Beckett 20 Questions on … having fun in the hobby



By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor

The sports card world of just 20 years ago was immensely different from today, but one thing is the same for many collectors.

They just want to have fun with their hobby … right?

Defining “fun” will vary from person to person (see our Your Turn post’s comments section for examples) and we know that. One example of fun from back then was a Michael Jordan baseball card — his time as a minor-league player sold a lot of cardboard and it was fun to chase them simply because they were different and there were plenty available. And one brand of baseball cards back then was Upper Deck‘s Fun Pack, a kid-focused line that ultimately didn’t last.

It’s curious that it didn’t — there were surely a lot more kids (and others) buying cards then — but it does reinforce today’s manufacturing challenge of trying to decide what works and what doesn’t for collectors.  Kid-focused sets still exist, but that word fun remains hard to define when it comes to cards.

Despite this, we’re exploring the subject of fun and cardboard right here, right now in our latest 20 Questions. Tell us what you think on each one — and tell us more in the comments if you must.

1. Are you having fun in today's hobby?

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2. Which of these best describes you?

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See the rest of the questions … after the jump.


3. Why do you buy? (Pick answer that suits you best.)

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4. Do you feel the hobby is as fun as it should be?

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5. Is cost of new product a deterrent to your collecting fun?

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6. Will Ferrell on baseball cards … grade this concept.

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7. Do you enjoy non-traditional inclusions in your sports card packs?

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8. How did you react to this card then?

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9. And how do you react to the Rally Squirrel now?

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10. Should card companies have more fun with sets and include weird stuff?

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11. Has "fun" been pigeonholed to just kids sets?

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12. Should "fun" be pigeonholed to just kids sets?

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13. What's more important to you in a card set?

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14. Do you like mascot cards?

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15. Grade this card's coolness …

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16. Should card companies use more "fun" photos?

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17. Would you want a Taro Tsujimoto card?

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18. Is this 1990 Score baseball card cool?

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19. Can a memorabilia card get any cooler than this?

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20. Has anyone named "Fun" ever appeared on a card?

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Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Sports Card Monthly magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter @chrisolds2009.


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  1. Jonathan W. Iwanski 13 May, 2015 at 15:35

    Is it fun when Beckett lists 734 different Kris Bryant cards and none of them are technically “rookie cards”?

    From Olds: By definition, which hasn’t changed in years, none of them are RCs.

  2. Patrick 13 May, 2015 at 15:49

    Question #13 could be a little deceptive. What’s more important to you in a card set? 1. Fun/enjoyment or 2. Value
    Don’t get me wrong I love pulling any Red Sox auto’s from a box but to pull a Trout or Bryant auto is just as fun if not more. However is it because of the value of their cards or because I enjoy watching them play. It’s a little of both but it’s mostly because of the value. I would take pulling a Trout auto over almost any Red Sox player any day. So I really think value is part of the fun and enjoyment of collecting.

  3. Steven Webster 13 May, 2015 at 17:43

    My main problem with collecting today is all of the high end small number of cards (boxes) that seem to be the trend now. Sure, most of the cards are great, but a lot us can’t afford to buy them. My fun is in breaking packs, with the chance of getting a great hit. Now, most of the hits are reserved for the boxes I cannot afford.
    I am a COLLECTOR, not a speculator or ebay turnover person. I seems to me that card companies are catering to those who are in for a buck; not collectors like me. I have over 100,000 cards, but if things continue the way they are now, I don’t know how much longer I will last in the hobby.

  4. Richard Deien 13 May, 2015 at 20:01

    I think it’s time to turn back the clock. Autographs and relics have got out of hand. Give some classic inserts with originality and some insane odds. And please scale down the numbers of autographs produced per set.

  5. Michael Gardner 13 May, 2015 at 22:10

    The multifaceted nature of the hobby is what I love most. I can purchase vintage cards of my favorite Hall of Famers and it is for fun and an investment, or I can purchase more inexpensive cards of my current favorite players mainly for fun. There are those who enjoy Topps Opening Day and those who enjoy Five Star. But the beauty of the hobby is that we have both kinds of products and lots in between.

  6. joe 13 May, 2015 at 22:40

    Question 1 is the hobby fun. Answer, how could it be when the prices of products is so high. This hobby at this point is all about the money. $500-$1000 for a pack is crazy.
    Question 15 regarding that mascot card. That would be cool except for the fact that something like that is considered a hit. Give me a break. If I got a box and that was my hit I would be pissed.
    This is my opinion.

