Bryce Harper and our hobby

Until this week, I really hadn’t given Bryce Harper a lot of thought. I mean I know he is supposed to the greatest thing since Stephen Strasburg sliced bread, but he has not really been on my radar per se. So it came as somewhat of a shock to me when I learned the kid was born in 1992.

Now people had the same reaction years ago when they learned I was born in 1980. And for people my age, we react the same way now when we learn of some young athlete who was born in late 1980s and early 1990s. I get it.

The reason this intrigues me is because I really do wonder if Bryce Harper ever collected baseball cards?

Granted the kid is 16 and decided to forget all about high school and made a b-line for work (professional baseball), so it’s possible that cards were never a part of his being. But the answer to the question could give us some insight about where we are headed.

Harper was born AFTER the big card boom of the late 1980s, so he wasn’t alive when Ken Griffey Jr. became Upper Deck’s No. 1 card. He didn’t get to see the  craziness that surrounded the 1990 Leaf Frank Thomas card — or the 1990 Topps No Name Error. And he wasn’t alive to open a pack of 1991 Donruss with the hopes of finding an Elite Series insert.

On the flipside, he was probably about 8 or 9 years old when the new generation of collecting (the one including autos and game used) really took off and prices of packs skyrocketed. Given his age, we know he didn’t have a job to get him into, or support, this expensive hobby.

Many a collector joined the hobby during the late 80s and early 90s, a crucial time that we have since deemed the Junk Wax Era. Sure, the cards are damn near worthless these days, but like it or not, that period of over saturation was the beginning for many. And given that Bryce was not alive to witness any of that — and was probably priced out of  the hobby a decade later — I wonder if he ever stepped foot in this hobby.

For years we’ve been talking about how this hobby needs to get kids involved. But if a baseball prodigy like Bryce Harper couldn’t get into the hobby, then what makes us think that any other kid might have?

Now on the other hand, if Bryce was/is a collector, then maybe he can shed some light on how he got into the hobby.

I’m sure we could ask any kid collector these same questions, but Harper’s answers could carry more weight. It just seems to me that a teen with so much talent for the game would have at some point picked up a piece of cardboard. I’d like to know what drew him in, if anything. One thing’s for certain, though. It definitely wasn’t the gum.

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