Thursday, July 19, 2012
I'm sticking with you
I didn't take real good care of my cards when I was younger.
Some of my earlier cards have chips, dings, creases, you name it. Somewhere in my room are a few football cards that I drew little thought bubbles on, like in cartoons or comics.
I'd buy anything I could find, even old discounted overproduction era packs that had been sitting in someone's basement for the last decade. Packs like those resulted in cards getting stuck together, which in turn made for atrocities, like the above Tom Goodwin.
I don't think I knew what a "toploader" was until my high school years.
Stories like those are pretty common among card-collecting kids. I know I wasn't the only one.
Trouble is, I'm fearing I might be one of the last.
While the hobby isn't in as dire straits as some would like to have you believe, I am on board with one of the common sentiments in today's age.
The hobby isn't a "kid's game" anymore.
Sure, there are some heartwarming stories of children who are still passionate about this age-old hobby. The fact that I had to specifically point one out might not be that good of a sign, especially considering it's the only one I've witnessed in recent memory.
Of course, there are ways to have fun in this hobby without spending a whole lot. But you'd never know it judging from what's "popular" today.
The emphasis on memorabilia cards. The $200-per-pack sets. The "prospecting" craze.
In a nutshell, there's one example that stands above all others in representing this dramatic shift in today's hobby...
The so-called "protection sleeves" in 1999 Finest.
I can't say I much blame Topps for these, though. The "condition" era was nearing its peak in '99. What better way to lure potential customers in than with already "protected" cards?
The concept of something like this in the '70s or '80s would've been laughed at.
I remember one of my friends bringing one of these into our summer daycamp one day, back when we still brought our cards in every summer afternoon.
We all thought it was weird. And not to mention, ugly.
That's the main drawback to these. They're just plain ugly. But people took the supposed "protection" over the overall look of the card.
Who knows what would've happened to it had the coating not been on there.
I'm not sure about other collectors, but I peel the coating off every time I happen to acquire a card from this set.
It can be a hassle sometimes, but it's definitely worth it in the end. No monsters popped out of the blue because I removed the hallowed "protection" from it.
It's still the same old Jason Tyner rookie card I originally bought. Except it's not ugly. It's a whole lot more awesome without the so-called "protection".
I usually see a decent amount of people my age at card shows these days. But I almost never see any kids. A lot of the prices are just too rich for them. I know I couldn't have afforded most of the cards I see at shows when I was twelve or thirteen. (I still can't.)
The reason I'd like to see the return of a Topps Total-like set isn't just because I want to see a Tim Spooneybarger card. I really think a low-priced set like that could bring some of the younger generation back into the hobby. Not a four-card pack of Bowman Chrome that costs three dollars.
Although it goes without saying, I really, really want this hobby to survive over the long haul. If that's going to happen, we need the help of the kids of this generation and the next. And the next.
Card companies, please keep the younger collectors in mind. That's all I ask. They're part of the "plan", after all.
I want to be able to see a 2030 Topps set.