Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Idea That Will Save the Hobby

I realize that in all of the scrambling to fill the group break during the last few days I've left a big hole in the blog in terms of actual content, that which determines readability of any one blog, so today I went all out and came up for something for you to chew on.

A couple of weeks ago, I bid on and won a Robin Yount card from the latest Panini Century Collection set. It has a sweet stamp on it and a piece of gray jersey. Take a look.

The thing about this card, is that it recycles a photo used by Donruss/Panini last year featuring Robin in his high school uniform. What was once fascinating and original now feels played out and stale. It only took a year, but now I don't want to see this photo on another card.

This situation got me to thinking: The photograph was probably taken from a school yearbook. How vast could the stockpile of old (pre-rookie card) photos of guys from this era and earlier be? I'm guessing the answer is "not very." Images could possibly be culled from local newspapers and the like, but that well runs dry pretty fast. Then it hit me. Who has more pictures of a young Robin Yount than… his family?

Here's the idea that will be the hobby's next big thing. Card companies have actually gotten to a point where the uniqueness of cards, through manufactured scarcity, has become an increasingly ridiculous pursuit. With 1/1's often numbering in the hundreds, even thousands, for any given set, nothing feels unique anymore. That's a problem. Some companies/sets have taken a step in the right direction with inscription autographs, but I've got something that can top even that. I'm thinking Polaroid Cuts.

Picture this: You're opening a pack of 2013 Upper Deck Cherished Memories. After thumbing through the first few base cards, you realize you've hit… well… the hit. You slowly inch the base card covering the hit to the side. You see a blue cap. You see a "KC." It's George Brett. Your eyes reach the middle of the card, where there's an encased cutting from a Polaroid photograph. There's a picture of… a blond-haired kid blowing out the candles on his birthday cake?

This could be the ultimate in connecting to one of your sports heroes. A product where the chase card is a cut family photo, supplied and verified by the player's family… wow. Each one of these would be one-of-a-kind, available nowhere else. Family photos are heirlooms, and they tell more about a player than a signature trimmed from a personal check ever could. If a company would get behind this idea, in combination with a classy enough set and design, it could create the biggest splash the hobby has known since the advent of game-used jersey and bat cards.

One obvious caveat to this idea would be the reluctance of the family to part with a treasured photo. Athletes' playing days, however, have spanned several types of technology. With a player who grew up in the 1980s or early 1990s, free double prints at Walgreen's could mean a greater amount of available images than, say, someone from an earlier era. The players who were young in the '70s would be the most desirable. I mean, how cool would it be to get a card featuring Mark McGwire's birthday party from 1974, or Ken Griffey, Jr. dressed up for his part in the school play?

Weird wrapping paper, flowing hair on everyone, unexplainable choices in pants, wood paneling on everything, horrible furniture, crazy nautical shit on the walls…
Imagine the scene above, only with Joe Carter, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, and Frank Thomas sitting around opening presents.

And one really awful lamp.

(Oh, and if this post finds its way to any card company representatives, now is the time to hire me.)


The Angels In Order said...

Awesome idea. And I love that photo. Thought it was me for second.

unclemoe said...

Different but not something I would collect.


night owl said...

It's a little too close to that "When They Were Young" insert set in last year's Topps. They weren't too popular.

Also, they did something similar with Boyhood Photos of the Stars in '72 Topps. Not actual Polaroids, of course, but I always wondered if Topps went to the families for the photos.

But yes, definitely a better idea than signature cut cards. Those are the worst cards of ALL-TIME.

Baseballislife1984 said...

the Yount card is still really nice!

I have a lot of Brewers stuff collecting dust. If you email me with your addy I will send it to you!

Retrofan said...

Honestly I thought this post was initially going to be about stamp cards. I think an idea like this would work only if you used only star players. Who wants a cut photo of the veteran catcher who now is in the bullpen? Perhaps a variation of this would be nice in a non-game used card for a base set, like a shots from the fans insert set (kinda like the you sketch it promo).

Dhoff said...

I like this idea, especially with Polaroids or even projector slides, which were used a lot in the '70s, and it would be cool if the slide was exposed on the front and back so you could hold the card up to the light.

This actually gets me thinking about relics from players' youths. Perhaps childhood toys, scraps of polyester prom shirts, etc. Of course, this could get studiply gimmicking and hard to authenticate, not to mention even harder to separate from a family's hands. I think the family's story about a picture or childhood relic would be crucial to making this idea work.