Game-used jersey cards have been a staple in the market since Upper Deck included a now iconic Ken Griffey Jr Jersey card in its 1997 release. Recently, there have been a few developments that have undermined this hobby staple. The fact that card companies were duped into buying questionable jerseys from dealers that seemed legit is the hypothetical elephant in the room in today’s card scene. Most know it happened: no one wants to talk about it. Addressing the issue might just cause a bubble to pop and devalue the card market as a whole–I see it a bit differently. This is a chance for a fresh start when it comes to game used cards.
Collectors need to feel connected to the products that they buy. This is the key to value in products and thus the key to selling boxes. They can’t feel connected to any thing if this is all they know about the jersey they just obtained. “The relics contained in this card are not from any specific season, game or event” text has to be upgraded. The simple solution is to be more specific about what the material in the card is from. This used to be something that got done on a regular basis as companies used to be proud of where they got their material. The cards would even have a picture of the jersey used to make the card–adding a level of security and more importantly a connection with the collector.
If a manufacturer uses a jersey that is a sub premium jersey, then so be it. Put exactly what the jersey is from on the back of the card. If it’s an old-timers jersey, then collectors will just have to accept that. It is much better this way than having collectors question every single card that comes out of a pack. This is one of the main reason why I love the All Star jersey cards in Triple Threads and Updates and Highlights. You know specifically what jersey was used in the card.
I don’t consider this request to be unreasonable. I know it’s expensive to maintain a program such as this, but it is also vital to the survival of this hobby niche. Have a staff member that is sort of a custodian of records position; it would be his job to maintain card back integrity and make sure that the jersey card information on the back matched up. You as a manufacturer know your situation better than I possibly could, but this is an issue that needs to be a priority. A major quality improvement is needed if collectors are going to continue to drop the fat stacks of cash on product that is required to keep this industry afloat. If you think I’m kidding, then read a message board. There are always threads up on the FCB boards and Blowout’s message board complaining about the questionable nature of memorabilia in cards.
The MLB properties monopoly is killing the baseball card industry. Eventually it will hurt everyone involved including the Topps Company who has the said monopoly. Interest is at a low point as products are perceived as being the same ole copy and paste as it has been in the past. The value of wax boxes has been propped up by a perception of scarcity, and that simply cannot hold out.
Having said that, the industry does not need to go back to where it was. It needs to learn a lesson from the days of three manufacturers doing 30 sets a year. A happy medium has to be established. It would be great if the properties association would come up with a limited license for a few products a year from a different company. I don’t think five Panini America products a year would hurt Topps’ bottom line. I do think it would go a LONG way to getting some excitement back in the industry. I know it would take a minor miracle for this to happen–as all sides would have to agree and it would have to make financial sense for all involved. Stranger things have indeed happened.