Hobby Musings: The biggest hobby stories of 2020

Hobby Musings: The biggest hobby stories of 2020 – 2020 was an intriguing year for the hobby. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the hobby managed to not only survive, but thrive during the year. Fueled by mainstream coverage and a lot of high-dollar sales, trading cards and memorabilia proved to be quite popular this year. As we close the year, I had the chance to catch up with a variety of people around the hobby and asked this simple question:

What was the biggest story of the hobby for you in 2020?

2020’s biggest story has to be the explosion and media attention in regards to the hobby. (Thomas Fish, Blowout Cards)

Topps Project 2020. Leave aside the boom-and-quick-bust secondary-sales market – though that tells us something interesting as well – Topps’ decision to let 20 pop-culture artists reimagine classic rookie cards was a potential game-changer for the hobby. It brought new visibility and new money into the card world, and opened the door for a range of extraordinarily creative artists to play an active role in card production and the world of collecting. In a year where so many had more time on their hands to ponder their collections, this little experiment established that cards are, and should be considered, art. (Rick Klein, ABC News Political Director, and No. 34 in 2016 Allen & Ginter)

Hobby Musings: The biggest hobby stories of 2020

The story that attracted the most attention this year was the “Uncle Jimmy Collection”. As the depth and scope of it all came to light, we ran a few stories about it and people just couldn’t get enough. Buried treasure stories are always fun and the fact that this man who started collecting in the 1930s had squirreled all of these amazing cards away with no one in the hobby really knowing they existed was a lot of fun. I mean, six autographed Goudey Ruth cards? Unreal. (Rich Mueller, Sports Collectors Daily)

The number of new collectors and investors that have entered the hobby. (Sean Bennett, Steel City Collectibles)

Whew! Great question. Setting aside the Million Card Rip Party, which was a personal favorite of mine, I’d call it a tie between Dr. Fauci’s first pitch Topps NOW card and Project 2020. The Dr. Fauci card was timely & relevant to this strange year, while Project 2020 reinvented what a baseball card can be. Both stories showed how Topps cards provide a bright spot in troubled times and further proved how much of an appetite there is out there for collecting. (Emily Kless, Topps)

The comeback of Michael Jordan autographs and memorabilia and the rise of shiny cards led in part by the amazing showmanship of Ken Goldin and Goldin Auctions. He’s continuously helped promote the hobby and really made some massive inroads. (Steve Grad, Beckett)

It has to be how a pandemic actually catapulted this industry back into the spotlight with so many lapsed collectors rediscovering the category, new fans coming in and record setting prices for modern day cards. (Chris Carlin, Upper Deck)

Biggest story has to easily be the explosion of growth in the hobby during a worldwide pandemic. Just a dynamic merging of thingshuge rookie classes across all sports, extra time and income (for some) led to money pouring into the hobby and the entrance of new people and investors has been crazy. All this has led to spikes in case breaks, singles sales, box sales, clearing of retail shelves. It’s been a crazy year! (Rob Springs, Panini)

For us, the biggest story of 2020 was Covid and its impact on the industry. In February, we had no idea what to expect. I know that many thought this would cause the industry to crash, but we stayed hopeful. We didn’t realize how many new people would get back into card collecting. The biggest struggle was getting product, including supplies like toploaders and one-touch holders. We have been fortunate to stay busy and working full time during the pandemic. We even hired two more employees to keep things going. It feels really good to be able to keep 10 people employed during a time where many have lost their jobs and to be able to provide a form of sports entertainment and a break from real life to our viewers. (Sara Layton, Layton Sports Cards)

Hobby Musings: The biggest hobby stories of 2020The biggest story in the hobby, easily the explosion of modern card prices. Basketball led the way with Jordan, LeBron, Giannis and Luka, but baseball saw Trout and others skyrocket, and football was strong across the board as well. This is closely followed by the explosion in vintage and high-end modern wax box/case prices. (Kevin Heffner, Historic Autographs)

Project 2020. Combining art with ‘classic’ cards and being popular across spectrums. More than surge and retail flipping. (Robert Morris, Robert Morris, HOF Relic Auto 1/1 collector)

Obviously for us the pandemic was the biggest story. We went from gearing up for the best National ever in Atlantic City to a hoped postponed event at the end of the year to a total cancellation for 2020. Then as we were planning for the move of all our pre-registered exhibitors to Chicago in 2021, we were hit with the permanent closure of our 2022 site in Cleveland. All of this was happening while we watched the industry skyrocket as the result of the pandemic. It made for an interesting year. (John Broggi, National Sports Collectors Convention)

Biggest story – The hobby takes off to a new level of interest! Covid brought collectors back to the hobby and new interest from all over the age spectrum. (Lance Fischer, Onyx)

The pandemic, which led to most of the country shutting down from mid-March through the early summer, led to massive online shopping for everything, including sports memorabilia. That, combined with the intense feelings of nostalgia for sports resulting from the Jordan documentary, resulted in a perfect storm of new and returning collectors. (Reed Kasaoka, Dave and Adam’s Card World)

Hobby Musings: The biggest hobby stories of 2020The biggest story for me personally in 2020 was Project 2020. I easily spent more money on P2020 cards this year than my last five years combined. It also allowed me to branch out by learning more about the artists, which led to purchasing companion cards and even a commission piece from Ermsy. P2020 gave me something to look forward to every weekday with new releases. Not all would be good, but since I was collecting three artists and two players, there was a good chance, at least weekly, I’d buy a card. Plus, some of the artists had amazing one-off cards, (Efdot, Shore, Siff and Saladeen) which really gave me something to look forward to every day. (Paul Lesko, Legal analyst and avid hobbyist)

Thank you also to Kevin O’Neil from Topps and Andrew Chrisman from Sports Card Info for responding to this question!


Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
Hobby Musings: The biggest hobby stories of 2020
Kelsey Schroyer