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Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?

These are the essays from our first writing contest. It was very hard to pick just one winner! Many of the essays were written with heartfelt emotion and fittingly, a touching sense of nostalgia. Perhaps some of these might just inspire parents out there help their child discover the joys of collecting baseball cards. We believe that collectors have some keen insights into the sports card hobby which should be shared. Not only do we like giving away boxes of baseball cards (that's fun!), but we're trying to help spread the word about this fun hobby and hopefully do some small part to help keep this great pastime thriving. Our first contest was for a hobby box of 2008 Topps Baseball cards. The subject for this first contest was...Why should a kid start collecting baseball cards? Thanks to all of you who entered!
 

The winning essay is posted first and was written by davealcox from Milford NH:

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
There's no question children have numerous outlets that
exhaust hours of their precious time. Video games, television,
movies, texting, interactive internet vehicles such as youtube,
myspace and facebook have given children access to become
immersed in today's trends for youths'. However, a hidden gem
for our youth would be collecting sport cards such as baseball.
Baseball offers more than any other outlet a child could currently
engage in. Baseball is a national pastime. It is revered by both
young and old. Collecting sport cards can have numerous positive
effects for a child.

First, it would bridge a generational gap between young and old.
A kid can pull hall of famer cards and hear stories from people,
hopefully a relative, or even (this is really wishful thinking) a dad,
about the person they pulled. These stories would be great ice
breakers for parents/adults and children to start conversation.
Second, a child can greatly improve academic skills by
organizing and establishing a collection. Reading the backs of the
cards, understanding the subsets, determining differences such as
gold foil vs. gold cards can promote math, reading and logistical
skills. Reading where the person was born, and identifying the city
or team the person is playing for, could also improve geographical
skills as well. Third, the child can learn basic economics by
understanding values of cards. Using Beckett magazine, a child
can learn how to research prices and understand simple values
from odds that are stated on boxes to consumer demand by
popularity of players. These are the inherent skills, rather than
"wow...i have a pack of cards! I wonder how much money the
players inside are worth!" These skills would supersede the
'get rich quick'-I hope- vision that younger kids may have.
Fourth, aside from all the educational benefits, collecting is just
plain fun. It gives opportunity to go on 'scavenger hunts' for cards
to finish sets, opens dialogue with people who like to trade, and is
a much more affordable hobby than other activities already identified
earlier.

Unlike the other activities listed above, it's a positive outlet for
children that can continue well into adulthood. If you're 50 and
you're still texting your friends 100 times a day, or playing video
games for hours, or writing on your friends myspace walls until 3 AM,
people will look at you funny and think you're a little odd. If
you're 50 and you're going after a hard to find David Ortiz card to
finish your set, people are excited for you and will try to help you find it.
I hope these arguments can convince children of all ages of the
benefits of collecting :)
Dave Alcox

Our honorable mention and number 2 pick goes to a more controversial essay. The writer, Jason Voyles,  eloquently points out some of the challenges currently faced by the hobby.

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?

As much as I hate to admit it, I don't anticipate winning the box of 2008
Topps. It's not that I can't effectively and articulately pen a response to
the question at hand. I can. It's not that I don't want the box. Trust me,
I do. It's that my answer is controversial and may not be exactly what
you're looking for.

Kids shouldn't start collecting baseball cards. They currently
do not have a single reason to. And I don't think it has as much to
do with the competition for their attention as some might think. The
Sports Card industry has become a convoluted mess of inserts, game
used memorabilia, and endless variations. It is no longer a hobby
for children in much the same way that video games are no longer made
for 8 year olds.

The "targeted demographic" for sports collectibles are those guys
that started out buying up Donruss with their allowance. Those that
can afford the price structure that the hobby has evolved
into. Who's purchasing the new ultra violent PS3 games? Guys that
used to play Super Mario while listening to New Kids on the
Block. The kids that made these industries boom are all grown up now.

This creates another question. What made ME start collecting
baseball cards as a kid? I have to answer that by saying that I know
what made me, until recently, stop collecting. Price. Undecipherable variations. Bloated sets that made it impossible to "collect". Professional grading. The magic has been lost in the marketing.

