Monday, April 16, 2012

Kids don’t care! They used to care but now they don’t. They got better things to do now than hold a piece of cardboard with a baseball player’s picture. It is spring cleaning time. Just throw all the baseball cards out. Who needs idols when you got Gears of War on your I Pad and all the internet on your phone.
The baseball card collectors are still there but they are now a much older lot of people. The trading shows are not attracting lots of people. What is particularly noticeable is the lack of kids at the shows. Besides, where can a kid even get hold of baseball cards anyway? It is not like you can just download them into your binder and say , “Wanna buy it?” and immediately have enough money to pay for college. We used to buy a pack, eat the giant slice of gum and then stare at the picture cards till dinner was ready.
In the mid 1980’s Baseball cards were a serious investment. A childhood hobby exploded into a Billion dollar industry. Thousands of collectors used to pack shows all over the country. Now you will probably just find a few white middle aged men at a show. Now it is merely an adult hobby. The collectors have priced themselves out of the prices that kids can afford to pay for a card.
Dave Jamieson is the author of “Mint Condition.” The book is about how baseball cards became an American obsession. Yes, such an obsession that many were buying the cards in sets which was a collection of cards of every player on a team. The fact of the matter is that with spring cleaning, the cards were thrown out so the older saved cards like a 1952 Micky Mantle rookie Yankees card were valuable. Anything scarce is always of value.
By 1991 more than 3 Million people were collecting Baseball cards driving sales past the Billion dollar a year mark. Cardboard suddenly turned into gold; an investment. Even the big brokers who would sell their investments that exceeded three times the original value see a sharp decline now. A guy named Mr. Mint had a seven page article about him in Sports Illustrated. He was a former New Jersey copy machine salesman turned into Billionaire. Allen “Mr. Mint” Rosen, became a certifiable star from baseball card trading of which he has been doing for 34 years.
The card field has changed dramatically. Rosen admits that , “ In 1981 , I had my best year in clearing $8,7 Million dollars in sales, just one guy ! Now I get 20 to 25 calls a day but back then I would get over a hundred calls a day.” 30 thousand people used to go to just one trading card event then. Now the grandpa is dead, dad doesn’t have any money, the kid cant find a newsstand or candy store that would have sold the cards and besides he is into computers and girl now anyway.
Then there was the over marketing. As prices rose during the “successful” trading years companyies like the Upper Deck decided in the early 90’s to print 81 billion cards in a single year. So then the bubble burst, supply exceeded demand and ruined the price you could sell it for. Everyone had a card! Now the whole industry is down as much as 75% in trading sales.
The blame can be pointed at everyone involved. Everyone got greedy. It can certainly go to the card makers like the Topps’ card company who were printing the cards as if it were scrap paper. The 8 month Baseball strike in 1984 didn’t help either to get fans wanting to buy card about players that didn’t even have ant statistics printed on the card.
Then the explosion of the internet came, video games, and soaring prices for signed memorabilia got people turned off to the cardboard wallet sized picture. So now we have witnessed the death of an era because kids don’t care anymore. However, In 2007, a Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $2.8 million-a record price. Hey! Stop that garbage truck I need my baseball cards back !

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