Think back to the time when you first purchased packs of baseball cards. For most of us that started in 1989 or before we would rip open the new wax packs and quickly stuff the gum in our mouth (YES packs of cards had real chewing gum in them and you could eat it!) and then begin the sorting process! The sorting process was a bit different for each kid. Some sorted out their favorite player. Some sorted out their favorite team. Still others sorted out rookies and star players that were doing well in the Majors at that time. But after the sorting was done the trading began! Tigers for Yankees, Reds for Cardinals and Royals for anything else!
Then the real quandary began. Where do I put these cards to keep them safe from my mom throwing them away?! If you were like most kids you simply stacked them in a shoe box or maybe wrapped them with a rubber band and put in the shoe box. (Modern day collectors are cringing and maybe breaking out in cold sweats as they read these words) When I first started collecting there was no eBay or any other such outlet to buy and sell single cards. So we didn’t really care much about the condition of the cards, we just admired the players on them and loved showing them off to our friends!
Then came along companies like Ultra Pro (http://www.ultrapro.com/) and others like them. They offered plastic 9 pocket pages that could hold our cards and be contained in binders! Mothers of the world rejoiced! Kids who didn’t want Mom to trash their cards anymore rejoiced as well! These 9 pocket pages were so cool, you could put 9 different cards in them and be able to show them off to your friends with ease! I even remember hanging some of them on my walls as a display for my cards! I remember putting full teams in them as they were positioned in the batting lineups! There was so many ways to sort and display them in these glorious pages!
Then as the sports card industry got bigger and better there was an explosion of things you could purchase to protect your cards! There were simple “card sleeves,” which was a card-sized envelope of clear plastic, with one end open to slide the card in. (Simple but easily bent, not very protective) Next was a “top-loader”, a rigid plastic case with one open end that was made for a single card or maybe two at best. (Better, kept cards from bending but were clumsy to hold a lot of them) Then came the big “screw down” holders which were made of solid leucite and ranged from a 1/4 inch think to 1 inch thick!! (For your “BIG MONEY” cards, lol!)
All the while, companies were trying to come up with the next best thing to hold your collection. As we moved into the most recent years of collecting “One Touch” holder have become the big thing, they hold a card in a two piece design with a slide-in hinge and tight magnetic closure. Amazing, we have magnets protecting out cardboard cards now.
I have explained all these protective items because all this protection has been a very nice way to keep our cards nice, clean and perfect. Sometimes though, I think it was so much more fun back in the days when we actually held the cards, read the cards, traded the cards and maybe even put the cards in our pocket because our favorite player was on those cards. It seems that with all of the advancements in protection of our cards we have lost the bond that we once had with our collections and possibly the players that are on the cards in our collection.
That just might be my love of these simple cardboard cards speaking up, but there is still many worn, torn and wrinkled cards from my early years of collecting that I have in my collection that I hold a special place in my heart.
As I have said before… Hello. My name is Joe and I am a Sports Card Collector.
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