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Guest column: Why kids should collect cards

A letter from 12-year-old Parker Stenseth of Fargo, N.D., recently arrived in my mailbox with a note attached to a story.

“This is an article I wrote about why kids should collect baseball cards. I would be thrilled if you read it. Also, if you could, please send me some feedback or advise. … I hope to read my articles in a magazine like you someday.”

Well, Parker, I figured why wait for some extra space to open up in a magazine when we can present it all right here for everyone to see on the holidays. Oh, and a couple of Beckett magazines should be arriving soon, too. — Chris Olds

Why kids should collect baseball cards

By Parker Stenseth | Commentary

Baseball card collecting is a hobby for all, but in recent years it has gone a little more toward adults than kids.

There are still many reasons kids should collect, though.

There are so many reasons kids should collect baseball cards that I won’t be able to address them all. Of them all, I feel the most important is that it helps you connect with others.

As an example, I got started on collecting after my cousin, who I now consider one of my best friends, took me to a Twins game and bought me a team set of cards. (I later dropped that set in the sink being six, but my cousin was kind enough to buy me another.) That set of cards sparked a fascination in me that is still there today.

Cody and I still go to card shows, still trade and still go to the local store together. I have also heard a story of a dad with a mentally handicapped son and couldn’t relate to him that well but when his son got interested in cards they had something to spend some quality time together with.

Another reason kids should collect baseball cards is just the feeling of pulling a good card is like no other. I remembered when I pulled my first autograph, David Wright. I seriously couldn’t stop smiling the next two hours. Also being at a card show is one of the most fun things I can think of. It’s amazing being surrounded by so many pieces of baseball history and knowing you could buy some of what’s there.

Then there’s also trading cards with a friend. It’s so much fun looking through your friend’s collection and hearing the stories behind each card and then finding a card in their collection that you want and trading for it. Baseball cards give so much happiness and enjoyment that everyone should feel.

Next, I feel cards improve academic skills. I’m currently a seventh-grader that’s doing some mid high school work at school and I give a lot of credit to baseball cards for that. With all the numbers on the backs of the cards for stats and then sorting your cards and finding how much they’re worth, it would be hard not to learn anything about math, logistics or marketing skills.

Finally, I feel it’s a better way to spend your time than video games, Internet or anything like that. Baseball cards can give you a longer-lasting satisfaction and you can enjoy them with others. It’s also not dangerous, and there’s no negative influence on younger kids.

All things considered, baseball cards are a great hobby for kids and anybody else. It’s something you can do with others, it gives a ton of happiness, could teach you a thing or two, and anyone can enjoy it.

28 Comments

Michael Weber

I am 13 and I completely love this article. As a kid, I feel that the hobby gives you a better idea of finances and disappointment, and real world concepts. Unlike video games.

Posted December 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
Nick

Hopefully the market can stabilize with this stuff and work back towards giving kids something they can afford. They’ve allegedly started this movement, but it should be a lot better. Here’s hoping that day isn’t too far off. Great piece.

Posted December 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink
Joe Cullen

As a fellow 12 year old baseball card enthusiast, I’d like to say this was beautifully written. Enough said.

Posted December 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink
Michael Eubanks

Thanks Parker for writing this article and thanks Chris for posting it. I’m 30 years old and reading this took me back to when I was a kid. My friends, brothers and I would spend all summer mowing lawns. We once we felt we had enough money we would get on our bikes and ride about 5 miles to the nearest card shop and spend all our money. Then spend the next day going through our collections and trading for what we thought we just had to have. Those were good times.

Posted December 25, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink
Matt

I’m 17, started collecting probably around 9 or 10. Glad to see there’s still younger kids getting involved! I agree with Nick above that Topps needs to start making some more affordable sets so that it’s easier for kids to get involved. Does Topps realize that it’s ok to make a set without 10 parallels and 30 different insert sets? Keep the GUs and autos, because that’s what I remember getting exicted about as a kid (still do now, actually), but no more endless parallels that are going to be near impossible to collect all of unless you’re a millionaire. Of course, the main problem is that Topps has no competition anymore since Upper Deck is out of the picture, but I won’t get into that… Anyways, glad to see the kid above and at least 2 other commentors so far are in the hobby!

Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink
Kraig Feldman

Hallelujah Parker! As a 28 year old adult, its great to hear young guys like yourself loving the hobby. Even though the price of cards have seen unprecedented highs, there are a lot of great ways to collect in an affordable way. I hope that more kids like Parker spread their love of the hobby so that new generations can enjoy collecting as much as I have. Great article!

Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink
Mark

That is what it is all about….. KIDS. Let me be the first , Chris send me Parkers address and what he collects I will send him a package. For free! I started collecting about 35 years ago as a child and everything he stated is same reason I started collecting. The names the stats. No one cared about prices, just make the set or team set.
Happy Holidays!!!!

Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink
Andrew Friedman

im a 15 year old boy who got into collection last year iv met many nice people through trading and cards. i really like this article and i find all of it to be 100% true. believe it or not i had the same experience with my cousin. and i also agree that it builds responsibility because Michael weber is one of the best trader iv done business with. i love this article

Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink
Joey

It costs 60 dollars for a video game and some of the cards are still going for about 60 dollars a box with an autograph or two in them. When was the last time Super Mario gave you an autograph with one of his games?

Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink
Joey

I walked away from the hobby in the mid 90s and am now trying to get involved again but some things are getting very expensive. It’s either feed the kids or buy the new pack of topps five star, tribute, tier one, etc. I’ve always tried to get the best cards but it does start to burn burn a little hole in your pocket. Then you have to buy holders sleeves and other products. But as a sports fan you gotta to be in it.

Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink
Jonathan Iwanski

Mr. Stenseth, I teach writing at a college in Wisconsin. You are not only advanced in math, but you are a fine, fine writer, and I hope we all get to read your work in multiple magazines in the future.

Good luck collecting, and please keep writing!

Jonathan W. Iwanski

Posted December 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
Zach

Great article, thank you for sending it in!

It makes me remember being a kid collecting, and how it brought my 2 brothers and I and our friends who collected together. We would sit together all night with boxes and binders full of cards and trade. We all had our guys we wanted to collect. Even to this day my brother’s and I and my Dad go to local card shows when they have them and to the hobby shop to see what we can find. I plan on sharing the hobby with my kids when I have them.

Posted December 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

Love this article. I remember as a kid . Flipping cards–” holding them against the wall and they flip towards the floor. Each collector takes turns. Whatever cards yours land on and touch. You get to keep.” was fun and loved doing that. Not sure if people still do it. But it was great.

Posted December 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
jostens

i disagree. i find that little kids who collect cards are very introverted and awkward. if they love baseball or any sport, they should actually play the sport. baseball card collecting keeps kids indoors. how many teenaged collectors actually have a girlfriend? or shower regularly? and i’m being completely serious. go to any show and you’ll see scraggly little kids who resemble homeless children. i started collecting when i was 25 and it’s a fun hobby, just not for kids

Posted December 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
Pablo

Yeah cards, comics, coins, stamps, books, and other hobbies and collectibles don’t get viruses like computers.

Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:30 am | Permalink
Justin G

That was a great article, very well written. I am 28 and have been collecting for over 20 years and I can relate to all of those points he made. Once my wife and I have kids, I am going to make sure that they all have their own collection. I am glad to see that there are still some kids that collect and I hope that they have some more affordable boxes for kids to buy that come out soon.

Posted December 26, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink
Tom Waldron

I have to say not only do I agree I wish Beckett could do the Guest (with kids ) atricle a little more a great idea maybe that also could keep those future Chris olds out there intrested.
Simply it’s great to see that at 12 or 13 kids and younder kids are involved go look up youtube and look at the kids doing box breaks or showing their hits this is better than sitting in front of a tv.
thanks you Parker and Beckett merry christmas and a better happier New Year
TW

Posted December 26, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink
Andrew Friedman

in a response to jostens thats not entirely true, for example i dont even play baseball (i wrestle) but i still like collecting . and yes i do shower every day

Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Permalink
Cody

In response to Jostens:

The 12-year old in this article is a highly active boy by being involved in multiple sports and serving as in an officer position on his school’s student council. He is not introverted and awkward.

Collecting sports cards is a hobby; it isn’t something that will consume your life as you made it seem.

The point of the post is to give kids a reason to collect. This hobby continues to be driven towards adults and higher end products. He wants kids to still be able to collect and to be passionate about the trading card industry.

Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
Mike

If I was a teacher, that would get an A+

I’ve always said “just get cards into kids hands” and you will see their eyes light up and become instant collectors.

But the problem is that more than a third (7 of 20) of topps baseball products are priced $50-$500 A PACK!

Plus theres no advertising, well, except for bowman & we all know how kids “love” prospecting :(

Posted December 26, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
John Kenney

great article, and amazing story ….. welcome to the collecting family Parker.

I hope that Beckett will revisit the “Kids still Collect” article that was published a few years back and show all us Beckett members your sweet PC :)

Whether it’s baseball, hockey, or football the joy of collecting cardboard is like no other and the memories you will have when you get older will always stay with you.

If you have questions or need a guiding hand with what to collect the Beckett forums are a great place to be :)

Posted December 27, 2012 at 5:32 am | Permalink
grant

i agree you guys are 10-15 and using a bigger vocabulary than i have lol must be doing something right!

Posted December 27, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

If Topps were more like tobacco companies, maybe it would be easier for them to get kids involved. Maybe they could start putting cards in cigarette packs or maybe even put some gum in with the packs to get kids hooked.

Ohhh wait, they’ve been there and done that and sorry to be the scrooge here because after all that was a really great and heart warming article but business is business and they won’t direct product towards an age group that doesn’t rake in the dough.

However by not making it easier for kids to get involved collecting, they set their selves up for failure in the future.

