For being such a speculative hobby, there sure are a lot of reactive moves rather than proactive ones when certain milestones are hit.
While a lot of collectors jump on the bandwagon for the Stephen Strasburgs and Bryce Harpers of the world, thinking they will be the next big thing in baseball, when it comes to certain populations of the hobby, it takes a higher calling to gain attention.
Case in point is Ron Santo. While a good player, some would say a great player, he didn’t demand a lot of attention on the secondary market – even with Hall of Fame credentials. And since that HOF designation didn’t reside in his biography previously, many people laid off pursuing him. Now that’s he’s been selected to the Hall of Fame, starting in 2012, the reactive collectors have come out of the woodwork. It’s the same thing with each class that is inducted every summer.
So why does the forward thinking – and resulting insane prices – only factor into the hot rookies in any sport when speculation comes into play? After all, the best those rookies can hope to accomplish is to eventually become . . . a Hall of Famer. Why wouldn’t you go after prospective Hall of Fame candidates instead, where the staying power, if elected, is guaranteed to remain high on some level compared to the unknown of a rookie?
I’m thinking big hobby picture here. Obviously, in the card market, the lure of the rookie cards lies primarily in the high grade and limited nature of their production, in some cases 1-of-1. When there’s just a single representation, it definitely draws a crowd and some competition.
But I digress, as I’ve spoke often about the rookie vs. Hall of Famer collecting angle.
Regarding Santo, I guess this is what the Golden Era Committee was set up to do: Make sure players like Santo get in. Hodges, Kaat and Murphy fans, I expect to hear from you about this.
On another subject, I recently had to explain why baseball makes up most of the sports collectibles market to someone who wasn’t familiar with the hobby. First off, they were surprised when I said baseball was the most popular category of the hobby to collect, by far.
I guess I understand why that might surprise someone not familiar with the hobby. After all, if you’re looking strictly at the sports landscape of today, football might be the more popular sport. Basically slated to one day a week and plastered all over television, football is extremely popular at the moment. And you could argue that the NBA, thanks to ESPN and TNT, gets a great deal of exposure to the point it might seem more popular than baseball (although the lockout didn’t help matters).
But when it comes to collecting, baseball is king. The history and players involved overshadow any other sport. Baseball grew up with citizens of the U.S., passed down from generations in cities across the country. Through radio and later television, it captured the public’s fancy, and that has translated into collectibles, from trading cards that date to the late 1800s to game-used jerseys that sell for six figures.
People always say how football draws such big crowds. But games are only once a week. Baseball stadiums are filled 81 times a year in 30 cities across the country. For every paltry Florida crowd, there are jam-packed houses in St. Louis and Boston. I could go on with reasons, but I think I’m preaching to the choir.