I started collecting because I wanted to feel closer to my favorite players and the activity involved in collecting was a good outlet for my mild childhood OCD. And though I was a hard-core baseball card collector for over ten years, it’s hard to say the exact moment I realized my fate. It may have been the first moment I hefted a pack of 1986 Topps in my seven-year-old hand. It may have been when I got my first double. The list of precise moments is endless… and right now I’m not in the mood for nostalgia.
It seems like our hobby is built on nostalgia: it’s probably the number one reason– subconscious or not–why cards are bought (once you strip away the potential investment they may represent). Very few of us buy a card because of its aesthetic makeup or its importance as an historical object.
And that’s okay; I freely admit that I came back to collecting because of nostalgia. Once the spark is lit it’s hard to turn your back on it completely, especially when you’re fresh with the remembrance of an easier time, where saving up for a pack of cards was your biggest worry.
But there’s something nagging about nostalgia today: it’s been hijacked by the card companies. I have to surround it in quotes for it to make sense. Topps and Upper Deck are out to make a buck. And one of the ways they accomplish this is by jamming their versions of “nostalgia” down our throats. Sets like Topps & Bowman Heritage, Allen & Ginter, Turkey Red, the new Sport Kings line, Tri-Star products—they’re aimed at our love of that simpler time, but they’re not simple. They’re just skins for new players or a way to make a buck out of the back catalogue. If anything, they’re a much more expensive version of that old, fading memory. I guess real nostalgia just doesn’t fit into the equation anymore. Then again, maybe it never did and I was too caught up in being sold to to notice.
By the way, if Donruss still had their license, who do you think would’ve been on the 2007 puzzle? My money’s on Willie Mays.