Every once in awhile the World Wide Web throws up a story about either (a) The Death of Baseball Cards, or (b) The Death of the Hobby – or maybe even both at the same time!
These stories tend to take the same format. Firstly we get a nostalgic trip down memory lane as we’re told about the place that Baseball cards used to hold in our hearts. Then we get treated to a potted history of the Baseball card hobby, paying particular attention to the changes the industry went through in the 80’s and 90’s. Thirdly we’re treated to a treatise about Topps’ exclusivity and how it has systematically ruined collecting for all of us!
Throw in the problems around rookie and prospect cards, the numbering on Topps’ base set, the evils of Beckett’s and other price guides, and a few other random issues that ‘enrage’ us collectors every once in awhile, and that’s about it!
Basically these articles don’t tell us anything new, certainly nothing we haven’t heard about before, or already dissected on various forums and in different forms of social media, over and over and over – but they are a fun read from time to time!
I came across an article today (from JohnnyD over at Yahoo Voices in November 2011) that I hadn’t read before so I thought I’d share it with you guys! Again it doesn’t add anything particularly new to the whole debate about the state of the Hobby as it is today (although I do agree with some of the points made about rookie cards and the over-emphasis on the monetary ‘value’ of cards)
There’s also this article from The Fat Pastor that was written back in 2009 and deals with similar themes
Even CBS got in on the act in March 2012
Here’s a nice antidote to the doom and gloom from Chris Carlin on the Upper Deck Blog (obviously it’s slanted towards UD and its products but Chris’ comments can be applied universally)
And have a read of this from Rich Klein, of Sports Collectors Daily, which acts as a counterpoint to the CBS piece
Have a browse around the internet and you’ll find dozens of these types of articles lamenting the ‘death’ of the Hobby and pointing out the ‘irrelevance’ of card collecting in the modern era.
You’ll also find dozens of counter-arguments against these articles as well!
The thing is, I’d have to say that the Hobby is thriving, or at least that’s how it appears to me. Topps appears to still be doing pretty well for itself, thank you very much. And both Panini and Upper Deck continue to muscle in on the action, albeit in a non-MLB licensed capacity!
So to say that the Baseball card industry, and the Hobby that spawned from it, are both dead couldn’t be further from the truth!
However as Rich Klein points out, the Hobby itself HAS changed! The nature and manufacture of the product HAS changed! The way in which we collectors ‘collect’ HAS changed! And the collecting demographic HAS changed!
The Hobby has evolved and moved on! There’s nothing that us ‘old timers’ would like better than to wallow in the throes of nostalgia – recounting a time when collecting was a much more simpler and straightforward process – back when collecting was all about the love of the Hobby and not all about the ‘value’ or cards and the potential for future investment!
Unfortunately those days are all but gone and we must move on as well! I’m not saying that we can’t hold on to those collecting ideals, just that the industry isn’t necessarily built now to cater for them!
Companies do need to do something to reach out to those potential collectors who have been raised on a steady diet of video games and find ways to entice them into the collecting fold, although I fear it may well be too late for that particular generation. Baseball card collecting is definitely more of an adult Hobby nowadays, paid for with ‘grown up’ money! Perhaps the sons and daughters of today’s collectors will go on to be collectors in their own right, impassioned and enriched by our love of the game and the Hobby!
But Baseball cards and the Baseball card Hobby dead??? Nah!!!
While we still have Baseball we’ll always have Baseball cards in one form or another! And while we still have Baseball fans, they’ll always be someone willing and ready to collect them!