April 7, 2015

Hobby news making its way into the mainstream


Every once in a while something in our little card world breaks its way into mainstream media. Usually, it has to do when a card is worth lots and lots of money.

It’s happened again. Kris Bryant's 2013 Bowman Chrome Superfractor Autograph has turned up and the card is on eBay with a BIN of $89,999. Will the card go for $90K? Of course not, but the consigner says there are offers of on table between $35K and $45K, according to a Fox Sports report.

Prospecting is a crazy part of this hobby. Guys who have yet to play even a second of Major League Baseball can have their cards sell for thousands. The same happened with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper’s Superfractors. Now, it’s Kris Bryant’s turn.

But don’t tell this to the doomsday media outlets. There was a video piece in the Washington Post recently entitled The Rise and Fall of Baseball Cards. Short version: Collecting isn’t the same as it was in the boom of the 1980s and 90s (but, really, what is?), card shops are closing and baseball players don’t like to smile at 7 a.m.

Yet, there is no mention of how ecommerce has affected the hobby. No mention of eBay, COMC, cards being sold on Amazon. No talk of prospecting or how vintage collecting is bigger than it has ever been. Nothing about those who only sell online spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or group breakers – you’re never going to see those guys selling at a card show or opening a hobby shop, but they exist.


As someone who has spent more than a decade in the news world, it can be difficult to get over your biases when beginning a story. You have a preconceived notion, but it’s important to keep an open mind and ask questions to get the full story rather than mold a story into hole you created. Maybe MSM can get it right the next time.

7 comments:

  1. Excellent points, Suzy. I mentioned this on another blog yesterday that linked to that same Washington Post article, but some of the perceived downturn in the card-collecting world has to come from pure demographics. When the "boom" of the late 1980s hit, you had a bunch of Baby Boomers returning to the hobby when their kids were older/grown. These days, we're in the midst of the Baby Bust that followed the Boom. There are just fewer people in their 30s and 40s. Therefore, there are fewer people who can "return."

    I wouldn't be surprised to see another bump/surge in the industry in about 5 to 7 years, as the next big population cohort -- the Millennials -- come back around to collecting. It may not be the same nostalgic twinges as in the past, but I'd bet it happens in one form or another.

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  2. UGh this Thou$$$and$$$ prospecting is ruining the fun of the hobby. A Nationals fan can't get a Bryce Harper RC card for a reasonable price less than $50 or better yet less than $20. I can see paying $thousands for say a Mickey Mantle RC or Babe Ruth's "RC" but one of these modern guys who have just started playing? Over $100 for a card that isn't even out of diapers? Ridiculous with a capital RID-I-CU-LOUS

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  3. If I could ever convince my editor of this story's relevance to our readers, I would do that story. And I wouldn't stop after the brick-and-mortar hobby shop owner cried on my shoulder for 45 minutes.

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  4. Looks like that piece was put together solely so the guy could get a free trip to spring training. Yep so many angles not covered. It was pretty miopic in scope. I remember when CBS aired something similar. It was pretty much everyone, mostly those dealers who made huge bucks back in the heyday, lamenting on how the hobby just ain't what it use to be. And guess what it's not, it's evolved, it's changed and it ain't going back. Another thing is everyone is saying we got to get the kids back into collecting. First I see kids in the cards shops all the time, the problem is that the hobby is too expensive for kids to get into and all the other things that vie for their time and allowance.

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  5. Like every news article - the Washington Post headline is click-bait ... but the video was right on the money & factual. The card shop owner was probably generous when citing how few products will actually sell at cost after a season is over. That's the reality of the business.

    The thing with e-commerce is it's just shifting the sales to another medium - it's not actual growth. I want the card industry grow like the next collector, but it will take existing stakeholders to address the issues brought up by the Washington Post instead of pushing it to the side like it's nonsense. MTG, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh cards haven't changed much since the 90's .... and seems to be working out fine for them. $89,000 cards aren't the answer, the sooner the hobby realizes this - the sooner more positive articles will be written by the main stream media.

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  6. If anyone offered me 35K for one of my baseball cards, I'd poop myself and use the 35K to buy me some new underwear. That guy should take the money and run.

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  7. Things will never change until collectors and dealers realize sports cards/comic cards are like a piece of art. They are only worth what someone is willing to give you for it. The 80s was the boom of the joy and fun of collecting and trading along with the character of the athletes like griffey, bo, Jordan, ripken..... Nowadays sports are all about "give me the money."

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