I am 28 years old with extensive computer knowledge. I have
subscriptions to all of the major price guides to include Beckett's
Online Database. Yet, I have wrestled for over 6 months to figure
out which variation I have of a 2007 Topps Co-Signers Hanley
Ramirez. I pulled a Babe Ruth 2007 Goudey Immortals Jersey out of a
retail box. My wife didn't want me touching the jersey. When did
the monetary value become more important than running my finger
across a jersey worn by the Bambino? I attempted to copy and paste a
list of all the Manny Ramirez cards in existence from Beckett into a
spreadsheet. My computer crashed four times before I gave up. How
could I even begin to create a master set of all of Manny's stuff
when 25% or more are all "One-of-Ones"

Why is there only one 2007 Upper Deck First Edition, yet you have
Elements, Future Stars, Premier, Sp Rookie, Spectrum, UD
Masterpieces, UD Black, etc. Tell me who that's geared
towards? Look at the pricing for these packs and then show me a kid
that wants to spend their only $10 bucks for the week to get 4
cards. Card Manufacturers need to change their intent, not their strategy.

Finally, what made me start back? Almost a year ago, I opened my
old shoe boxes to see what I could sell on eBay. As I sorted through
the cards "one last time" I was amazed that I could identify the
players on each card before I ever saw the name. Guys like Hensley
Meulens, Bo Diaz, Luis Polonia, Jeff Blauser, Phil Plantier,
etc. That is what made me come back home.

I don't know that the industry, based on the question, can be
fixed. I do know however, a 4 year old t-ball star sleeping soundly
in his bed right now that is going to help me put together a hand
collated set of ragged 1990 Topps sometime in the near future. I
won't have to market anything. I won't have a strategy for
convincing him of how fun it can be. I do have faith that he'll
understand the enthusiasm and the magic in my eyes. I trust that my
son will hear the faint whisper of a hobby tradition long gone.

Jason Voyles

Here are the rest of these excellent essays - thanks again to everyone who contributed!
 

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
As a child my grandfather used to send me a factory set of Topps every year for my birthday. My father however never let my open the sealed box sets. He would tell me that the baseball cards inside would be worth more money if the boxes remained unopened. I didn’t understand this, not at the age of 9. I would beg my father to see what the cards inside looked like and he always turned me down. Trying to explain the laws of supply and demand to a child must have been like talking to a wall. All I wanted to do was play with the cards. I didn’t even know many of the players at that time.

Eventually we reached a compromise and he took me to the local card shop and bought a Beckett and a couple of packs of 1989 Upper Deck. I’ll never forget that day when we came home from the shop and sat down in the living room and we opened three packs. The whole time my father was showing me how to look up the value of the cards.

“See, Nick this one is worth .08.” He would say

“And this one is worth .12.”

He told me that some day they might be worth more or less depending on the demand of those cards. Of course all I cared about was opening the rest of the packs, until we opened that last pack. As he was reading the numbers off for me to look up in the Beckett, we came across the one card that would change our lives forever, The Ken Griffey Jr. Rookie. When I read the value back to him we just stared silently at each other with our mouths dropped to the table. We both jumped up and rushed for the door. Before I knew it we were back at the card shop to buy more cards. We were hooked. After that we were hitting card shows, and buying packs on every trip to the grocery store.

I was very lucky to have shared so many great moments like these with my father. I’m 28 now and to this day we still have these moments. I don’t think there is a video game in the world that can give you that kind of joy. Kids today would also benefit from collecting because of the skills they can acquire while collecting. Skills such as basic marking skills: Networking; organizational skills; how to sell and trade; keep inventory; and the law of supply and demand. The Internet creates a bigger market for trading than I could have ever imagined. But nothing beats going to shows with your friends and networking and trading with people one on one. A skill they will use the rest of there lives. Who knows they could grow up to be on Wall Street or the next GM of a major sports team?

I could go on and on about the joys of collecting and why we all should do our part to help the industry. The main reason I collect is to own as many pieces of baseball history as I can.

Nick Vitello

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
Collecting cards can be fun. Collecting cards brings you
closer to the sport you love. Collecting cards can also bring you
closer to the ones you love.

