Examining How Companies are Starting to Replace Jersey Cards

Over the last five years, single color jersey cards have gone from the cards you are excited to get, to the cards that end up in your common bin. Its rare that a jersey swatch is worth anything these days, and I already know that some of companies are trying to find solutions to the lack of value they provide. Some of the other companies, like Panini are still including them ad nauseum in their products, and many collectors are getting fed up with paying 100 dollars for a box that has three crap jersey cards and a crap auto.

In 2007, Upper Deck took the first step by re-introducing Manufactured patches to put in their products. These cards, like the originals from earlier versions of Sweet Spot baseball, were non-autographed, non game used patches that depicted any number of things about the subject on the card. The problem was that they introduced them in higher end products that left collectors feeling slighted upon receiving them instead of another hit. Upper Deck had already introduced the signed manufactured letter in 2006 with SP Authentic, cards that were a huge hit due to originality and availablity, and the Manupatches in products like Premier baseball and football were just an extension of that.
In the years after, Topps and Panini both bought into the craze, offering their own versions, and thus making the manupatch a hobby inevitability. However, like with many hobby innovations, you either love them or HATE them. Personally, I think that when done well they can easily be a cool card to have. However, that isnt the issue anymore, as there are some companies like Topps and Upper Deck that are using non-autographed manupatches as a replacement solution for the downfall of jersey cards. This includes the manuletters from Upper Deck Icons and Sweet spot classic, and the influx used by Topps in recent products. In most cases, because the unsigned manuletters sell well due to player collectors trying to spell names, I can see why the companies use them as replacements for the single color jersey cards.
Topps has taken it to a cool level this year in 2010 Topps Baseball and its follow up sets. Topps has been using manupatches designed from the player’s sleeve and hat logo to add a cool element to their base set. Because they are case hits, collectors spend more money than normal to get them, something that cannot be said for the season highlight bat and jersey cards that usually infest the product. I actually just bought the Joe Mauer off eBay, because they used the sleeve patch that the Twins are using for the inagural Target Field campaign. I dont buy Mauer jersey cards, especially single color ones, but I wanted this one. I think that says something about what these cards bring to a product. In addition, they are cheap to make, and there is no limited supply of designs to use. If they made a commemorative one for him being MVP, I would buy that too. Here’s hoping they do similar things in football this year too.
So, this begs the question of whether or not there even is a solution to the shrinking value of jersey cards in general. I mean, even Patch cards have become invaluable due to the huge amount of them available. It used to be that they sold at a huge premium no matter the player, now they can sell for as little as a dollar for even semistars.
Id be interested to hear what all of you think.