Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Once Proud Hobby Has Fallen Apart

In the latest issue of Sports Illustrated, there's a great article by Luke Winn, in which he details the demise of the sports trading card industry. In the article he states that in mid-July Major League Baseball announced it was awarding exclusive rights to produce trading cards using its brand to Topps, starting in 2010. In other words, all the other distributors have gone bankrupt, with Upper Deck remaining as Topps only competitor.

I found the article interesting because last week in my post about the iconic Honus Wagner card, I wrote about the good old days when Topps was the only maker of baseball cards. Once all these other companies came on board, it just wasn't fun anymore. And as years passed, it got to a point that I lost count of how many card distributors there were. By 1994, I lost interest all together and gave up the hobby.

So this news that the industry has fallen apart doesn't surprise me. But it's a shame how corporate greed destroyed such a beautiful hobby for kids.

Winn's article focuses on the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card, calling it the last iconic baseball card. And this may be true. It was an extremely popular card at the time because it was the only Griffey rookie card when he stormed onto the scene as a 19 year old phenom. And the key word here is only.

The article highlights, how the industry spiraled out of control with each passing year. It notes that when Derek Jeter came on the scene there were 8 different Jeter rookie cards and when Albert Pujols came along there were 23 different Pujols rookie cards. I mean, the hobby just got ridiculous. That's like boxing having 5 different heavyweight champions.

Maybe now that Topps is once again going to exclusively distribute baseball cards they may start gaining value again. Future superstars are going to have one true rookie card.

My days as a collector are long over but I'll keep an eye on the Griffey card to see if it gains traction. Sports Illustrated definitely helped its cause with this article. Every bit of attention helps.

Although I doubt it'll ever reach the level of, what I like to call, "the grand-daddy of them all"-- the T206 Honus Wagner card.

Photos courtesy of Sports Illustrated

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