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June 1998 Issue
Baseball Cards and Father's Day
by Lacey Julian
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In honor of Father's Day this month I thought I'd talk about a collection dominated by the male sex...baseball cards.

Although baseball cards have been around the longest, the "card" collectible field now runs amuck with just about any type of sport's card. Baseball cards are still the most easily obtainable with football and basketball cards coming in as close seconds. I have seen hockey, golf, and even auto racing cards for sale. I suppose, if you know where to look, you can find collectible cards of any sport or sport "hero" (I use that term loosely).

In recent years, baseball card collecting has become quite the hobby, but let's take a good look at what caused this phenomenon. In the "olden days", children would save up their pennies to purchase cards with pictures of their favorite baseball heroes, and enjoy a large piece of chewing gum to boot! These young boys collected the cards not so much for their monitory worth, but because they liked certain players, certain field positions, or certain teams more than others. Some kids collected all third base player's cards in hopes of someday becoming a famous player in the same position. Some kids loved the White Sox and it became a mission to gather up all the players on the team that year. And, some kids just liked Babe Ruth, etc. Back then it was a wholesome kind of hobby where young boys would trade card for card with their friends. Some cards became "clickers" by attaching the cards to bicycle tire spokes, some got "pitched" up against a wall, and some just plain got thrown away.

Today's baseball card collectors, for the most part, are not young boys. When my son was born my best friend advised me to purchase a "set" of baseball cards once a year so that when he was old enough to appreciate them he would have a nice collection to add to, thereby not costing dear old mom a small fortune in both money and time searching for previous years cards. So, not knowing a thing about collecting these cards, and admitting that I knew very little about the sport on a whole, I embarked on a world, well....its not a pretty picture. The first place I headed was to the library where I borrowed books on the subject of collecting these cards. One book, in-particular, was extremely interesting. This book was published in the late 1980's and written by a successful investor/trader from New York. This guy was approximately 50ish by the look of his picture on the jacket cover. He explained how he became successful and what to look for in counterfeit cards. Little did I know the book was so far outdated that most of the advice he offered no longer pertained to the hobby. The hobby had changed drastically shortly after his book was published, but this news was yet for me to discover.

Thinking I was ready for the next step, I purchased a commonly found magazine solely dedicated to the hobby of baseball card collecting. The magazine gave me the current "value" of hundreds of thousands of cards (or so it seemed), several articles regarding the hobby, and a plethora of sales ads begging me to call their one-eight-hundred telephone numbers for the best "deal". As soon as I walked into my home with this magazine, my husband located his baseball cards, saved from his youth, to see if he had anything in his position that may have allowed us to relocate to a more spacious dwelling. Alas, we are still in our cozy love nest. The magazine only served to confuse me even further, but it did shed a single ray of concrete light that I most definitely needed. I found out that there are no more "sets" available. Apparently, baseball card manufacturers were not raking in enough money to please them during the height of the most recent card collecting frenzy of the early 1990's, so they decided to stop creating sets of cards, thereby forcing the public to purchase untold packs of cards to create a set. Hello! This meant that all those young boys out there spending their allowance on baseball cards at the grocery store would probably never be able to collect a complete set of cards for the current year, unless their parents were VERY generous with their weekly dole-outs, because those ten cent packs of cards are now costing any where from $1.00 to $2.50 per pack, and the poor kid doesn't even get his chewing gum anymore! Is it just me, or do you also see something going wrong with this "wholesome" hobby.

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