Doesn’t this industry have enough “bloggers” and “experts” trying to give their take skewed towards the negative side? Who are you trying to find as your audience?
— Gregg (@ScoobyCub) January 4, 2019
I’ve been blogging about baseball cards for a long time. Officially, this is year number twelve. Unofficially, due to “life” and other distractions, I’ve only been active for something like 3.5 years. Still, in that time, I’ve managed to write over 3,000 blogs about cards. During my heyday, no one was as prolific at writing about our hobby and in return I managed to build a good relationship with many card company officials and had the most visited card blog during a time when just about everyone decided they wanted to start their very own blog. It was a fun time.
In the scope of things, 12 years isn’t much. However, I’ve been a baseball card collector for 29 years. What that means is that today at 38, I have been a collector for most of my life. As a 10-year old kid, baseball cards were everything to me. I obsessed over them, stole them, spent hours sifting through my collection, and continued collecting even after the card bubble exploded and the advancement of other hobbies such as gaming took over. In 1990, I had a Nintendo sure, but every single kid on my block had a card collection. Sadly, that isn’t the case today.
Leaf Trading Cards made their triumphant return the same year I began collecting in 1990. Unfortunately, I didn’t own a single Leaf card until my late teens due to the high-end nature of their products. In those days, Donruss/Topps/Upper Deck/Fleer were producing low-end cards that my Mom was willing to spend money on to help pad my collection but Leaf cards were entirely on other level. I still remember buying my first Leaf card in 1997, which you see below. This ’94 Leaf Limited was simply put, jaw-dropping and made me a Leaf fan and collector for life.
Although my memory now fails me, at some point in 2010-ish, Brian Gray’s Razor Entertainment card company re-branded itself as Leaf Trading Cards after acquiring the license. At the time, Razor’s reputation online was in the gutter. There was even conspiracy theories over a leaked memo I posted, which went viral during the pre-Twitter days. I don’t recall much more other than I was happy Leaf baseball cards was finally back in one form or another. I was expecting big things even if this version of Leaf wouldn’t have any connection to the one from the late-90s.
I would say for the most part, Leaf has been a huge success in The Hobby and has made many collectors forget all about Razor. They have produced some really beautiful cards and released some fun buyback autographs that I personally adore. Their 2018 Originals Metal card of Jose Canseco has been impossible to find since the first few weeks of its release, which has taught me to not take Leaf cards lightly ever again. If you haven’t seen Leaf Originals, they are minis with some of the most vibrant color parallels I have ever seen!
That being said, I do have a problem with a few of Leaf’s products. Their Heroes of the Game brand flooded the secondary market with unattractive, cheap autographs of Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. Products like this do so much damage to collectors of said players because it devalues the autographs of their players. In a perfect world, no one would have a need or desire to sell off but the reality is that many do for one reason or another. A perfect example is Tanman,who unloaded the biggest Canseco collection known to man because God and his wife needed their money back.
Another issue I have is that both players from this set have absolutely gorgeous, on-card autos going back decades. If you’re a casual collector, this product may be for you but I wouldn’t expect anyone with hobby knowledge to choose a product like this. Sure, on-card autos will set you back a little more but you get what you pay for. This Gwynn below from Leaf is now selling for as little as $12 dollars, which is much less than the original retail price. Leaf also flooded the Pete Rose market a few years back and now autographs of the “Hit King” barely crack $8 dollars.
My goal in creating and continuing to blog is to remind collectors how great we once had it back when companies like Leaf, Pinnacle, Donruss, Fleer, and Upper Deck all competed for our hard-earned dollars. I like to show collectors (who still read blogs) the good and the bad from our hobby. I spent all year long praising Leaf for their 2018 Pearl release, calling it one of the greatest products I have ever seen only to be mocked and subtly insulted by their Vice-President for not liking every single one of their products. Everyone is entitled to collect what they love just as much as I am entitled to write what I want.
I don’t care what year it is, I can’t see a product like Heroes of the Game producing any future card collectors or bringing back former collectors who gave up on the hobby. This is my opinion. My goal is to hopefully help restart the fire of a former collector the same way Ben Henry of The Baseball Card Blog did so for me in 2006. As for new products, I want to see new innovations, print technology, and great photographs; all things that help create iconic baseball cards like the ones I grew up on way back in 1990, when all I wanted was for my mom to buy me a Leaf Jose Canseco card.
These days, I am still chasing Leaf cards every time I visit eBay …