Just imagine the fun of going to the store, purchasing a few packs of
cards, and ripping them open to see what you've got. Maybe a game
used card, maybe an autograph card, maybe a serial numbered rare
card; or maybe just a card from your favorite team. But the fun
begins when you share the excitement with your parent, relative, or
friend. Perhaps your parent will tell you a story about the
player. Or maybe your friend and you can pore over the statistics of
the player, or review how the player did in yesterday's game. Or
maybe you'll spot an error or variation in the card.

And the fun continues when you get home, organize the cards, and put
the cards away, either in top-loaders, penny-sleeves, plastic sheets,
or a cardboard box. The possibilities are endless. Should you
organize them by set and card number? Or by team? How about
alphabetically? Maybe you'll take the cards with you when you go to
the game with your parent and try to have the player sign the card.

And there are more decisions to make. Should I collect a specific
player? Complete sets (which one)? Inserts? Only rookies? Parallel
cards? Cards of players with the same first name as yours? Players
who went to your school or lived in your town? Die-cut cards? Clear
cards? Cards where the player pictured is blowing bubble gum? Short
prints? There are so many ways to choose to collect that there is
bound to be something for everone.

Do you want to trade the extras? Perhaps you can trade with your
parent or friend. Maybe you can make some new friends on-line and
trade with them.

Whatever you choose to do, just make sure to start collecting because
it is fun.

Andrew Algava

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
Baseball and other kinds of sport card collecting offers young
people a fun chance to learn about things that will help them with
lifelong skills. Using the up close and personal approach that
Donruss Studio tried on the backs of cards in the 1990's kids can
learn more about the players then just stats. Things like favorite
rock groups, foods and heroes give the kids something to connect to.
The fronts of the cards could use a split screen approach of the
player and an important other person in his life. Card companies
should abandon the inserts approach with contests that award prizes
to young people who are successful at technological skills. Examples
might include the development of the most creative checklist
spreadsheet, or the creation of a baseball card PowerPoint
presentation. Perhaps a written essay on the youngsters favorite
baseball hero could be added to the list. Or maybe a original piece
of artwork reflecting baseball. Packs of reasonably priced cards
could have bonus serial numbered entry cards in them that
automatically enter youngsters in the contests. Prizes could consist
of laptops, I-Pods, cell phones, and MP3 players. While no one can
predict the values of cards in the future, technology will be a very
important part of kids lives. What better way than to have them apply
skills toward earning valuable prizes in technology.

indybob

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
We need to build dreams in our children again and let them
know it is possible with hard work and determination you can achieve
anything. Collecting baseball cards gives us that one on one time
that a parent needs to talk with there child about drugs, alcohol or
just ask them how their day went. What could be better then spending
time with your kids and building a relationship and values at the
same time. We need to take back our children from the valueless video
games and give them dreams once more, that anything is possible.
Baseball card collecting is not just cards in a foil wrapped but
dreams waiting to be opened and a child's imagination waiting to be
unlocked. Baseball cards they are not a commodity but a way of life.

dukester6

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
Card collecting is a great hobby for kids who really enjoy and
appreciate the sport of baseball. It is a good way for them to learn
organizational skills - putting the cards in correct numerical order,
keeping a checklist of what cards they have and which ones they need
to complete a set, tracking the value of their collections and
ensuring that the better, higher priced cards are properly protected
and stored. It can also provide socialization and interaction with
others who collect - getting together with friends to trade cards for
their favorite players, or for cards that will complete a set.
Besides being an educational and enjoyable hobby, collecting can
also be a profitable one. Speaking from experience, it can be quite
a thrill when you pull a good card, open a Beckett and realize you've
got something valuable, especially in today's day and age. There are
quite a few more opportunities for getting a nice memorabilia or
autograph card than 25 years ago when I was a kid and started
collecting. Even though I'm an adult, I still get that sense of
anticipation when opening a pack of cards, a rush of euphoria when I
get a special card, and still hold on to that hope and expectation
that one day I will make that "dream pull".

acameroncrazy
 

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
Here is the pitch, he swings and it is a long fly ball deep, deep
into center field and it is a grand slam home run for the Big Papi,
David Ortiz and the Red Sox win the game! You as a collector can
win the big game all the time by collecting something fun, small in
size and easy to care for. Kids of all ages can have a great deal of
fun; learn about the history of the players and baseball itself by
collecting baseball cards.

