by Robert “Umberto” Wiechmann
Oh Millennials, with your smartphones, social media, Google and all other forms of instant gratification. There was once was a simpler time with way cooler things than you have now. One of these things was baseball cards, and in particular wax packs by Topps with that rock hard pink gum attached to the last card in the pack. Before baseball cards were instantly placed in hermetically sealed containers to retain their future resale value, they were treasured commodities that were not only useful but played with as well. Baseball cards were at grocery store checkout aisles lined among the candy bars and gum. They were always my first choice when my Mom allowed me to “pick something”.
Opening a pack of baseball cards was so exciting because you never knew if you were going to get a coveted Reggie Jackson, Pete Rose, or anybody from my favorite team the Dodgers. Getting one of these cards was like hitting a homerun while you may get a pack of Ken Forsch, Steve Balboni or the ultimate zonk a checklist which was like striking out. Each pack was almost like an early form of gambling. These cards were also how you got to know the players. For instance, if you wanted to know how many homeruns Steve Garvey hit in 1977, you had to get his baseball card and find all their career stats on the back. Kids could trade lower value cards to other kids for higher value cards trying to acquire your favorite player. Baseball cards were almost our first currency and it was a skill to get what you wanted. Lets not forget biting into the rock hard gum with no flavor that we knew was awful but always attempted to chew it anyway.
With technology making it super easy to get any analytical stat that we never knew existed back then like WHIP and OPS and even who each player is dating with the click of a button, we’ve lost a certain personal appeal that a baseball card had. I know you millennials are thinking, “who cares about filling a shoe box with cards when my phone can tell me everything I need to know?” Well, you’re right, but baseball cards somehow gave you a connection to a player that the internet just can’t do. To put in terms millennials might understand, seeing your favorite player in a pack of cards was like getting a 100 likes on your Facebook post, and that is satisfaction you just don’t get everyday.