When I first started collecting baseball cards in 1987, it seemed like the entire nation had gone cuckoo for cocoa puffs about sports cards. In only its third year of production, the Beckett Baseball Card Monthly (BBCM) magazine had become what seemed like the Wall Street Journal for collectors. The masses were really beginning to actually "invest" in the sports card hobby like it was really some sort of stock market. Newer card prices were skyrocketing only a couple years after production, while vintage card prices continued to climb steadily each month.
It seems to me that I was introduced to the hobby at the same time that the rest of nation was also "discovering" baseball cards on a grand scale. There were reports of people actually suing their own parents for throwing away their baseball cards as kids only decades earlier (BBCM, 1/89). Card dealers were experiencing robberies and even violence at the hands of desperate prospectors. There was really a craze all over about baseball cards in the late '80s that everybody seemed to be openingly talking about. People were hoarding new product in bulk, hoping to gain huge profits from resale years later. Confidence in the card industry was so great, that most people seemed to think that all you had to do was hold on to your product and watch it increase in value with age. I still remember my first '70s card ('77T G.Sutherland), my first '60s card ('69T B.Allison), and my first '50s card ('59T R.Nixon), which I kept in a plexi-glass holder until the 2000's.
In 1987, history had proven that older cards were worth more than newer ones, so it seemed that all you had to do was hold on to your cards for a few years while watching the value go up, up, and up (like a guarantee). Vintage card prices have since stabilized, but remain stable, while those late-80's to early-90's card prices have flopped. Topps, Fleer, and Donruss were the only major card brands available throughout much of the '80s until Score came out in 1988, and then Upper Deck and Bowman in 1989. I chose to collect the Topps brand almost exclusively from the start. Much of my decision had to do with tradition, since I knew that if I ever started collections from my earliest years (1977-1980), they would all have to be from the Topps brand anyways.
I continued collecting Topps baseball cards in 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1991. I watched the price per pack of cards go up from 40 cents, to 45 cents, and then 50 cents, while the number of cards per pack fell from 17 to 15. All along, the one constant was always that hard stick of gum. I'm not sure exactly what led me to quit collecting cards, and then in turn, completely forget about the hobby for almost an entire decade following the end of the '91 season. Perhaps it was adolescence, or my new driver's license, or maybe even an intuitive understanding that the entire baseball card industry was about to crash.