When a kid starts to collect baseball cards a whole new world of
excitement opens to them. A world of beautiful color photographs of
players with sharp, crisp uniforms and equipment. A world of game
action shots of great plays and hits by the stars of the game. A
world of pieces of game used memorabilia and player's uniforms to
treasure and hold.

The backs of these cards hold baseball history, facts and
stories. Do you know what your favorite player batted last season or
how many homeruns he hit? Or how about your favorite pitcher's won
loss record or era? There is a great deal of information waiting for
you on a baseball card.

When you start collecting baseball cards you can collect them any way
you would like. There are no rules to collecting except to have
fun. You can collect a complete set of this years brand like Topps
or Upper Deck. You can collect your favorite team like the Cleveland
Indians or the Atlanta Braves or any of the major league teams. Or
you can collect any of your favorite players like Alex Rodriguez,
Albert Pujols, or Dice K. The list is endless as to your collection.

And collecting does not have to be expensive, you can still go to
your local hobby shop, Wal Mart or Target and buy a pack of cards for
$2. The fun of opening that pack and not knowing what you may find
is part of the joy of collecting baseball cards. Don't be afraid to
ask your parents and relatives for packs of cards for birthdays and
holidays. It is a great way to build up your collection!

Kids, start today collecting baseball cards. You will be happy that
you started one of the greatest hobbies that you could ever imagine.

Bob Swick

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
In my humble opinion, of course, I believe kids of all ages
should start collecting baseball cards, first and foremost, for the
fun of the hobby. Especially with trading sites like SCF, you have an
excellent chance to trade for the cards you want once you buy some
cards and have cards to trade.

Now because of the high prices of packs, getting cards to trade can
sometimes be pricey, especially for younger kids, I believe the card
company's and MLB, who both make small fortunes in profits every
year, should have packs o cards give away days at MLB parks across the country.

I don't mean no stinkin common cards, I mean some auto's and GU and
inserts of the players playing that day, no scrubs need to apply. For
example, you are at Yankee Stadium, just a random stadium off the top
of my head, you would receive 1 pack with 1 auto and 1 GU card and
some inserts (card companies can make low end auto's and GU cards of
star player's and they know it) of Jeter or Rivera or Arod or any of
the other players that kids want to collect.

These give away's will lead to kids wanting to BUY more packs in
hopes of getting more and more fun baseball cards to collect and
trade. And I am sure some kids will make baseball card trades right
there during the game, now what can be more fun then that!

Card stores can also get involved and give away a FREE pack of cards
to each and every kid that enters there store each and every day to
help make some customers for life.

Now to make this the best for all worlds, also IMHO, Everyone needs
to be part of this. I know it can be frustrating trying to pull your
favorite player's baseball card, when there are too many cards of
insignificant players in packs. (of course these are for set
builders, mostly). Anyway, my suggestion is too add more star cards
to each pack and lower the prices of packs and wax and think of the
kids, I mean come ON, card companies and MLB, OWE this to the kids,
the future of the greatest game we play on this planet, Baseball.

Give the kids want they want and they will collect.

mrbaseball

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
I think kids need to learn about collecting so they can look up to a
sports person and the way they help the community where they live.
Kids need to spend more time learning and reading the stats which
helps them in school. My 8 yr old daughter has excelled in school
from us teaching her and her reading the stats from different
players. She has used the computer to research players and has a
better understanding of the games and has a nice collection of her
favorite players. She goes with me to the card shop and helps decide
what packs or box to buy. She helps me open the packs and the good
ones she puts into sleeves. When you take the time to show them
different parts of the cards stats and explain things to them they
learn to love collecting and hopefully they will continue to do so.
Make it fun and interesting as we did for our daughter.

cowboyz

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
Besides being the cards of America's National Pastime, kids should
begin to collect Baseball cards for many, many reasons. Baseball
card collecting and/or trading is a great hobby opportunity to have
open for yourself, and should not be taken for granted. This hobby
is a classic for thousands, if not millions of Baseball fans in
America, and also, around the world.

