Whether you flipped, traded or stuck them between your bicycle spokes, a visit to the Baseball Card King at 5205 W. 95th St. is likely to rekindle many fond childhood memories.
Nestled between Annie’s Ltd. and the Goal Post Pub, the Baseball Card King hits a grand slam with its full line of vintage and modern-era sports trading cards, sports card sets, collection supplies, boxes, holders and sports memorabilia.
The Oak Lawn shop is the second sports collectible shop for owner Brian Jadzak. The original Baseball Card King has been doing business in Plainfield since 2009.
“Every new product we have in stock is purchased directly from manufacturers,” Jadzak said, who started collecting baseball cards as a kid growing up in Tinley Park. “We also buy a lot of private collections.”
Baseball cards became “assets” in the 1980s when baby boomers realized that collectors would pay top dollar for their shoeboxes of modern era cards.
The most valuable card today is a near-mint condition, 1909-1911 Honus Wagner rookie card inserted as a promotional item in pouches of tobacco by the American Tobacco Company. The “T206” Wagner card was purchased for $451,000 by hockey great Wayne Gretzky in 1991. The same card, after passing through Gretzky’s hands, sold for $2.8 million in 2008, according to the sportscardfun website.
After World War I and the federal government’s successful breakup of the American Tobacco Company monopoly, candy and gum companies began issuing baseball cards.
Most of the Baseball Card King's vintage cards are located in the Plainfield store, the oldest a 1909 T206 “tobacco card” of Chicago White Sox G. Davis.
“Tobacco cards in good shape are hard to find,” Jadzak said.
If $2.8 million is too rich for your blood, Baseball Card King has thousands of cards for under $100. A 1950s era Nellie Fox or a 1983 Ron Kittle card both go for $45 for the diehard White Sox fan on your list. Gift cards are available.
Newbies can get started on their collections with cards priced as low as a $1.50.
Baseball Card King also buys cards, especially pre-1985 singles and sets of baseball, football, basketball and hockey cards. After 1985, the store is only interested in complete sets. Jadzak won’t quote prices based on a phone call.
“In the late 1980s and 1990s companies produced cards by the truckload,” he said.
Jadzak plans to start offering autograph events at the Oak Lawn store after the holidays. He’s also hiring and if the right person becomes available “they’ll have a position after the holidays.”
Baseball Card King has extended holiday hours and is open every day from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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