    From mod: Nope, the mascot card isn’t a hit. It wasn’t even put into packs.

  7. Cody 14 May, 2015 at 14:53

    I think cool inserts should come back. Inserts where some time was spent on the quality and when u pull it you say WHOA! Fleer retro was a nice one for that…I’d rather have a cool insert than a one color jersey of a semi star

  8. David Johnson 14 May, 2015 at 16:05

    Fun pictures like the ones from Stadium Club and Studio add a lot of fun to opening packs. Also there isn’t anything more fun than really tough inserts that look cool, but don’t include any memorabilia or autograph. I am talking about case hits or rarer in low end products that look cool (think about early 90s Donruss Elite cards and the fun that drove to opening packs). I would love to see something like Triple Play (which made a comeback) do an insert set of super rare cards with 1:1000 pack odds. These style inserts would be nearly impossible for pack searchers to find and would help generate more interest in the lower end packs.

  9. Mike Christen 14 May, 2015 at 17:16

    I think the hobby is still fun! I’m getting a little annoyed at all the panini cards without the MLB license to use team logos. Kirby Puckett just doesn’t look the same…….I think the online case breaks are fun, but still rare to get a nice hit. No matter what I want to buy, their is expensive rare parallels or less expensive base cards. I just love baseball cards.

  10. Lucas 14 May, 2015 at 18:45

    The main problem is the monopoly that is Topps…

    Too high on themselves as a company.

    From Olds: Except it’s not a monopoly …

  11. Jonathan W. Iwanski 15 May, 2015 at 10:13

    Chris, you proved my point with the RC comment. Thank you!

    “Rookie Card” doesn’t mean what people logically assume. How many do you think Topps and its subsidiaries will produce?

  12. John 15 May, 2015 at 12:03

    I agree with many of the comments here – the hobby is fun but it is getting too expensive. As a collector, I’d like value when busting packs and especially boxes. I collector for fun, but if I don’t get my money’s worth from a box then I would be gun shy about future purchases of that product. My biggest peeve is parallel cards. Ten different versions of the same card is ridiculous. A limited parallel and a one of one would be fine, but why number cards out of 1, 10, 49, 99, 199, 299, 399, and 999? ‘d rather have different photo variations – it’s like getting another card of my favorite player! Also, why pack in so many auto’s and memorabilia cards of undrafted talent? I’d rather get a hit of a superstar at higher odds.

  13. Dan 15 May, 2015 at 18:03

    The hobby has passed me by, and I can’t think of a way to improve it. There’s no real challenge in finding something anymore thanks to eBay; the only challenge is having enough disposable income to buy what you want. There are no more iconic cards; the last one I can think of is the ’89 UD Griffey. The only packs I buy any more are Archives and Heritage because of the nostalgia factor, and even with those I feel like there are simple things that Topps could do to make those sets better w/o raising the price point. My kids are two years old now, and I don’t think that I’ll introduce either of them to the hobby – which is really very sad to me.

  14. Robert Braxton 16 May, 2015 at 14:00

    @Jonathan W. Iwanski,
    The term ‘rookie card’ (in my mind) does and appropriately refers to the actual year, in the actual sport, that is actually really played, for real. I.e. if there ain’t no stats from your 1st year in the (top level of the) pros, then it how can it be your ‘rookie card’? A: It can’t.

    I could be wrong, but I think that’s why the term ‘1st card’ was created/invented.

  15. Robert Braxton 16 May, 2015 at 14:06

    Topps = “fun” (a little too much at times, if you ask me)
    Bowman = not-so-much (i.e. MOSTLY people who have no affinity for the sport or tradition, just value and resale value … yawwwn; sad)

    Chris, … define “kids sets” for me (please).

  16. Nate 16 May, 2015 at 21:06

    I think the hobby is fun, but it’s fun buying a box of 1993 Topps Series 1 with the opportunity to pull a Derek Jeter RC and not have to wonder which parralel you’re going to get and if there will be any value with it. In my opinion I like the way Topps did the 1993 year. Derek Jeter had one true RC ($20), but you have the possibility to pull a Gold card or Rockies and Marlins card. Do that in 2016, you have one true RC. You can do the parallel with a gold card and number it to 200. That’s it. The “special” cards with auto’s or jersey patches do with your veterans or all star players from the previous year. It makes it fun, special and gives the actual RC some value. Plus it highlights the veterans. The so called base RC now are $2.00 which is what late 80’s and early 90’s RC’s were, but that was due to over manufacturing. Keep it simple, clean and it will be less complicated. That way if a fan goes and has a RC autographed, it’s more special and more valuable.

