The Next Generation of Collectors

A Young Collector's Perspective on the Hobby

by Owen Randell


Let me begin by introducing myself. I'm a 14-year-old, vintage baseball card and memorabilia collector who lives in a very rainy village in England. In this article I would like to share my perspective on the card and memorabilia collecting hobbies, as well as what I think should change within them. You might think it's odd for a boy living in the U.K. to have an obsession with vintage baseball cards, but I hope you will be interested in my opinions on the topic.

If I ask any collector I know, I'm sure they will agree that the hobby we love has changed drastically within the past 30 years. Once upon a time boys and girls were trading with friends and ripping into their .25 cent wax packs in order to complete their sets, but now the hobby is filled with men tossing aside cards in hopes of finding a prized chase card, which may contain a rushed, barely-legible autograph. Few people can even remember the days when baseball cards were prized possessions and pinned proudly on a young Mantle fan's wall, so it's very easy for me to say that the modern baseball card hobby has changed quite a bit.

In 2016, most children just aren't interested in collecting cards, let alone vintage ones, but there are many reasons I love the older cards. For me, cards made in the mid-1950s and before are like art, with amazing backgrounds, colors and detailed logos. A great example of a stunning card issue is the 1914 Cracker Jack series, with my personal favorite being the Joe Tinker card. Each card features hand-colored photographs, perfectly capturing the personality of the players, and vibrant red backgrounds.

Every vintage card tells a story or gives us a snapshot of history. One of my favorites is the 1947 Bond Bread Jackie Robinson series. This issue shows that some companies were finally willing to endorse and accept African-American players in baseball. This was a big first step in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

So why were more kids collecting cards in the past? What can we do to improve the hobby for the younger generation? I think that baseball cards need to be more accessible and more affordable to kids. The manufacturers should lower their prices and, perhaps, remove high-priced chase cards out of their product. Card companies and teams should also consider giving cards away to children to get more people interested in collecting. Moreover, players should take time to sign autographs for youngsters and become more accessible like they once were.

I hope my fellow collectors can likewise help promote the pastime by doing their part, helping to create future generations of hobbyists. By sharing cards, stories and advice with young collectors, we might just succeed.