TAMPA, Fla. - While many businesses took big hits during the pandemic, sports memorabilia collecting is as strong as ever. And if you have a box of old baseball cards or collectibles in your attic, it might be time to take another look.
Michael Osacky's bag of rarities is becoming even more rewarding. He lives in Chicago and travels the country, evaluating other peoples' collections, including this week in Tampa Bay.
He says signed artifacts and baseball cards have doubled and sometimes tripled in price. He held up a handwritten letter by Ty Cobb that he says skyrocketed from $1,500 to $3,500 in value.
"There is still more stuff out there to be found," said Osacky, who is the founder of Baseball in the Attic.
People started realizing that a few weeks into the pandemic, he says, when they were suddenly daydreaming about the past, distracting themselves with documentaries and wondering if the value of their collections would hold, through up and down economies.
"They were doing lots of pondering and also lots of digging, in attics and garages, and people saying, ‘Hey, you know what? I think I had some of this stuff,’" Osacky said.
He went from getting a dozen calls per week to a dozen calls per day from people who want to know what their autographs and cards are worth.
Jeff Katz, a baseball historian and avid collector, has seen similar increases in prices as the pandemic skyrocketed demand.
He expects things like Babe Ruth autographs to stay sky-high in value, even after other goods return to pre-pandemic values.
"If history is a guide on anything, the new stuff will come down hard, but the vintage stuff tends not to come down as hard," Katz said.
The one thing that will always be impossible to evaluate, Osacky says, is how much nostalgia is worth to you.
"Sometimes I wake up in the morning, I pinch myself because I am like, ‘Wow, this is so cool. How do I get to do this?’"