he was growing up. I started looking into how you could get them graded. Finally shipped the best ones out a few months ago and returned them last week. I was happy to see how highly some of them were graded. I researched what these cards would go for, and my jaw dropped. This money would help me pay for college and still have a decent amount left over.

I visited my parents, and my dad mentioned something about those cards. I mistakenly said how much some of these cards are worth. He didn’t have much of a reaction that night.

The next day, I got a long text from my dad saying he gave it some thought and wanted his cards back. The money would help him and my mom pay for their dream vacation. I thought it was a joke, but he was serious. I told him sorry, but they were a gift, and I intended to use this money for college.

Then what happened?

Since then, I’ve been getting hurtful texts from my parents telling me how selfish I am. They said I was an asshole for wanting to sell these cards because they were a gift. Even though they would do the same thing if I gave them back.

I planned on getting my dad an excellent gift for his birthday with some of my money, but I’m starting to think he doesn’t deserve anything. AITA?”

The commenters on Redditt almost all sided with the son. What do you think?

Shipping cards like an insane person

There is nothing we love more than mail day in this hobby. The excitement of seeing that package in our box is unparalleled. And 90% of the time, people do a stellar job shipping our stuff. But the other 10% can be the source of traumatic night terrors.

Here is one example, as recorded in the Jackpot Sports Cards Blog:

“I opened a large shipment I ordered from an industry mainstay (who will remain unnamed).

Several products were in that order, with the most valuable, unique, and delicate item being a 1966 Somportex James Bond 007 unopened wax box.

The least valuable product in that order (which also happened to be the heaviest and bulkiest) was a six-count sealed case of 1980 Topps Superman II rack pack boxes.

When I opened the package, my jaw hit the floor, as I found the ultra rare James Bond box at the very bottom of the parcel, with only one thin sheet of bubble wrap between it and the hefty and bulky Superman II case placed on top.

The high-end 007 box was severely damaged. It was crushed so badly that the box itself had split at all four corners, and as you can see from the image [above], the packs within the parcel were trying to escape through the tension holes caused by the weight of the Superman II case.”

Throwing cards around  

The same blog recalls another case wherein: “Another shipping memory that I will never forget happened when I was at the Dallas Card Show in Allen, Texas a few years ago, and had to watch in horror as a driver from one of the largest United States ground carriers threw 30-40 packages from his vehicle as high as 8-12 feet in the air, and then cringe as I witnessed each one of them land with a thud on the concrete below.”

Other people store their priceless vintage cards in….a laundry bag. One Reddit user reported finding “a big bag of ’70s and misc sports cards in mid to bad condition. I looked through briefly and took some names I knew. Ex. Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron. But I’d be willing to look or give the lot if you have any niche 70s players. You wouldn’t mind a card in bad condition.”

After some thought, the poster added: “Note: this is how I found the cards. it hurt me that they were rubber banded too.” Yes, I believe we are all in much pain right now.

The garbage can debacle

No one can blame that guy because he found the set that way. But what about a guy who stored many cards in a garbage bag? Or the guy who bought that bag for $50?

Another Reddit user posted: “Someone was selling cards in bulk, so I bought them. I got two bags of cards for $50 total, and I have no idea if that’s a good price. My kids are getting into collecting them and will enjoy going through them. It seems to be mainly baseball, but there’s also football and basketball, with some hockey thrown in. I know nothing about collecting cards.”

One helpful user replied, “The trash bags are worth more than the cards.” I wish I could disagree.

Signing your own cards

One collector will remember a mistake they made forever. After buying a Paul Rabil rookie card for $7,000, he went to the stadium to get it signed. The superstar obliged him, but then disaster struck. He should have closed the autographing sharpie and marked the back of the card.   

https://www.facebook.com/reel/852689332944839

Separating booklets

Card booklets are one of the most remarkable innovations of the high-end hobby era. They involve two or three panels, often featuring autographs and patches. Many go for top dollar because their print runs are usually minimal.

When we get one of these, we treat it with reverence. But some of us are entirely deranged. In one eBay listing, someone tried to sell a Ryan Clemens 2016 Topps Triple Threads Auto Relic Combo Booklet that they had separated into its parts. That begs the simple question: WHY?

One lenient commentator on Reddit tried to explain it away, saying, “I’m going to give them a bit of leeway on this. Those booklets in 2016 were held on by the smallest little bits of tape. Booklets weren’t as big of a thing then. I bet the person who opened this got this and thought, “Huh, the pack says 5 cards per pack; these must be my cards!”