I can guarantee you, I would not be a collector today, if I hadn’t been a collector as a kid. I would have absolutely no interest at all.

I feel that kids should absolutely collect baseball cards and Parker said everything right.. I hope the card companies take interest in Parker’s article, or at least I hope other kids take interest.

Well said Parker.

Posted December 27, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
Harrison Epstein

I’m 16 an it feels so good to know that there are other young collectors out there. Whenever I hear stories from other collectors they are usually older. To read this story makes me feel like there. Are more of us and that I’m not too alone.

Posted December 27, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
Tyler Clark

Awesome article. Companies put out products at affordable prices, but if it is even close to being a good product, the price drives it to make it just another product. I collect to collect not to make a profit, but what is the fun in throwing money at something without even the opportunity to break even. I open a lot of boxes, but with what I just discussed, I don’t know how long I can continue to afford it, much less kids.

Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Permalink
Tony

Parker,

First and foremost, thank you for writing this article. Really. I think your message is one that needs to be heard by everyone who collects sports-related items, and maybe even those who don’t, regardless of the person’s age. I’m 40 years old and I’ve been collecting a variety of baseball memorabilia since I was about 9 years old, but I haven’t collected baseball cards, or even bought a pack of baseball cards, in about 20 years. Thanks to your article, I think I’ll go out to my local baseball card store and pick up a few packs. :-)

Also, I would even respectfully add just a little bit to your well-written article: I think collecting baseball cards can only help increase the overall interest of youngsters in the game of baseball at all levels. That is, I think when more youngsters collect baseball cards, it’s good marketing/advertising for the game, and it helps the sport grow. When the baseball card-collecting hobby thrives, then so too will the game of baseball. Youngsters will be more familiar with a variety of baseball players and/or teams and/or the history of the game.

Once again, thanks for the well-written article, buddy. You reminded me of one of the main reasons why I love this game.

Posted December 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Permalink
Kevin

Great piece young man. Also kudos to Beckett for letting his voice be heard. I started to collect at a younger age then Parker and at 26 still remember taking my binder or cards around with me. I use to trade cards during lunch at school and I remember riding my bike to the local card shop and picking up singles before I went play in the afternoon. I hope Beckett keeps this upand maybe they should feature kids and their collections.

Posted December 28, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

Absolutely awesome piece! I too have collected for 30+ years and can take myself back by reading this article. I would like to add a couple of my thoughts:

I believe Topps is doing everything they can to balance “good business” and “affordability for kids”. Supply and demand is a simple concept to understand, and one can even add it to the list of things a kid can learn while collecting. The industry has spent far too long heading this direction for Topps to completely remove autos, GU, printing plates, and 1/1’s. But luckily there are no laws, that I’m aware of anyway, that require you to collect every known product line out there. Pick and choose, collect what you like. I, for example, love Topps base, Topps Chrome, and Bowman. I couldn’t care less about Tier One, Ultimate Collection never impressed me, I collect Paul Konerko and would just trade for those issues. Topps offers Opening Day and others that can be purchased after a day of cutting grass or selling lemonade, and gives kids the opportunity to collect like we did when we were young.

Also, I truly feel there has to be a joint effort between kids and their parents. It’s easy for a kid to grab a video game controller and sit in front of a TV all day. We as parents need to get them up whether its to collect something, go out and play, or both. Once I got heavy into collecting as a kid, my dad and I started collecting all the Topps White Sox cards ever made. He was in an accident and confined to a wheelchair when I was 14, and it reconnected us and gave us something to do together again. I have done the same with my 9-yr-old son in collecting Konerko, and he absolutely loves it. And just for that guy earlier, he still plays video games, still is active in baseball/football/basketball/and bowling, loves to play outside with neighborhood friends, and yes – showers once a day :) It’s the parents’ job to make sure this happy medium is kept, and turn the X-Box off once in a while.

Finally, if you are a true collecting fan like I am, and you don’t want to see the hobby fade away, don’t be afraid to get involved. Each year I contact MLB and Topps, and I hold a “collecting day” for the local Cub Scouts and others who want to attend. I used to own a card shop, and we don’t have one close anymore, so they allow me to sign up and hold the event. Topps/MLB sends me free packets that I give to each kid, they contain a pack or two of cards, a small collection binder, and a collectible patch. It also satisfies many electives for the Cub Scouts, helps them earn badges, etc. I, and some of my collecting buddies, display our collections for the kids to see and talk about. There is a small “presentation” that I give to talk about the history of cards and collecting. I have heard from kids and parents alike that they look forward to the event every year, and everyone seems to have a great time!

My apologies for the long response, but I saw this article this morning and it definitely moved me. What we adult collectors need to understand is that without new kids getting involved every year, we won’t have this hobby much longer. Kudos to kids who are getting in as new collectors, and super mad props to all the parents and adults out there who are taking the time to teach and enjoy the hobby with the next generation. Keep it up, Parker!

Lanny

Posted December 29, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

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