Wax Heaven reader and fellow collector Jason loves all things that are free and recently saw a contest that was giving away a Hobby box of 2008 Topps to the person who could write the best essay about why kids should start collecting baseball cards. His essay was pure genius, funny but to the point. I invite Jason to start his own blog or at the very least become a guest contributor to Waxheaven.com. We could use more writer/collectors like him. I am certain he could give Ben Henry a run for his money!
Below is the essay as submitted by Jason to http://www.sportscardfun.com:
“As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t anticipate winning the box of 2008 Topps. It’s not that I can’t effectively and articulately pen a response to the question at hand. I can. It’s not that I don’t want the box. Trust me, I do. It’s that my answer is controversial and may not be exactly what you’re looking for.
Kids shouldn’t start collecting baseball cards. They currently do not have a single reason to. And I don’t think it has as much to do with the competition for their attention as some might think. The Sports Card industry has become a convoluted mess of inserts, game used memorabilia, and endless variations. It is no longer a hobby for children in much the same way that video games are no longer made for 8 year olds.
The “targeted demographic” for sports collectibles are those guys that started out buying up Donruss with their allowance. Those that can afford the price structure that the hobby has evolved into. Who’s purchasing the new ultra violent PS3 games? Guys that used to play Super Mario while listening to New Kids on the Block. The kids that made these industries boom are all grown up now.
This creates another question. What made ME start collecting baseball cards as a kid? I have to answer that by saying that I know what made me, until recently, stop collecting. Price. Undecipherable variations. Bloated sets that made it impossible to “collect”. Professional grading. The magic has been lost in the marketing.
I am 28 years old with extensive computer knowledge. I have subscriptions to all of the major price guides to include Beckett’s Online Database. Yet, I have wrestled for over 6 months to figure out which variation I have of a 2007 Topps Co-Signers Hanley Ramirez. I pulled a Babe Ruth 2007 Goudey Immortals Jersey out of a retail box. My wife didn’t want me touching the jersey. When did the monetary value become more important than running my finger across a jersey worn by the Bambino? I attempted to copy and paste a list of all the Manny Ramirez cards in existence from Beckett into a spreadsheet. My computer crashed four times before I gave up. How could I even begin to create a master set of all of Manny’s stuff when 25% or more are all “One-of-Ones”
Why is there only one 2007 Upper Deck First Edition, yet you have Elements, Future Stars, Premier, Sp Rookie, Spectrum, UD Masterpieces, UD Black, etc. Tell me who that’s geared towards? Look at the pricing for these packs and then show me a kid that wants to spend their only $10 bucks for the week to get 4 cards. Card Manufacturers need to change their intent, not their strategy.
Finally, what made me start back? Almost a year ago, I opened my old shoe boxes to see what I could sell on eBay. As I sorted through the cards “one last time” I was amazed that I could identify the players on each card before I ever saw the name. Guys like Hensley Meulens, Bo Diaz, Luis Polonia, Jeff Blauser, Phil Plantier, etc. That is what made me come back home.
I don’t know that the industry, based on the question, can be fixed. I do know however, a 4 year old t-ball star sleeping soundly in his bed right now that is going to help me put together a hand collated set of ragged 1990 Topps sometime in the near future. I won’t have to market anything. I won’t have a strategy for convincing him of how fun it can be. I do have faith that he’ll understand the enthusiasm and the magic in my eyes. I trust that my son will hear the faint whisper of a hobby tradition long gone.”