Dave, over at Fielder's Choice Baseball Card Blog, has issued a call for card bloggers to write about what we'd like to see in the future of baseball cards. I'll add my thoughts to the third installment of The Blog Bat Around.
I have only recently returned to card collecting and I'm still trying to find my footing. I've enjoyed cards since my youth. I have a decent sized Orel Hershiser collection. I'm not crazy about the over abundance of Jersey / Autograph cards. Especially when they don't really relate to baseball.
Early in the 2008 baseball season I picked up a pack of Topps "something or others" at Wal-Mart. Ninety-nine cents. Good price. The cards were nice enough, but I can't tell you a thing about them. They didn't say, "Wow. Collect me."
A friend bought me a few packs when we had lunch at Cracker Barrel during our summer vacation. I couldn't tell you a thing about them. I enjoyed them for the moment. To be fair, it was the end of a long week on the road with two kids. I didn't spend too much time looking at the cards.
It wasn't until November that I purchased another pack. Allen & Ginter. Just because I talked to my dad and I wanted him to have a pack. We opened it together. Very classy look, but nothing exciting.
My wife bought 3 packs for my Christmas stocking. There was a Goudey, a 4 card pack with a 'painted canvas' feel and a Topps Heritage pack.
The cards looked nice, except for having Jeter and Griffey's head on each of the Goudeys. (side note: if you are a Jeter or Griffey collector/completist, do you have to have every one of those cards? And did Derek Jeter actually write the copy?) I liked the Painted Canvases for the look, but I don't want to collect them.
I guess I'm currently not a set collector. If I want a set, I'll get the factory set at Target or my local card shop.
So, what do I want to see this coming year? Less diversity. Reasonable prices. Meaningful subsets.
What about a good sized base set (700 cards)? Maybe include a small set of chase cards.
Make a set geared toward collecting (200 cards). No chase cards. No wacky laser cut cards. Just a good representation of baseball cards.
In the late 1980s Fleer came out with a very annoying mess of cards. 44 to a pack or something. Fleer's Hottest Players. Fleer's Greatest Players. Fleer's Pitching Players. Greatest and Bestest Players. Hottest and Good Looking Players. Exciting Stars. MVPs. Heroes of Baseball. All-Stars. Problem was, it was mostly the same players.
Bring back the small boxed sets but make them meaningful. An All-Star set. From the All-Star game. A World Series set. From this last year. Don't cloud it with the cards and photos from the 1958 World Series. I don't care. You want to celebrate the series from fifty years ago? Create another small box set.
Create a set of Hall of Fame Inductees for each of the preceding decades. Don't make them chase cards. Give them their own little box.
Make cards that are meaningful and consistent. Good action shots on the fronts. Interesting stats on the back. I can look at last year's card of Player X and see what they did for the last 5 years. What did Player X do this last year that was significant? Dig deep and give me an obscure stat. "Player X hit .353 on the road in extra innings when a Will Ferrell movied opened that same month." "Player Y pitched 102 innings in relief, which is the same age as his namesake, his maternal grandmother."
Produce some boutique items. Higher retail price, but make it worth the customer's money. I don't want to plunk down $25 for a pack only to find that I got the Tiger's waterboy's auto. Or an authentic piece of handle tape from a spring training fungo practice bat. Give me something of (perceived) value.
I don't care about mastadon hair. Or Lincoln's hair. Or President (elect) cards. You want to make a set of American History cards? Great. Add them in. Toss some ball players in. They're part of American History.
Okay, I just realized that I started rambling, with no clear goal in mind. Stepping back and looking at it, I think I want:
* Good looking cards
* A simple base set that is obtainable for collectors of all ages and incomes
* Not so many variations on the base set
* Small sets for important events or groups
It shouldn't be that hard. Should it?