The other day Topps baseball card company announced an exclusive licensing deal with MLB to be the exclusive provider of MLB baseball cards. Baseball Cards are a dying business. Their sales and value are off 75% from their 1991 highs. Falling from a peak of 1.2 billion to less than 300 million today. Topps and Major League Baseball inked an exclusive deal in hopes of appealing to a new generation of younger kids. Their hope is to provide a way for kids to connect to the game of baseball.
According to Bud Selig
“Generations of baseball fans have grown more connected to the game through collecting baseball cards, We look forward to partnering with Topps to restore baseball cards as the game’s premier collectible.”
Unfortunately, I disagree with Bud. It ain’t gonna happen. Baseball cards are dead!
When I was a kid, I had almost the entire 1978 season. Jim Rice as the MVP. Fred Lynn, Goose Gosage, Ron Guidry, I had all my favorite players. I even had some earlier cards, like Thurmon Munson before his tragic plane crash. I had 100’s of baseball cards. I loved them. I studied their stats on the back. I could tell you who had the most HR’s, who hit for average, where they played their minor league ball, how many teams the played for, what their best season was, when they broke into the majors etc. Besides the cool gum, and the excitement of opening them up to see who you would get, it was the information on the card that made them so great.
It was the only place you could get all the information on your favorite players, and teams in one place. The information was up to date, accurate and there was a lot of it. Baseball cards were small compact baseball encyclopedias that kids could carry around with them, and trade. They even gave kids status. They were awesome! But now baseball cards are DEAD!
Baseball cards aren’t dead because of Video games or because kids no longer care about baseball, although they do play a small role. Baseball cards are dead because kids don’t need them to CONNECT to their teams and favorite players. They don’t need them for the information either. The web as made it as easy as 1,2,3 to get any and all information you need about your favorite players, teams, etc. Social networks allow fans to follow their favorite players day to day activities, and get closer to them than ever before. Cable networks, and reality T.V. with shows like cribs give unprecedented access and visibility into our modern day heroes. The static, one dimensional card can’t compete with a new, always open, access to everything world.
I loved baseball cards. They have a nostalgic place in my heart and memory. Regardless of my feelings, there will be no nostalgia in baseball cards for the next generation. They will connect with the game in a different way. They will friend their favorite players via Facebook and Myspace, they will follow their Twitters and read their blogs. Today’s generation will want to connect with their hero’s just as we did, they’ll just do it in a different way and in a way that is a lot more frickin cool than a baseball card.
Imagine being 8 today and being able to know where your hero is, what he or she ate for breakfast, what they thought about their performance in last nights game and what they hope to accomplish in their next game. Now imagine your hero accepts your friend invitation or even better responds to you on Twitter. How cool is that?
It’s a whole new ball game for kids today and baseball cards seem kind of one dimensional. Oh yeah, they are.