One of the great changes in the sports collectibles hobby, as well as in just about any phase of life, is the ever-growing influence of the internet. I think I read recently that for most people who carry the brand new iPhone, the power and memory of the computer within the phone is far greater than the more standard desktop machines of less than 20 years ago. Some of the amazing data we can pull up with the touch of our fingers is staggering.
It’s almost become a requirement for many of today’s dealers and collectors to have wi-fi access when attending a show. One of customers at the monthly show I help run has a very large COMC port and makes his decision about buying a card if he feels fairly priced and there are none available for sale on that website. Other dealers and collectors go online to look up eBay sales or Beckett prices.
So what would the hobby be like if the internet had either never been invented or be in its infancy today? What facets of the hobby do you think would stay the same and what would be different? Word would certainly spread slower. The internet’s vast marketplace has certainly revealed much to us about card production numbers, supply and demand and so many other things. Based on a recent online message board thread some ideas I have added, here are some of my thoughts on what our world would be like:
Shows would continue to be popular and a major metropolitan area such as Dallas/Fort Worth would have a small show just about every weekend with the occasional larger show tossed in.
Even a town like Minot, North Dakota (where a friend of mine moved circa 1988 and became one of seven stores) would still have at least a couple of card stores.
More people would still care about base card sets.
Vintage cards would be underpriced compared to their scarcity. Fewer newcomers who’ve been introduced to the hobby through online sources would mean slower growth in prices for rare and high-grade items.
It would take months, at least, to compile lists of the various errors, variations and parallels coming out of newer trading card products.
Collectors who sell cards would be advertising in print media such as Beckett, Sports Collectors Digest and the now departed Tuff Stuff…as well as smaller start-up publications. Those print entities would still be cranking out a lot of publications with large subscriber bases.
We’d have many more “in-person” auctions and phone auctions.
Cards would still be available in convenience stores.
There would be only a few autograph cards available and a low print run would be 1,000 rather than 1/1.
There would still be a few print columns about the hobby. In city newspapers, those would be especially focused on local hobby subjects.
Those are some of my thoughts, we’d love to hear yours. Contract me via the email address below.
I recently had one of those rare mail days which left me absolutely dumbfounded. I received a package from Topps with a replacement card for the 2011 Finest Rookie Refractor Mike Moustakas autograph card I had pulled from a box during the year of issue. Since I don’t keep track of those things, I was shocked and happy to see any card, even three and a half years late. What I got wasn’t Moustakas. Apparently he never did sign—or not enough. What I received from Topps was a 2014 Stadium Club Oscar Taveras autograph card.
I could swear that was the first time I ever saw a dead player’s autograph used as a redemption for a different card.
For fun, I posted a note on a collecting message board and got an interesting range of reactions as well as an offer from a collector who was willing to trade for it and so that’s what I did. Taveras signed quite a few cards for Topps before his unfortunate passing last fall, but seeing it used to fill a redemption was one of the more unusual things I have seen from Topps or any card company.
To use a vintage card reference, that is almost as wild as when Ken Hubbs, who had perished in a flight in February 1964 but made a guest appearance on the 1966 Topps Dick Ellsworth (boy, wouldn’t you like to have heard Sy Berger the day he found out about that error). There were some strange things that year with Cubs’ Topps cards. Don Landrum, a journeyman outfielder, had three different variations as Topps tried to conceal the open pants zipper on his photo.