PSA Glossary

Sports Lingo

Like all collectibles, the sports memorabilia market has its own terms and slang. The following is a brief definition and explanation of the most frequently used sports collecting terms.

Note:This is a work in progress and we would love to hear your comments and suggestions. Send your thoughts to [email protected].

baseball cap
A hat worn by a baseball player. Game used caps are very collectible, as are signed ones.
baseball card
A sports card that pictures a baseball player. Baseball cards are the heart of the sports collectibles market. A vibrant national market for baseball cards emerged in the late 1970's. The first baseball card was issued in 1886.
Baseball Hall of Fame
Located in Cooperstown, New York, the Baseball Hall of Fame features thousands of timeless treasures that tell the history of baseball. More importantly, it features bronze plaques of 200+ members of whom have been enshrined. In collecting terms, a player who is a member of the Hall of Fame is most likely of highest demand.
basketball card
A card that features a basketball player or team. Bowman first issued basketball cards in 1948. The issue was not successful, and basketball cards were not produced again for another 10 years, when Topps gave it a shot. Their line of basketball cards was also unsuccessful. In 1961, Fleer gave it a try, but to no avail. Topps again produced cards from 1969 to 1981, only to give up production that never reached the levels of the ever-popular baseball card series’ that made the company a success. Cards were not issued for another five years, when Fleer produced the now-famous 1986 Fleer set, which includes the rookie card of Michael Jordan. Fleer’s 1986 set was the start of a successful rise in popularity of basketball cards. Today, basketball cards of all years are thriving and very collectible.
Baseball bats are very collectible. The most valuable bats are those that are used in games by professional players. Autograph collectors may also use bats that are not game used for athletes to sign.
Batter Up
Obviously, a well-used term by baseball umpires. More importantly, it is the name of the popular set that was issued from 1934 to 1936. The set consists of 192 blank-backed, die-cut cards, which were issued in two different series, the latter being the more difficult. These cards were printed in either black and white or several different color tints.
A bubble gum-making subsidiary of Topps which made baseball cards from 1959-71 and again in 1988-1991.
A well-known publisher of sports card price guides. The first Beckett price guide was published in 1979. This guide is widely credited for ushering in the modern sports card collectibles market.
Black Sox
A nickname for the members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox team that threw the World Series. Among the members of the Black Sox was Joe Jackson, one of the greatest stars the game ever knew. “Eight Men Out” is a well-known movie that tells the story of this infamous event.
blank back
A card that has no printing on the reverse side. A handful of sets were designed to have no printing on the backs, while others were a result of the manufacturing error. Blank backs that are manufacturing errors usually carry a premium.
An early 20th-century collectible consisting of a square piece of felt or other fabric which came wrapped around a package of cigarettes, so-called because they were sometimes sewn together to form a blanket. Baseball players were one of the several subjects found on blankets. Most popular are the 5 1/4" X 5 1/4" B18 blankets from 1914.
blue back
A card with a blue back. This term is usually connected to the 1951 Topps Blue Back set.
The part of a card that surrounds the photo. Traditionally, most cards were printed with white borders, while many modern cards have colored borders or even no borders whatsoever (full bleed). A card's centering is based on how well these borders are aligned
A well-known card manufacturer that began production in 1948 with baseball, football, and basketball cards. Their basketball production was halted that same year, while baseball and football cards were produced through 1955. The following year, Topps purchased the company and ended their rivalry in the sports card market. In 1989, Topps once again began production of cards with the Bowman name. Cards with this brand name are prominent in the modern sports card market.
boxing card
A card that pictures a boxer. The most well known are the 1948 Leaf and the 1951 Topps Ringside.
Slang for “open”. You may hear a collector say, “I am going to break some wax.” This means that he or she is going to open packs of cards.