Pitchers and catchers. Packs in the stores. Rejoice…even if you’re old school.
I can’t say I’m passionate about modern baseball cards. My tastes tend to run toward the vintage side. But there’s something right about the move back to releasing the new season’s first boxes in conjunction with spring training. I’m actually anxious to see what they look like. Ready to maybe open a few packs or a box or if I’m lazy, just buy a set. It’s the way cards are supposed to work. New season, new cards.
Companies used to race each other to get their products out before Christmas. It made no sense. One season had just ended and a few weeks later..before the start of the new calendar year even..the next season’s issue was on store shelves. Players who would be traded just days after the season would still be pictured in their old team’s uniform. Others retired and still had cards the next season. A few more would be released after the season but still have a card. It was more of a "year in review" set than a current issue.
Not everything is right with the world. I still wish Topps had more than two series. Back in the day, it was exciting to walk into the grocery store and see the "5th series" sticker on the wax boxes. For one, it meant the gum would probably be soft and fresh. And we knew there would be 132 cards we didn’t have somewhere in that box. I remember travelling about 80 miles south of the home I grew up in to visit my Dad’s relatives sometime in mid-to-late summer of 1972. We walked into cousin Tino’s liquor store, which like most liquor stores back then, inexplicably stocked with baseball cards. As if somehow buying your kid a few packs of cards made the whole visit somehow wholesome. We didn’t care. It was just another place to see what they had. Fleer stickers? Baseball? The new football cards? I was 10. And there they were, sitting on the candy rack about midway down. Baseball cards. The sticker on the box said "7th series". So this is how they lived in the big city! Those packs were almost exotic. And suddenly one of those boring trips to see the extended family was just a little bit more tolerable.
There was only one manufacturer back in the 1970s, so maybe that kind of thing is impossible to recapture. But If I were in charge, I’d try it. Put one series out each month from March through August. Maybe kids wouldn’t bother. But I think they might. Kids like new things just like we did back then. It’s something to look forward to. If they wouldn’t get excited about it, I know adults who grew up in the 60s and early 70s definitely would. It would surely make putting sets together by buying boxes a lot easier. It might even eliminate the need for the traded/update set, but if not I’d also go back to create the affordable little boxed sets like they were in the 1980s and early 1990s. Somehow putting a set together for $40-50 and then having to pay double that for an update set at the end of the year doesn’t seem right.
And wouldn’t it be cool if wax boxes actually contained wax packs again?