Coins: full court press. Cards: not so much.

Baseball card peeps, we're checking in from our road trip to Colorado.

This morning we saw a news article about why kids don't seem to be collectors any more. In the piece, the president of a rare coin and precious metals trading firm claims that the days of kids avidly collecting baseball cards are over. Kaputski. Why?

"Because of the United States Mint." Hmm, okay. We hadn't yet heard that theory. He went on to say, "The state quarter program, new gold and silver coins, and the new Lincoln pennies for 2009 have brought coin collecting to center stage."

We would now like you to guess what both our kids a while back decided--without any outside encouragement--that they would like to collect? [Answer: the U.S. state quarters.] Our older daughter was tiny when this became a goal of hers. It was not a deterrent that it would take years. Even today she always looks at any quarters given as change to make sure she has them all.

Many children attend coin shows, and the American Numismatic Association provides quite a vast background to help interest young collectors. There is an active online community of coin collectors at cointalk.com that includes a way for older collectors to mentor the younger generation.

It's clear by comparison that there's little effort made to attract young people to the baseball card hobby. Is this because baseball card collecting has just become too pricey and businesslike?

Many families put effort into the process and use baseball cards as one more way to build common ground and even make life a bit more fun. They do this with little or no help or encouragement from Upper Deck, Topps, or Major League Baseball.

MLB and the sports card companies have not used technology to entice young collectors to the degree that them there numismatists have. Baseball card collecting is directed now almost entirely to grown up collectors, except for that couple of years when boys go crazy for game used and auto hits. (Then they may or may not come back to cards after getting older.) Otherwise, is baseball card collecting being left behind in the wake of coinage?

If kids don't care much now, then in twenty years, who will collect baseball cards?


paulsrandomstuff said...

I think baseball card collecting may have an even bigger problem. Do kids really still care about the sport?

I don't often go to major league games, but I do attend a fair amount of minor league ones. There are usually a bunch of kids in attendance, but they seem to spend more time chasing after the mascots, begging their parents for overpriced food or playing video games than they do watching the game on the field.

night owl said...

Maybe I'm missing the point on your wonderings.

I fully agree that there is a lot more that MLB and the card companies can do to encourage young collectors. But I've been to both card shows and coin shows. I see plenty of kids at card shows. I seem almost exclusively people age 50 and older at coin shows. That's just my personal experience.

Covered in Wrappers said...

This also has to do with what parents collected or were interested in as kids. If parents like sports, or collected baseball or sports cards then chances are they will try and pass the hobby on. My mom used to buy me random packs of things at places when I was a kid, like WWF cards from the video store when she picked up a movie for her and my dad. My dad collected cards as a kid, and got me started off. Had he collected coins, maybe I would be doing that.

I agree that the card companies off no incentive to children. If kids are supposed to use their allowance to purchase things, what are they going to get in Opening Day or First Edition packs? If they offered just ONE product around $2 bucks a pack and had a few different hits per box maybe kids might like them more.

Cuyahogabend said...

They've got a six year old that is nuts about baseball and now baseball cards. Doesn't mean that won't change but until then I'm doing what I can to support him (including standing in lines for eight hours a day to get autos of retired Cardinal and Cardinal prospects) without pushing him either way. He's a set builder and Cardinal collector and as much as he loves opening packs he loves sitting in front of the 5 or 10 cent boxes and grabbing all the singles he needs plus any Redbirds.

Plenty of kids around us in our section at Busch, at the card shows, and this weekend at Winter Warm Up. Granted, the kids have to have P's who can afford tickets, spare $$$ for card shows, and willing to take kids through a mass of humanity for a B-grade prospect that may never make it to the Big Show. Coin collectors just need to sift through the change jar.

tastelikedirt said...

There are no card shops in my area, but there are a couple coin shops and they happen to have a few cards for sale on the side.

The A's have $2.00 wednesday day games during the season. When I go to these games there are usually a tons of school kids on field trips to the ballpark. You can see big bunches of kids with all matching color T-shirts peppered throughout the cheap seats. Don't know what that means, but I see a lot of kids at the ballpark on the $2 days.

JRJ said...

Just my 2 cents: I think the lack of kid card collecting has more to do with the prices of packs, than it does a state quarter.

I think the card companies have made efforts to attract young collectors (etopps, redemptions at the show booths, etc), but more needs to be done. They have to make it affordable and market their product better.

Great topic!

Jason said...

There's also no baseball card equivilent of the American Numismatic Association, so the only "organizations" promoting baseball cards of any kind are those two remaining major manufacturers who are fighting over the ever shrinking market.