Concern for Kids, Hobby Future Not a New Concept

We hear a lot about kids being “priced out of the hobby” or not being taught the simple fun of collecting.  That’s not a new concern.  Below is a column written by Bill Heitman in a 1979 issue of The Trader Speaks.

The hobby is for kids, too!

We should never forget it. It is those dreams we had as young boys that make us “collectors”. remembering how we accumulated as young boys that makes collecting baseball cards very special.

But we do forget it. As prices soar and investors move in. Though there’s nothing wrong in investing in baseball cards, we should never forget the kids. They are the hobby. They provide those of us who are long past our childhoods with countless memories. Those starry eyes. Those dreams of Babe Ruth, who had passed away before I was bom, but lived on with pictures laminated onto cardboard. Our future in the hobby lies with the kids who choose to remain, in part, kids forever.

As a collector all my life, a baseball nut all my life, some of my happiest times today are spent with the kids whose eyes grow large when they see a card of Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays. Those were my roots. This summer, I decided to collect 1979 Topps—I mean, really collect them. So I began to buy packs of cards. With each new pack, I recall the frustration of the ’50s when all I could get was someone I already had.

But, oh, the thrill when I find one I need. Now, I can see, Rodney Scott can be just as important as Hank Aaron. I’ve had neighborhood kids in the house to trade cards—they always leave with some card from the ’30s, ’20s and even, once, one left with an Old Judge—he had 13 1979 Topps that I wanted. Now, I’m working on my first, second and third sets all at once.

As the hobby has grown, we’ve seen the proliferation of conventions and the soaring of prices; and, I fear, sometimes, we’ve forgotten the kids. We so-called “advanced” collectors laugh at convention auctions where there are lots of Topps cards from the late ’50s. As we laugh, kids bid on those lots. And we forget that there was a time we would have loved to have won those cards.

We should take the time at conventions to get the kids involved. Just because prices are high, it does not mean the kids have lost their place. They are the lifeblood of this hobby, and we shouldn’t forget it.

I think that convention organizers should keep this in mind. Conventions could use more displays, trading rooms and activities like these geared for kids. I think “conventions” have been terribly bad when it comes to the education of collectors. One refreshing spot in this area was the one day show by Saddleback College in South Orange County, California.

It was a well-run convention and was geared to the younger collectors. We need more shows like it. This hobby lives because of the kid in all of us. Let’s not forget it so easily.