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  #1  
Old 07-20-2004, 12:41 AM
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Posted By: ErikV.


All,

I'm sure that this message board has as much baseball knowledge as it does card collecting knowledge so I'm going to throw this somewhat difficult question out: Is there a correlation between the evolution of the game of baseball and card colleting?

In the mid-1800's baseball was more of a tournament style game which evolved into a "gentleman's game" and then an organized Major League. In the 1900's came the Deadball Era followed by the 1920's and the homerun/Ruth Era. The 30's and 40's followed with the War Years and then came the expansion era of the 50's and 60's, which leads all the way up to today's game. Each era has seen the dawn of a new, more modern game (ie, the designated hitter, the specialty of relief pitching, pitch counts, caculated moves like right handed pitching vs left handed hitting, etc.)

As for card collecting, from the early cabinets cards to tobacco and gum cards, to TOPPS and the innovation of grading cards, collecting baseball cards is not what it used to be! Has card collecting grown and changed WITH the game or did the game and collecting both evolve seperately into their modern day entities? And finally, what sort of changes can we expect to see in the future for both the game and collecting? Any thoughts?

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Old 07-20-2004, 01:06 AM
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Posted By: Julie Vognar

I think the collecting of cards has evolved with the public's perception of the game, the fan's appreciation, and the use that advertising has made of this appreciation.

It's only in very recent years, and ironically, with some of the least interesting results, that card-making is no longer the direct result of a desire to advertise or promote a product--besides baseball cards and the game they portray.

Yet it's hard to believe that the manufacturers of Cracker Jack, Amnwerican Tobacco, Mayo Cut Plug and Old Judge cigarettes didn't also have a love for the wonderful designs they made, as well as the extra money that the distribution of the cards with their product would bring them.

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Old 07-20-2004, 06:53 AM
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Posted By: barrysloate

Another factor to consider is that the production of baseball cards came and went- a huge circulation in years such as 1887-89, 1909-12, 1933-34, etc. Although there is a correlation between the popularity of the game and the proliferation of cards, these cards were issued only when there was an economic incentive to do so. When competition for the public's dollars was fiercest, competition to produce the best cards mirrored it. But when that competition lessened, the cards vanished. None were issued altruistically; there was always an ecomic component attached to it.

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Old 07-20-2004, 11:33 AM
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Posted By: Gary B.

This is a very tough question, but I'll put in my two cents based on my general knoledge and what seems to make sense.

As stated above though, I'm sure it's always been completely economically based with whatever was working at the time. When cards worked as promotional items to incite people to buy their products, this was popular, although this has continued throughout the decades in one form or another from tobacco and candy inserts, to snack food and cereal boxes, etc., at certain times it being much more popular and prolific than others, or focusing on a different demographics. In the 20's and early 30's, strip cards were prolific because kids could go buy a strip of them for a penny without having to buy any products at all.

Card production waned significantly during major world wars for practical reasons like paper shortages, but also because people's attentions were often focused elsewhere. Often even major players put aside baseball for years at a time to participate in these wars.

Then I'm sure there must be a correlation between the advent and proliferation of television in people's homes, and the fact that the card industry seemed to expand dramatically and be much more stabilized around the beginning of the 50's. Now people who lived too far to go to ballgames in person or would only read about it in the newspaper or hear about it on the radio had moving images to go along with names, and I would imagine that sparked more interest in cards on a national level.

When the 80's came about, and Topps who had dominated the market had serious competiton from Fleer and Donruss, this again I'm sure was dictated by economics, and some legal reasons that I've heard inklings about - someone here I'm sure can explain this, however if you look at the comic book industry at the same time, the market that had been dominated by Marvel & DC exploded also into having MANY major players in the field. I guess in addition to whatever legal reasons ended the monopolies, enough interest also existed to warrant competition.

As the 80's became the 90's, the card industry went crazy with SEVERAL companies releasing MANY different issues. I have no idea why this is other than these companies must be successfull since they're staying in business. It seems to me in recent times that the price of new cards has far exceeded inflation, as I remember as a kid being able to go to the store and buy several packs at one time, getting more cards in each pack. Spending $1-$2 back in the mid-70's just cannot equate to paying $25 or so which you'd have to pay today for the same amount of cards. Occasionally I'll be tempted to buy a new pack, but who wants to pay $3 for 8 new cards? Maybe less cards are being sold at a higher price to compensate for waning interest, as our national pastime has gotten MAJOR competition from football and basketball? I really don't understand it, as once Fleer and Donruss entered the marketplace, it was just too much to keep up with for me, as I'm sure it was for many. I had enjoyed the simplicity of one issue per year, and perhaps chasing after promotional issues by other companies that would come along. Now it's pretty moot as the vintage cards are what really spark my interest.

Maybe with the advent of more high-tech cards like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh and gaming holographic cards, the card industry has adopted this super glossy metallic holographic thick cardboard/plastic look that really doesn't do too much for me. I fondly remember the days when I'd be curious to see what each new year of Topps cards would look like, some designs being more interesting than others, but always different. The cards today all look kind of the same to me. At least graphically, cards have changed over the years based on what kind of graphic arts were popular at the time.

As far as I can tell, even though there has been some relationship between the growth of baseball and the growth of baseball cards, they do seem to be on somewhat different tracks, with economics, social and cultural factors playing a larger factor that the changing face of the game.

Anyway, some random thoughts from me on the subject...

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Old 07-20-2004, 11:59 AM
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Posted By: hankron

If you look at late 1800s trade cards, trading cards, commercial CDVs, scraps and such in general, you will see that early history of baseball and the early history of cards in general were independant. If you look at a Victorian kid's album, you will see that cards and scraps depicted flowers, Presidents, actors, puppies, cartoons, religion, etc etc. Baseball as a theme was only a drop in the pool and certainly didn't cause trading cards to be invented.

You will discover that sport, or at least sports card collectors, have had a larger influence on recent trading cards than they did in 1880 or 1930 ... Today's current market also shows that the popularity of the sport and the popularity of that sport's memoriabilia are not always parralel.

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Old 07-20-2004, 05:04 PM
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Posted By: Pcelli60

Three words come to mind for both the future of the game and collecting; GREED GREED GREED. Deal with it....

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Old 07-20-2004, 05:49 PM
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Posted By: jay behrens

The progression of baseball cards has nothing to do with the progression of baseball itself. The first great wave of cards was in the late 1880s and disappeared along with Victorian age scrapbooking. The next great wave came with inserts in ATC cigarettes and then caramel cards so taht the kids could also get cards. This came to an end with break up of ATC under the new anti-trust laws. The next wave came at the end of great depression and ended with WW2. The madern age start after age WW2 and explosion of the card collecting can be traced to the court ruling allowing Donruss and Fleer into the market and the eventual growth into literally one set of cards per player being released each year.

There is nothing taht happened within baseball that directly drove the production or lack of production of cards.

Jay

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