Back in the mid 1990s, cards were not what they are today. Certified autograph cards were so incredibly rare that many collectors didn’t even consider them to be an option in their collecting habits. Then, as if with a strike of lightning, Upper Deck released it’s UD Game Jersey card in 1996, and everything changed. Since then, Jersey cards have gone from the rarest of the rare, to the crappiest part of many collector’s box breaks. It has gotten bad enough that many products have base cards that are now worth more than the jersey cards, a sad fact of the overabunance of the way these cards are created. Due to this fact, I will say something that I have said many times before, non-autographed jersey cards need to go.
Don’t get me wrong, there are always exceptions to this rule, but for the most part they are a part of this hobby that needs to be taken out of the equation – at least in terms of the “hits per box” part of it. I don’t want a product to go around claiming four hits per box, when only one of them is an autograph. Jersey cards are so worthless these days, mainly thanks to companies like Panini/DLP, that its not even worth mentioning in product solicitation. I DON’T CARE, and from what the sales numbers are showing, neither does anyone else.
Hell, even the patch cards don’t break 10 bucks these days, and that is a true testament to what is going on in the hobby today. Companies like Panini need to understand that you cant continue to create products the way they do, its not 2003 anymore. This goes even further into the debate over rookie relic content as well, because even the presence of “RC” in Beckett’s off base and stupid price guide cant help get more value for these cards on the secondary market. I have talked at length about the reason collectors are pissed these days, and product content is a big reason. No one likes opening a $100 box and getting $20 worth of cards, its human nature. Even though EVERY box cant have 100 bucks worth of stuff in it, EVERY box should have SOMETHING. When Panini, Topps and UD overload products with scrub autos and crap jerseys because the cost of big name autos and licensing has become a huge problem, that’s where a change needs to be made.
It is actually quite unfortunate that game used jerseys don’t carry more weight anymore. Its even more pathetic that a piece of something so close to the game we love has no value to people. It should have value, as just about every collector collects because they love the players on the cards themselves. Game used relics are the truest connection we have other than a signature. Yet, because of exploitation of a good idea, the stale scent of desperation has started to waft over many of the products that hit shelves. The pieces in the cards still matter, it’s the way they are created that has been a major factor in the demise of this concept.
Not every jersey card is worthless, but 99.9% of non-autographed jersey cards are. For every Jim Thorpe swatch card, or every Lou Gherig, there are 10,000 like the ones that are 2-3 of the box hits in 95% of Panini’s product calendar. Even their top product of the year, National Treasures employed THOUSANDS of horrifically designed jersey cards that carry little to no value. This is in a product that costs over $400 MSRP, completely inexcusable.
Bottom line is that there needs to be a shift or the ability to create good affordable products will disappear. Once this happens, it will be a short time before the industry dies. Although the hobby will always be around, the industry has a much more definite lifespan for this reason. The solution comes in the form of both product content, checklist and most importantly design, as poorly designed cards that opt for cost savings over quality damage everything that is built by good products. The phrase is “you have to spend money to make money,” but not everyone gets how deep this concept runs in the process. As long as a lazy approach reigns supreme in any company, the death certificate of the industry has another letter transcribed on it. How much longer until the whole document is filled out?
I don’t mean to be Chicken Little here, but we are getting to a point where a sky falling mentality is becoming commonplace over Beckett’s “ALL IS WELL, DAMMIT!!!” approach. Perception is reality in most industries, and I would say that perception and reality are slowly moving closer to each other.