Important Terms to Know about Collecting Baseball Cards
Before buying collectible baseball cards from a dealer, you should familiarize yourself with the following terms.
Grading: A grading system tells collectors and dealers what condition a baseball card is in. While this can make trading, selling, and buying baseball cards much easier, there are now several grading services that use their own independent systems. This can cause some confusion.
SCD Grading Guide: The predominant card grading system created by Sports Collectors Digest in 1981. It includes several grades, including mint condition, labeled as MT, for cards in perfect condition. Near mint and mint, labeled as NM or M, for cards that do not show any creases and have at least three square corners. Excellent, labeled as EX, for cards that show some wear but are still in good condition and do not have any creases. Fair, labeled as either F or Fr, for cards that show considerable wear, printing mistakes, and damage.
Rookie Card: The card printed for a baseball player's first year. Since some players have rookie cards for playing in the Minor League and Major League, they can actually have more than one. These are often the most valuable cards for players that go on to establish excellent careers.
Reprints: Reprints are baseball cards that have been produced years after their initial printing. In most cases, someone will reprint the baseball card because it has become highly valuable or the player has become very popular. The reprints, however, do not have nearly the same value as original prints. In many cases, they are nearly worthless to collectors.