Archive for fatherhood

Sticker shock could be scary sight for some

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on July 25, 2020 by Cardboard Icons

There was a time a decade and a half ago when I walked into a card shop and wondered what the hell happened to my hobby. I had collected cards for 17 years (from 1987 to some point in 2004) and then took an 18-month break. When I returned, I found that rookie cards — which made up most of my collection — had been somewhat placed on the back burner for autographed prospect cards.

As a result, the stuff I knew was worth collecting had fallen out of favor to a degree and prices reflected that as a new wave of collecting had begun. True, $2-$3 packs still existed, but much of the hobby had turned to bigger and (maybe?) better things. I never felt so out of touch. But I powered through, and got caught up on the information and trends that I missed during my hiatus. I vowed at that point to never let the hobby leave me behind.

It was at that point that I welcomed the new style and dabble in signed cards, but I also doubled down on rookie cards by buying older ones as well.

Over the last decade and a half I have meandered through this hobby in various ways. Along with that have been many life changes which also have impacted my participation. While my level of activity has varied, I’ve never felt I was out of touch.

And then Saturday happened.

My son and I walked into a card shop — one at which I had been visiting on occasion for more than three decades — and I was absolutely floored by the prices. I legitimately had sticker shock, almost as if I were seeing boxes and blasters for the first time, which of course is not the case.

I’m fairly active on Twitter, and listen to a podcast or two. I’m not ignorant to the recent surge in our hobby. I know prices have been skyrocketing in recent months and they’d been trending up for almost two years. But there was something about this specific trip that really made me feel … lost.

I see the posts all day long on social media, the ones offering blasters at double the MSRP; and of course the seemingly endless supply of OnDemand product that’s being priced anywhere from five to ten times as much as they cost direct from the companies. But seeing these prices today in person made me stop and think about where we are right now and where we are going.

Again, this isn’t new territory. I swear this is not just another post chastising flippers and businesses for profiting where they can. Hell, I feel for card shops like the one of which I speak. This specific shop has been around since the 1980s. I’m sure they enjoyed the surge of “the good ol days” and are making good coin now with the hobby hotter than ever, but they also had to live through the times when things weren’t so profitable; an era in which shops had to shutter doors because it didn’t make business sense to stay open.

So while the sight of a $49.99 2020 Bowman blaster is drawing my ire, I know that the shop probably has close to $30 or $35 into each one — so they have to turn a profit to stay in business.

There are lots of ways I can go with this post. I actually hope to cover many of these things in the near future as I return to writing. But I want to focus really on the feelings I am working through, specifically those of being a father raising a kid who likes cards.

It’s a bit disconcerting to look at the prices and wonder how we expect another generation to enter this market. This hobby ceased being “for the kids” about two and a half decades ago — I get that. But even when I was paying $0.75 to $2 for a pack between ages 9 and 12, it was still something I could figure out how to finance. If my 9-year-old wants to buy anything these days, he’s going to need a week’s worth of lunch money … and that’s if he’s lucky.

My son is fortunate that I’m in such a place in my hobby career that I get more out of his enjoyment and experience than I actually do from the cards these days. So I’ll buy a blaster that guarantees a hit and let him open and keep the pack that clearly is three times as thick as the others, or that I’ll order stuff and let him keep everything if he wants them.

But can you imagine yourself being a kid trying to break into the hobby these days?

Again, this isn’t new territory. I’ve expressed some feelings around this before on Twitter and may have covered a bit of it here, but today just felt weird — it took me back to 2006 when I returned to the hobby and felt as if I was a newbie all over again, only this time I was dragging my son into some financial foray with little fun involved because the stakes are so high.

“Oh yeah! I got a 1-of-1!” –

Posted in Box / Pack Break, Commentary, Kid Collectors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

Topps Chrome Update Mega Boxes are all the rage right now. And on Thursday night during a stop at Target to get groceries I lucked into a group of four boxes that were tucked behind some blasters.

This is my third time seeing them “in the wild” since their release. And even though I told myself I was done with them after buying a few last week, the fact that they were 10% off This week made me grab the remaining four.

I opened two in car — pulled a Vlad Jr. rookie and a green Refractor Hunter Pence /99 — and decided to keep the other two sealed until I picked up my kids. I figured I’d let me son pick one and open it if he decided to buy one with his birthday money.

I presented the option to him and of course he opted in at the $18 price tag. He looked at the two sealed boxes I had on the kitchen table and held one in his hand, looking at the odds. And then at the last second he switched the boxes with me … which I didn’t mind. This was about HIM, not me.

He used my keys to pierce the cellophane wrapper and then unboxed the seven packs. He grabbed the first one and ripped the back. It was at that moment — at about 8:50 pm Pacific on 11/5/19 — he had a monumental experience.

“Oh yeah! I got a 1-of-1!” he exclaimed as he pulled off the wrapper.

I was shocked. I stood up to get a better look — it was a yellow printing plate for Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu’s All Star Game card, #70 in the set. My son puts his cards in binders, sorted by team. Because that’s what you do when you’re new to the hobby — he’s only been actively involved for about a year.

“That’ll go in a holder,” he said as he looked at the metal card.

The moment got be excited, and damn near made my cry. Parenthood will do that.

We high-fived. We hugged. We talked about how hard it is to get one.

And not once — not even to this moment — did we talk about value, worth, resell price, etc.

I was 18 when I pulled my first 1-of-1. It, too, was a printing plate. It was a plate for a 1998 Topps Gallery Nomar Garciaparra that literally fell out of a pack I opened at the register at R&K Comics in Sunnyvale, Calif. I was in college at the time and sold it a few weeks later when I realized the card could net me enough to pay for a semester of books.

The market has certainly shifted over the last two decades — printing plates aren’t nearly as desirable, and more people than before argue against their 1-of-1 status since there are typically four plates for each card, even though they are in different colors thereby making them unique as the card states in the rear.

But the experience is what makes this a huge deal, and it’s these father-son moments of bonding that keep me excited about this hobby.

On a side note, I came home last week with a Mega Box of the same product for him. He opened it and also hit an autograph of Yankees pitcher Chance Adams. He was excited do that pull, but nowhere near as excited as he was in this night with his first 1-of-1.

Taking the day off …

Posted in Misc. with tags , , , , , on March 10, 2019 by Cardboard Icons

One of my favorite things in life is to capture the events of my children using a camera.

I went to college and became a wordsmith of sorts, a newspaper reporter who used words to paint the picture. Now 10 years after a career change completely out of journalism I find myself using a camera to tell stories of my son’s Little League Team — for fun of course.

Saturday was Opening Day, our third in this league — the same place I played as a kid, the same place former MLB players Carney Lansford honed his craft as a youth.

And so I shall spend much of the next day or so looking at photos and preparing the first images for the families of the team.

For now, enjoy this image I took in the dugout.