Collecting Lidle: Another Perspective
Oct 12 2006 5:52PM
by Dave Sliepka
On Wednesday, the sport of baseball lost a player in a tragic, unforeseen, accident. The media -- and the hobby -- went crazy. Information, stories and card sales were everywhere. Searches for Cory Lidle on Beckett.com Wednesday topped a staggering 900. Why? Demand.
The public wanted it. It was an interesting story. It was sad. We all feel for the family and his friends. It was about someone we thought we knew. We really didn't know him, but that is how it is with public figures. We always want to know more. And collectibles are one way to make us feel closer to them.
So in this feeding frenzy of card and autograph sales, what was going on? I say the same thing that happens on this site and other sites every single day. People are buying and selling pieces of their heroes, small pieces of people they try to know. What happened Wednesday, with more than 900 searches and more than 400 individual card purchases, was completely normal. What made it different was the compression of time during which it occurred. Lidle went from relatively unknown to legend. It was the blink of an eye. For most athletes, that usually takes a career -- or at least a season.
Those who jump up and down and call the buying and selling "ghoulish" and "profiting on the dead" are standing in the middle of a forest, but can't see the trees. They don't get that this is what we do as collectors and dealers EVERY SINGLE DAY. What is the difference between selling a Thurman Munson card and a Cory Lidle card? OK to sell Munson, but not OK to sell Lidle? When did it become OK to sell Munson? When will it be OK to sell Lidle? Is it OK to sell Pat Tillman yet? Is it OK to want a Lidell card yet? So what is the difference in selling them today vs. a few months from now? The price will never be the same, so it will still be profiting. Not everyone buying one yesterday did it to make money. They were buying a piece of a legend.
Those who think it's wrong to raise the prices after a tragedy are forgetting something. The person in the tragedy is not the same person he was the day before. Just like McGwire was not the same the day after he hit No. 61. Just like Ben Roethlisberger wasn't the same guy the day after the Super Bowl. The difference with athletes like McGwire and Roethlisberger is that we had time to see the change coming. With Lidle, Munson and Tillman, we did not. The long-term results are the same though. That person, and our perception of him, is changed forever.
Lidle cards will never be the same value they were just a few days ago. When we choose to buy a piece of our legends, it is not in disrespect or greed. Sure, there is some of that. But more likely, it is a form of worship and respect. Most fans didn't know him before, but they want to now. And they want to include him in their collections.
That reality, that simple desire, happened to thousands in the blink of an eye on Wednesday. If you believe it is wrong to meet the demand of collectors who want a souvenir from Lidle's life today, can you tell me exactly when it would be OK?