Everyone has a different story on what attracted them to this hobby of collecting baseball cards. For me, it was my mother who accidentally bought me a set of 1990 Ames All-Stars thinking it was a deck of playing cards. I still remember going through these foreign cards wondering what sport they were playing. After all, I was fresh off a plane from South America and knew no other sport but soccer.
Out of the entire set it was one specific card that grabbed my attention. The box was full of stars from Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken Jr., to Kirby Puckett and Darryl Strawberry but it was some guy named Jose Canseco that entranced me. I had no idea who he was or what he did but to a 9-year old looking for a male role model in his life, he was perfect. Jose looked like some kind of a superhero, muscles too large and an expression of a man determined to kill whatever came his way.
Over the years I have been witness to some amazing changes in our hobby. Autographs, pieces of game-used jerseys/bats/balls/dirt, and even the actual printing plates used to make the cards, among many other innovations. Unfortunately, not everyone can and will be satisfied. The fact that companies from my “heyday” like Fleer and Donruss no longer make baseball cards is a clear indication that somewhere along the way the hobby train derailed not too long ago.
Recently, Upper Deck was forced to recall a new and very anticipated product after a lawsuit from Topps, collectors all over the world are up in arms over continued use of “short print” gimmick cards included in 2008 products, and even the “Bible” of baseball cards, Beckett Media is having to cut back on their monthly magazine and is facing more complaints about their new format that one could ever imagine.
So yes, while it does seem like we are in the new dark ages of baseball cards I do think it is simply impossible to not have fun in this hobby today. Personally, I can’t afford paying $200 for a box of baseball cards with 4 cards in it but I know for a fact I can find the cards I want from the set on eBay and for considerably lower market value.
There is no chance for me to afford putting together a set of SPx or even Finest but there are brands like Upper Deck series 1 & 2 that have put out unbelievably-beautiful cards with some of the best photography ever seen and for prices way too good to be true.
That player whose autograph you keep pulling but can’t stand has a fan out there somewhere and more than likely is a member of the Beckett Media Message Boards. I have made many trades for cards of players I collect while unloading cards of guys who would normally sit in my box of commons. Where else but on the Internet could you find a “Super Collector” of Coco Crisp and Bronson Sardinha?
Do you want to continue complaining about things that more than likely will never change or will you try to seek the alternative and come away with a familiar love for the hobby that was sparked the first time you opened a pack of ’89 Upper Deck, or when you pulled your first Autograph and/or Game-Used?
I know every time that I get frustrated about not being able to afford that box of Triple Threads I can just walk up to my collection and find inside an old, beat-up binder a baseball card given to me by my mother almost 20 years ago. It may be a little faded but it provides way more enjoyment than any one of one Superfractor ever could.
I love collecting baseball cards. Do you?