Baseball Card Decline Mirrors Dot-Com NASDAQ Fall

Baseball Card image courtesy Library of CongressIn 1991, the baseball card industry was a $1.2 billion business. Trading shops sprang up around the country -- 10,000 of them to be exact. Perhaps as a metaphor for the coming stock market bubble, the industry fizzled.

Here is what's really creepy: the rise and fall of baseball card shops in the U.S. match 1:1 with the drop in the NASDAQ composite after the dot-com bust. Taking each at their high- and low-water marks: Between 1991 and 2005, baseball card shops dropped by 83%; between 2000 and 2003, the NASDAQ lost 83% as well. Surely Adam Smith is making up bad puns from his grave at this very moment (all is fair in laissez-faire?).

In related news: Yesterday, Topps delayed a crucial shareholder vote for a buyout by an investment group that includes former Disney CEO Michael Eisner's Tornante Company. Earlier, Upper Deck -- the only other licensed baseball card manufacturer -- withdrew its cash offer (a $1/share premium over the investment group's offer). Topps cited antitrust roadblocks to the deal with Upper Deck, but Upper Deck contended that Topps favored the less lucrative offer with Tornante-Madison Dearborn because upper management would be retained post-acquisition.

Baseball Card image courtesy Library of Congress