Rich’s Ramblings: Special New Year’s Edition

by Rich Klein

This is the time of year where everyone, including me, writes these trite columns about what occurred in the previous year and what we’d like to see for the next year. When I was sitting in services the other night, our Rabbi asked me why he had not seen me for more than a month. After I responded about the litany of issues which began with the little car mishap on December 7, his response was why didn’t you call to let me know any of this. He truly meant that as his other words were ‘I’d rather here news like that from five people rather than inconsequential news from anyone’. Our synagogue’s mission is that be a community of friends and in many ways, the little synagogue does live up to that purpose.

Hearing those words got me to thinking about what I’d like to see in the hobby in 2012. I do realize that many of these wishes will not happen, but we can still wish they come true.

My first wish is for more shows, which would also be bigger and better than in the past few years. I do realize how much easier purchasing cards over the Internet is. In today’s world, you can sit on a computer, make a payment electronically and just wait for the card to arrive at your residence. However, there is something to be said for actually seeing a card before you purchase it while having a conversation with the dealer or collector you are buying the card from. In addition, in many cases, in the competitive situation that most shows are, you might be able to haggle the price down a bit or walk around and see items you never realized you may have wanted. The other great part about shows is that you might literally bump into someone with similar collecting interests that you would never have found on the Internet.

I grew up with shows. I have attended or set up at maybe 2,000 shows in my life. I love the concept of the wheeling and dealing. At some shows, there might even be an autograph guest or two or more available.  In the earliest days of autograph guests at shows, it was nothing to get a Hall of Famer for five bucks. Our editor, Rich Mueller, would like me to write about some of the “superstar” shows I attended/set up at in both my younger days and even through today. We will discuss the autograph show concept in a future Rich’s Ramblings.

I’d also like to see more sports card stores and I’d like to see the better ones continue to thrive. Again, I understand many collectors may not like to do in-person shopping, or have to pay sales tax or contribute to other expenses a brick and mortar has that people with just an on-line presence do not have. But a great advantage to a good hobby store, is you know the store was there yesterday, is there today and will be there tomorrow. There is something to be said for constancy in this hobby. I often refer in my box reviews to my very local store, Triple Cards in Plano and I’d also like to point out that the other shop reasonably close to my house, Nick’s at Coit and Campbell, is also very good. Both shops are truly part of the neighborhood and are more than just places to purchase baseball cards and supplies.

My third wish is for all the card companies to have good years in 2012. We would not have a continuing hobby if card companies do not succeed. Granted sometimes situations are beyond control such as a basketball lockout which prevented Panini from producing cards for several months. However, as a general whole the hobby seems to be entering a period of appropriate card production. As long as everyone remembers this is not 1991 any longer but two decades later, then even the collectors will understand that card companies usually do the best they car under what can be very trying circumstances.

One aspect that ties all of these wishes together is that all relate to the hobby community and most are in-person related as well. A truly great aspect of the hobby is meeting fellow collectors, learning what they collect and sometimes even getting into a friendly competition. Community is an aspect of our society which, in my opinion, we need to cherish and grow. There is nothing wrong with creating on-line communities, nothing wrong with good Internet chat rooms and frankly nothing wrong with buying cards on-line.

However, there is something so much more about talking to your fellow collectors, and seeing items as you buy them at a local show or store. The face to face communication of this hobby is an aspect that can never be replaced, just as a Rabbi such as the one I mentioned in the opening paragraph can never be replaced either. So what I really wish for the hobby in 2012, is a growth or a re-birth of the hobby in-person community so we do not all just come together once a year at the National Convention but several times a year in various places throughout this country.

Happy New Year! Go to a show or a store today!

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]