  17. Clayt 18 May, 2015 at 18:45

    I think there are really only 2 “fun” sets right now: Donruss and all of their stylish inserts and Allen & Ginter with all of their strange but fun cards. 2015 Donruss has to be the most FUN set to hit the market in 20 years…

  18. CJ 18 May, 2015 at 20:26

    Cards and the hobby will be fun and cool again when people won’t be required to sell cards in order to participate. But this is exactly what manufacturers want… isn’t it?

  19. carlos 21 May, 2015 at 01:51

    I have collected since I was a kid. I stopped for a while but just now recently got back into it. I totally forgot how much fun it was! I missed out on so much in ten years! The excitement of getting a card that is hot in the market is a blast! Its such a gamble when u buy hobby boxes and packs but it pays off when u get that awesome card u have been hoping for! Even when I get a box where the hits are not really worth much, its such an awesome feeling to open the packs not knowing what u could get! In all, the hobby is fun know matter if your organizing, putting cards in top loaders or opening packs. This is one hobby that’s gonna be around for years to come!

  20. DrMitchJ 21 May, 2015 at 06:12

    Fun vs. Value?
    I didn’t totally understand the question when i answered it. I agree with most about this topic. I want the card product to be Fun, but I want good Value in the product. I didn’t take the answer to mean Resale Value, but Value should be a good price point and a good product. IMO, if you spend $100 on a box of cards, you should get $80-$100 ‘worth’ of product … Again, I don’t mean resale value. I feel ‘cheated’ by Topps most of the time when I buy a pack of cards or a hobby box (with the exception of Opening Day, where the price point is so reasonable you always ‘get your money’s worth’ )
    Panini has been ‘giving back’ in abundance. For example, Their unlicensed Donruss retail packs for $5 have been a fun retail rip almost every time. Lots of fun, tons of inserts, variety like crazy, with a few cool relics peppered in and a rare auto to keep things interesting. (Worthy of Product of the Year, so far)
    I don’t expect a Bryant/Trout auto in every pack and in every box, but the actual base cards and inserts should have enough ‘cool’ to give adequate value to the product. .

  21. Chris 21 May, 2015 at 10:53

    Exclusive deals are necessary because the hobby market is too small and too tight to support multiple licensed manufacturers to a meaningful extent over a significant length of time – unless, perhaps, the TOTAL number of sets produced is very small (like 5-8).

    Sure, fun sets were produced when there were multiple licensed manufacturers, but the cost to manufacturers was too high to support over time. Just look at what’s happened to manufacturers over the past 15-20 years – back when the hobby was much stronger with many more collectors…most are gone and bankrupt.

    A single manufacturer is able to manipulate the hobby and market much more easily. It’s not like all the people who chat in hobby discussion boards and bid on auction items are all regular collectors LOL.

  22. Matthew Ingmire 22 May, 2015 at 11:17

    The only problem I have with today’s market is the high price on hobby boxes. I can see Under $50 a box but not this $75-$200 for one box.

  23. Scott 4 March, 2016 at 20:04

    I am and always have been a set collector. Inserts were fun when finding them for a reasonable price was not very difficult. Set builders were the largest market of baseball card collectors but the manufacturers pretty much destroyed any chance to complete sets, and a set isn’t really complete without the inserts (in my opinion, when limited inserts and parallels were added.

    I was fun to chase those insert cards to complete your set, but once 1/1 and 5/5 cards came out that became impossible. But the worse are the parallels.

    How can people and companies think that if you have the printer change a border color of the exact same card, it makes that card more valuable is beyond me. It didn’t cost the company a penny, not one single penny more to print that card. And then trying to find them afterward is impossible.

    If a company knows that most people collected sets, and they make chase cards or parallels to have them buy more boxes some would call that good business, but when you make those chase cards so rare you would need to spend $200,000 in order even to have a reasonable shot to collect most of them, then the company is just insulting their customers.

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