I see it with my son and some of the younger people showing up at the Trade Days that I attend. They are more interested in that shiny card, that auto-relic, that plastic-encased serial-numbered refractor, than in the true, pure joy of a well-loved 1933 Babe Ruth Goudey. Joshua now understands "Beckett value" as a basis for trading, instead of having a personal connection to the card that makes it "valuable." (I remember trading cards because I liked the guy represented on the card or needed it for my set, not because it was pretty or expensive. In fact, I put many cards in my spokes and drew goatees on some HOFers.) I am partly to blame for this, though, because, since my return to the hobby a little over a year ago, I got caught up in the chase for the 1/1 AutoChromaJerseyFractor of some unknown rookie.
"Hi, my name is Dan, and I'm a recovering baseball card collector."
(Everyone respond now: "Hi, Dan!")
I have since pulled back from chasing these cards, and now am concentrating on collecting sets and the Indians. Yes, I still look for relics and autos, but in pursuit of set completions and trades for cards that are meaningful to me. I have completed at least a dozen trades on-line with fellow collectors and bloggers, and made quite a dent in my want-list, as well as helping many of you with your sets. I feel better about my hobby now, knowing that I am not spending recklessly.
Now I get to the bigger problem with the hobby.
(Aside: I love my wife. In fact today is her birthday, and I am fretting over what to get her. Suggestions welcome, although they should not include appliances, power tools or anything that might make more work for me. And, No, she is not THE problem with the entire industry, just my personal involvement with it. She may be representative of other wives/girlfriends/significant others.)
She thinks that this is a childish endeavor. I spend too much time on the computer. My cards are taking up too much space in the basement, and are strewn all over the desk in the office. I am spending too much on buying Blasters and packs. I haven't kept track of my expenditures for shipping and purchasing collecting accessories. I'm not selling things in order to make up for buying things.
Should I try to convince her that this is a productive pastime? That I spend more time with my son showing him the interesting cards, the famous players, the favorites? That I am not overspending or underselling? That this is something I enjoy and affords me some escape, relaxation and fulfillment?
I think that to do so would be fruitless and diminish my enjoyment. To me, the search for that one card to complete the set, that 1965 Mickey Mantle that came in the box of cards I just bought for a song, the joy in seeing Joshua's face light up when he sees that 1933 Babe Ruth card is the reason I am doing this. It is fun, a simple pleasure, and isn't that what life is all about?