Bringing sports card sealed cases on a plane

TSA is known for many things. But care for our valuable collectibles is undoubtedly not one of them. Geoff from Sports Card Investor (again) learned that when he brought a sealed case of Prizm (or tried to) on his flight.

They cut it open and went through everything as if he was flying in from Medellín in the 1980s. Most of the comments were sympathetic, but a couple laid down some hard truths.

Like, “I mean, what the hell did you expect bringing a package on a plane” and “Seriously Geoff, you ship them home safely… rookie mistake.”

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Sticking pins through cards

If you are into vintage cards, you have undoubtedly seen this more than once. Cards with pin holes in them. No one will grade a Wander Franco card with a legit pinhole stuck through it. But people understandably keep and grade Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams cards with holes.

Even a low grade of those cards has historical value. Indeed, as one Blowout Forums member said, “Pinholes are our friends. They can make unattainable cards obtainable while pretty much ensuring that they aren’t altered.”

Good point. Also, we have recently noticed a trend of giving pinhole cards (ones with a hole rather than a tear) better grades. Think of a PSA 2 or 3 instead of the 1 you would get in the past.

However, I can’t help but wonder how so many old cards have pinholes in them. Are they all careless mistakes? The result of a world where people sewed a lot more and cared about baseball cards a lot less? Or were there many psychos who wanted to stick a hole in Mickey Mantle back in the day? Maybe Red Sox fans? We will never know.

Gluing them

There are many ways to organize cards, all of which have drawbacks. But some have more of a downside than others. For example, several individuals have glued their cards onto albums or cardboard.

For example, here is a Topps 1977 Star Wars set glued into an album. Nope, those are not stickers but rather old-fashioned gold cards. The person who bought them posted in the Collectors Universe Forum:  “I just received an album of 1977 Stars Wars cards that are glued to an album. Does anyone have techniques to get the cards out with as little damage as possible? These cards are similar in thickness to the 1980’s Panini stickers. I would keep the cards in the album, but it is missing 2 cards. I have a steamer and was going to give that a try.”

Writing on them

Of all the crazy things on this list, the last one may be the most egregious. People who write on their cards. I cannot imagine what kind of antisocial cretin would sit and scribble on a card. One particularly amusing version of this is people who change the player’s team after a trade. Why wait for next year or Topps Update when you can get it down yourself?

But the worst are people who draw devil horns or mustaches on players. Come on, folks. Can you imagine defacing Hall of Famer Yogi Berra like that?  

I dug deeper into this phenomenon and discovered that people out there deface baseball cards for a living. Most notably, the folks over at Baseball Card Vandals. They have a wide variety of cards with bad drawings and penis jokes.

They even did this to Ken Griffey Jr. cards, for heaven’s sake. Is nothing sacred anymore? The guys behind this are the LA-based team of brothers Beau and Bryan Abbott.

Luckily, they don’t do it to the iconic cards. At least not yet. They explain, “We still haven’t marked any valuable cards yet. From our generation, only ten cards are worth anything, and we’re just too cowardly. Something deep inside tells us that marking up a Ken Griffey Jr. 1989 Upper Deck is just dumb. And the more pathetic and worthless the original card, the funnier the final product usually is. Our brand is nothing without the unfortunate bodies and faces of forgettable ’80s middle relievers.”

Laminating them

It almost makes sense. We laminate our ID cards so that they last longer. Therefore, why not laminate our sports cards? Indeed that is the best way to protect them. Right? Asked this question: “I’ve been thinking of laminating my cards, but so far, the reaction from the community has been on par with throat f***** a child’s corpse. What’s wrong with laminating them? It’s much more reliable than sleeves, and lamination lasts much longer.” A colorful metaphor if I have ever seen one.

But, of course, it is almost impossible to delaminate cards, and the process can ruin the edges. It makes them worthless. Nonetheless, a surprising amount of laminated sports cards are available on eBay. Luckily, the vast majority of them are junk wax stuff.

Final word on crazy things done to cards

I have written many hobby articles. This one was the most tragic of all. Aside from our review of the 2022 Topps Update, of course. We have seen people deface their cards for all kinds of reasons.

They are careless, stupid, curious, and have a lousy sense of humor. But if there is one thing we can learn from all this, it’s the following: take care of your cards. Or you may end up in our next article.

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim

Shaiel Ben-Ephraim is the emeritus editor of Cardlines. He continues to write for several hobby outlets, including this one and Cardbase. He collects primarily vintage baseball and soccer and has a weird obsession with 1971 Topps.

In his spare time, Shaiel is sobbing into his bourbon when the Mets lose and playing Dungeons and Dragons. In a past life, Dr. Ben-Ephraim was a political science professor, journalist, and diplomat. But cards are more fun.
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