Some people will look at baseball cards and think that it's just an
ordinary "thing" that a child will buy, because they like a certain
team or player. Think again. There is much beyond baseball cards
than many people think. It's a beloved hobby that any baseball fan,
at any age, can enjoy. Kids can get hooked into baseball card
collecting or trading as easy as just buying one or two packs at your
local retail store, to start off. Many people become sports cards
collectors at very young ages.

For one thing, cards bought should not be treated badly. None of
them should be. Someone might buy some cards and not get anything
too good (to them, at least), and will toss them into an old shoebox
to get bent and dusty. You may not know it, but one card that might
not even look special, could someday be worth a lot of money. I bet
collectors from the past first got a Barry Bonds rookie card, and
thought it wasn't too great. Looking back on that, it's worth
something today. Cards like that can also be used in trades. Don't
need/like a certain card? List them or show them to other people and
see if they need them. You might not know it, but they might just
have something YOU want.

Usually, on these trading sites, people expect you to be a certain
age, like an adult. But sometimes, kids can trade online with the
help of their parent(s). It's easy! List some cards, post some
replies, and send away! It might seem like a hassle to some people,
but it's easy and fun! Sports card trading is a great social
hobby. You get to know people online by trading with them, plus, if
you go to card shows, buying, selling, or trading with someone there
can help you be more social.

Some kids with no collecting experience may expect a card to just be
a piece of paper with a players' picture and some stats on the
back. But what some don't know is the hobby is beyond that. You can
pull game-worn/used cards of players' jerseys, bats, gloves, or even
autographs! Cards now a day like that come at high odds, because
they are really exquisite or worth a lot of money, so that may be a
put-down for some kids, but too many really great cards come at low
pulling odds, too! Cards that are numbered to a certain serial
number are easy to find, as well as some game-worn/used cards! Don't
be put down by odds. A card may have odds of 1:100,000, but hey, you
just may be that 1.

So, over all, sports card collecting is one of the most beloved
classic hobbies, for hundreds of thousands of people around the
world. Don't let this opportunity go to waste! It's better to start
off sooner than later, to get a good start! Use this description for
future references, because this may be your guide to having one of
the greatest hobbies in the world, in the palm of your hands, literally!

Josh Sazin

As a father with a son who has two
neurological disorders (my 18 year old son Joshua
has both Aspergers and Tourettes Syndromes), I
wondered if I would ever be able to personally
relate to Joshua. However, when Joshua was in
middle school, he developed an interest in
baseball card collecting. Having collected
sports cards when I was a kid, Joshua
re-connected me with my childhood hobby and card
collecting connected us with one another.

For Joshua and me, card collecting has become
more than a hobby … its a valuable way for us to
spend quality time together. Whether going
through my collection of vintage cards from the
‘50s and ‘60s, attending a card show at a local
mall or sharing in the cost to split a box of
Topps 2008 baseball cards, we enjoy the
excitement of pulling an insert card or
reminiscing about star players of the past.

This year we’ll venture on our fourth annual
father-son baseball road trip, seeing eight major
league games in eight days. At the end of the
trip we’ll have seen all 30 major league
ballparks. Of course, we’ll stop and purchase baseball cards along the way!

jime

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
I am now an 18 year old and have been collecting since I was
young. Kids have many options to keep them entertained, so why
should they collect cards? I started collecting because I wanted to
find some way to keep connected with the players I like. I had a
chance to get an auto or piece of their jersey and this provided me
with a chance to connect with the players. I had many options but I
was a way for me to stay in somewhat touch and be a fan.

Later I turned my collection into a business and found a possible
career option. Cards gave me so many options, from collecting, to
trading, to running a business. Kids should collect cards because it
provides them with the possibility to do many thing. It provides
kids with many different options and allows them to make connections
with players and friends.

While video games and TV give mindless forms of entertainment, cards
allow people to think about making deals to grow their collection and
find a way to develop relationship and social skills. Cards allow
kids to grow and connect with other people and can give them
something to keep in the future.

