Remember baseball cards? The staples of the 80s and early 90s - and kids’ introduction to the lucrative world of the bubble market* - helped kids get acquainted with their favorite players and marvel at the laughably long careers of Tommy John and Charlie Hough.
(Now they don’t even have to be drafted first!)
But those days are long since over; the glut of cards that Topps and other companies put out at the beginning of the ’90s essentially oversaturated the market, and the numerous trading card shops that dotted strip malls across the country have long since been boarded up and replaced with real estate offices and consignment stores. The dream may not be dead, but it’s been spending an awful lot of time in the iron lung recently.
But that’s not going to stop Upper Deck from trying to make a buck in the sports world the old-fashioned way: on the backs of unpaid college athletes.
The top two trading card companies have lost their ever-flippin’ minds. They’ve finally moved up from the history-gutting desecration of Babe Ruth jerseys and bats of baseball’s best and just started slapping anything vaguely historical and creepy into a wax paper pack and calling it “collectible”, like George Washington’s hair.
You may find it shameful and ridiculous to chop up pieces of human history and jam them into the hands of OCD adults (because, c’mon, only the 10-year-old Alex P. Keaton’s trying to collect the whole Ronald Reagan set). You would be correct. We don’t send kids home from a natural history museum field trip with chunks o’Cleopatra for a reason.
Who’d ever thought that categorizing baseball cards could culminate in some clever word & number play?
Darren Rovell of SLATE unseals the story of Tom Geiderman, an employee of Upper Deck who was in charge of assigning numbers to selected cards. It was he who convinced the upper brass to name Ken Griffey Jr. #1 in their 1989 packs - a card that still sells well today among collectors.
Geideman took the task of naming the player for the first card very seriously. Using an issue of Baseball America as his guide, Geideman knew that card No. 1 would belong to Gregg Jefferies, Sandy Alomar Jr., Gary Sheffield, or a long-shot candidate, the phenom they called “The Kid.”
But putting digits to faces can become a monotonous task, so it was inevitable that the college-educated Geiderman would apply his smarts to having fun with some of the names & numbers: Read more…
Chris Olds of the ORLANDO SENTINEL has been a bountiful bevy of amusing information for us on this post-Memorial Day day. First, he very graciously goes through every recent Playboy to uncover which athletes have shed their suits for the mag. And now, Chris shares the news of the latest hair-raising trend in baseball card collecting.
Upper Deck will soon be coming out with a new set of card collectibles - featuring select strands of famous follicles. And it’s not just ballplayers getting the scalp treatment. Read more…