Kids who collected ’80s "junk" may be getting back in.
Sports Collectors Daily launched two years ago this Monday. If you’re scoring at home, the total number of stories we’ve produced now totals over 2600.
When this idea was conceived back in the late spring of 2006, I was convinced there was enough being written about the hobby in mainstream media and enough new information inside the industry to tell you we could produce at least four new stories a day on average, Monday through Friday, and that has indeed been the case.
One thing I’ve discovered in that time is that the horde of kids who grew up collecting cards back in the hobby’s ‘boom’ days of the late 1980s and early 90s have fallen into two camps. Those who collected as kids, rediscover their collection and realize their cards from their younger days aren’t worth anything. If that kid grew up to be a writer, generally that means there’s a column coming. One that usually pronounces the sports card hobby as ‘dead’. They look at the stats about the decline in hobby shops from their youth, grab a stat or two about the value of their Frank Thomas rookie cards and say that no one’s collecting anymore–certainly not kids.
The other camp rediscovers their old collection and something ignites. The dollar values they chased with Beckett magazines in hand back in 1990 aren’t so important to these guys–and maybe never were. Back then you could still find cards in grocery stores and gas stations and just about all of your friends were collectors. The old cardboard box or D-ring binder in the closet brings back a flood of great memories and they actually start collecting again–or pass the stories behind those cards on to their own kids who like to learn about "old-timers" like Sandberg, Yount and Mattingly.
Too often collectors who grew up in the 1950s,60s or 70s dismiss that era’s cards with two words: "overproduced garbage". To be sure, there are cases of 1990 Upper Deck and 1988 Donruss that right now aren’t probably aren’t worth the hernia risk of picking them up. But one person’s trash is someone else’s nostalgia. Many of the baseball card blogs out there now are being written by 1980s and 90s kids. They love the cards from their youth and there’s no good reason why they shouldn’t. Those are the folks who will keep the sports card hobby alive for another generation.
Those wax boxes and sets are now 15 to 20 years old. You couldn’t give them away a few years ago. Some dealers quit trying. But I see a lot of posts online about collectors opening those cheap older boxes just for fun and read a lot of surveys from dealers who say some of heir biggest sellers are 10-cent cards of retired modern era players.
If even one out of ten kids from that era get back into the hobby in the next two years after reading something on the internet and remembering how much fun they had buying them, maybe those who used them as kindling will regret it–at least a little.