Andrew Larkin
Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
After donating thousands of cards each and every year to children's 
hospitals an other children functions.
I let each an every child know why they can really enjoy collecting 
like I've done for years.
The fun of knowing more than watching a game, you learn both 
professional and personal sides of players. From there stats to the 
players likes or even hobbies etc.
And all the friends you get that also collect. From as close as the 
child next door to collectors half way around the world.
To tell them stories like I heard growing up. From cards in the 
bicycle spokes to the grand ole game of pitch which was like marbles 
but played with cards. To getting that famous shoebox from a relative 
had put away for years.
Something you can call your own, to protect and take care of all by 
yourself. Items to be proud of and display. A world all to us in the 
joy of collecting. Just because you get a card of someone you might 
not collect doesn't mean it is any less important than the ones you 
collect. Because there is someone out there that might need it for 
there collection. So you trade to help each other out in your own collection.
And the last thing which is the most important thing I believe is to 
have fun in your hobby.

MURPHYFAN
Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
A kid should collect cards he/she likes, and when the child grows up, 
he/she hopefully can recall the past times of those cards that 
provided happiness of a time, our youth, that we all want to 
preserve. That's what baseball cards do, they preserve the sport's 
moments, captured in photography and information, statistics on the 
backs of the cards. The players will get old, and retire. But on the 
baseball cards, they will always look young, the way we want to 
remember them. Many of us won't be lifetime collectors, but we will 
always want those cards we had as a kid to be treasured like family 
pictures. I didn't really collect as a kid, because the cards I had 
was only a handful, too meager to be called a collection. But when I 
became an adult, looking at those old cards, inspired me to revive my 
youth, thus I became an adult collector. I enjoy looking through my 
collection, because they provide memories of those baseball heroes of 
our youth. I had also enjoyed reading when I was a kid, and reading 
about the older era players before my time, made me admire them, and 
made us chase their cards, to have a piece of of their glory. That's 
why a kid should collect baseball cards, because the sport is 
important American History, and we all like to believe we can 
participate in moments of athletic achievement not available in 
reality for us, so through hero worship or vicarious experience, we 
can be attached to the boys of summer. We want to believe these teams 
are our teams, these players are our players. So we want to remember 
them. And a baseball card is a neat item to represent a moment of 
happiness obtained by following baseball, a moment of our youth, and 
also of history. Both, ours and the sport's.

drakengold

Why Should a kid start collecting baseball cards?
The problem with card collecting today is not the fact that
cards have become more attractive (in style, type of card stock, or
artistic design), but that prices to buy packs of these cards have
become too expensive for the average young adult (kid) to even buy.
Topps, which traditionally is the least expensive, still has prices
for individual packs ranging from $1.50 to $2.00 a pack. Other
companies are even worse. It seems as soon as someone hears that
there is a rare (or short printed card) in the set, prices go up even
higher. Hobby shops are charged more for the cases, so they charge
more for the boxes/packs.

The original idea of baseball cards was for the young fan to collect
their favorite player/team, to collect and complete a regular set for
their own self enjoyment. Today, collectors are business people who
sole purpose is to make a buck. The card companies have gone along
with this scenario and forgotten the main fan base of their product.
I am a collector and for the past several years, have become more
frustrated every year on how long (how many boxes I must buy) it
takes to complete the regular set.

If card companies are serious about trying to attract the young fans
back to card collecting, the first thing they did to do is lower
prices. Second, make collecting fun again. It shouldn't take a
collector more than 2 boxes to complete a set. 'SP' cards are nice,
but there are too many. Inserts have gone from a nice distraction to
an extreme annoyance for many (even diehard collectors). It may
already be too late, card collecting has become more of business
instead of a hobby. I trade here because it is too expensive to try
and finish off sets the regular way ( I no longer even attempt to
collect Upper Deck because of the difficulty in completing their basic sets).
Kids want to have their favorite players; they don't want to have to
worry about how much that card might be worth or whether or not they
might mar the card or not. Make collecting fun again.

Robert A. Stone

 

 

 

 

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