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].
- Short for Sports Collectors Digest.
- A sports card manufacturer which first started production in 1988.
- A publication available at sporting events used by fans to chronicle the outcome of the game.
- A scorecard that has been marked up or filled in by a sports fan.
- second-year card
- The second card of a player issued in the major sets. Usually, a second-year card is the second most expensive card of a player, following to the rookie card.
- An autograph of a celebrity that is actually done by his or her secretary or other assistant. Sports celebrities are bombarded by requests for autographs. Most don’t have the time to answer all of the requests, so some have their secretaries do the signatures.
- A group of cards that are a part of a larger set. Until the 1970s, many card manufacturers, especially Topps, issued cards in several series, which were released throughout the season.
- An entire run of cards from a given issue, including all card numbers that were produced.
- set case
factory set case
- short print
- A card that is printed in lesser numbers than the other cards in the same set. Generally, short prints have a print run of half that of the other cards.
- A commercial trade show gathering of sports collectors and dealers. Sports Collectibles shows, often referred to as card shows, began in the early 1970s. Today, there are dozens and dozens of card shows being held every weekend all over the United States. Shows are of basically two types: Smaller regional shows attended by local dealers and collectors, and national shows attended by dealers and collectors from all over the United States. The largest, and most important, sports collectibles show is the annual National Sports Collectors Show, held once a year in July or August, each year in a different major city.
- An autograph that was signed in the presence of the seller or a representative of a third party authentication service. The validity of the signed-in-the-presence status of an autograph is dependent upon the integrity and reputation of the seller or authentication service. The largest and most respected signed-in-the-presence authentication service is PSA/DNA.
- single signed ball
- This term is for baseballs that have been autographed by only one player. Balls that are single signed are worth more than ones that have multiple signatures.
- A sports card manufacturer that started production in the 1990's.
- A term used to describe a professionally graded card. You may hear a collector say: “boy, that is a nice card, why don’t you get it slabbed?”
- Also called "print snow," this word is slang for the white, flaky print defects that are frequently found on sportscards.
- Abbreviation for short print. Also, a high quality set produced by Upper Deck.
- Another name for baseball shoes or cleats.
- A manufacturer of baseball cards in the 80’s and 90’s, best known for their 3D style cards.
- Sporting Life
- Sporting Life was a major publication in the early part of the century. They issued numerous sports card sets, the most popular of which was the 1911 M116. Offered as a premium to subscribers, these cards were issued in 24 different 12-card series.
- sports card
- A card that pictures an athlete or an athletic team.
- sports collectible
- All items that are wanted by sports collectors. For example, photos of Babe Ruth are all sports collectibles whereas your sons Little League photo, unless he grows up to be the next Mark McGwire, is not a sports collectible.
- Sports Collectors Digest
- A popular weekly publication featuring advertisements placed by sports collectible dealers.
- Sports Kings
- A popular issue from 1933 that featured the top athletes from that period. The issue was produced by Goudey Gum Inc., who also released another set that same year. Both of these sets are among the most popular pre-war issues ever produced.
- Sports Market Report (SMR)
- The leading price guide for professionally graded sports cards.
- sports memorabilia
- Memorabilia (mementos) with a specific connection to a sport, sports event, and/or sports athlete.
- ST (Stain)
- Type of qualifier. The card exhibits staining which falls below the minimum standard for the grade. This could be a gum, wax, water or other type of stain.
- Residue or a mark left on the surface of a sports collectible, usually as a result of contact with a foreign substance.
- Refers to a type of card that was die cut around the player’s picture. The background section then could be folded in half, so the card could stand up by itself while the player’s picture stood alone. The most well known stand-up issues are the 1964 Topps Stand Ups and the 1934-36 Batter Up set. The cards can be difficult to obtain in high grade, as many of them were folded, thus compromising their condition.
- standard size card
- A card which measures 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" tall. In 1957, Topps baseball cards were produced in the 2 1/2" X 3 1/2" size, which set the standard for modern baseball cards.
- A player that stands out above the rest. The cream-of-the-crop.
- star card
- A card featuring a star player. In vintage material, a star card is usually a Hall of Fame member, while in modern material it is the players who dominate sports media and national advertising campaigns.
- starter set
- A group of cards that are sold and intended to be a base for a collector to build a set upon.
- Starting Lineup
- Toy action figures that depict sports athletes. These are made of plastic and commonly come in a sealed package with a baseball card. These figures are very collectable and are most valuable when in their original packages.
- A card with an adhesive back. There are some 80s sticker sets that are smaller than regular cards. These carry little value. The most well known are the Fleer basketball stickers that were one per pack inserts in the mid to late 80s.
- This refers to a ticket that has been used and is now a stub. The two different kinds are audit stubs and fan stubs.
- Submission Form
- The PSA form that you fill out when you submit cards for grading. There is a carbon-copy version and an online version that is printable.
- superstar card
- A card picturing a player of Hall of Fame (current or future) caliber.