Baseball Card Collecting Dictionary (Glossary)

Note: I will continuously update this page in order to (eventually) build the most comprehensive glossary available. Send an email to theludologists at gmail dot com if there are any specific terms that need to be included.

Every hobby has jargon that can be complicated, or just annoying to have to learn. We try to eliminate the negativity by providing an extensive dictionary with simple to understand definitions that will help you understand every acronym and word in the baseball card industry. Where appropriate, we’ll include pictures and links to pages on our site as well as other websites.

BGS – Beckett Grading Services

BGS is one of the two major professional grading companies, to which collectors can send cards to have them graded. Collectors use grading companies to certify and augment the value of their cards if graded favorably.


Originally a standalone company, Bowman is now a line of cards produced by Topps. For baseball cards, Bowman is most often associated with prospects.

Card Sleeve

Card sleeves may also be called penny sleeves. They are made out of clear polypropylene and are much softer than toploaders. Generally, you may use them to protect cards that are more than commons, but not expensive. Or, they are great for adding extra protection for cards going into a toploader.

Picture of Card Sleeves (Penny Sleeves)

PC – Personal Collection

A lot of collectors prioritize collecting a specific team or player. It’s common, then, to see someone say: “I PC Fernando Tatis” or “I PC Chicago Cubs.”

Example from Twitter of People Using the term PC


The other card grading company–BGS being the other–and the one that is arguably the more preferred. Big League Breaks suggests this may be due to the PSA registry which allows collectors to compete to have higher overall grades for specific sets of cards.

Serial Number

Serial numbers are printed on each individual card. One common serial numbered series are bowman cards that have an associated color for each parallel (serial number series or set). You can recognize serial numbers because they appear on the card as ### / (number of cards in that parallel). For example, Bowman Blue has a serial number designation ###/150.

In this example, this Drew Waters card is a blue parallel, which are numbered to 150. In this case: #138/150.
Short Prints

Short prints were originally cards that were accidentally printed at a lower frequency than other cards. Now card manufacturers purposely print specific cards less frequently.
As an example, you can see a list of short print variations in the 2020 Topps Heritage set. One example are action variations, which you can see denoted in the corner of this card:


Toploaders are hard plastic card holders that collectors use to store less common cards. The hardness of a toploader helps prevent cards from being torn, bent, or otherwise damaged. Topoloaders come in different sizes to accommodate the different sized cards produced by Topps, Prizm, and other card companies. You will almost always purchase toploaders produced by BCW or Ultra Pro. CardzReview has a detailed guide to top loaders that breaks down the different sizes. But, if you are looking for a good, standard-sized (3″ x 4″) toploader, we recommend picking up a 100- or 200-count from your local baseball card shop; or if one is not available, Amazon (affiliate link) or online sports card stores (e.g., Blowout Cards).

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