When I left the employ of Krause/F+W publications in May, 2006, I arranged to buy about a million sportscards that had accumulated in the company's warehouse.
These were mostly cards that had been sent to our sports collectors' periodicals (SCD, Tuff Stuff, Baseball Cards/Sports Cards, et al.) by the card companies for product reviews, cataloging, etc.
The vast majority of the cards were from the 1990s.
|Bubblegum can even be found
on a wrapper. Here's Chipper
Jones on a 1998 Score
One theme that I pursued was cards of players chewing bubblegum. Bubblegum and baseball cards have been linked since the 1920s. For many years the cards were ostensibly a ride-along product to induce children to choose one brand of gum over another at the candy store.
By the time I started collecting cards in the 1950s, the cards themselves had become the magnet for kids' pennies and nickels. Sometime in the 1990s, the gum largely disappeared from card packs.
Bubblegum, however, remains a staple in professional clubhouses and dugouts.
Another trend that developed in baseball cards by the mid-1990s was the proliferation of card companies, and the proliferation of card sets from each of them. At the peak of (over)production, there were at least 20,000 new baseball cards being produced each year.
Most of these cards used at least two, and sometimes three, photos on each player's card. This created unprecedented demand for player photos . . . portraits, candids and game-action.
So it's not surprising that there exists in the baseball card universe of the 1990s-2000s more than a few cards showing players blowing bubbles. In sorting through all those cards over the years, I came up with about 75 different cards. I generally limited this "collection" to card fronts. I could have added a couple of dozen more that have bubblegum photos on the backs.
I'll share some of my "bubblegum card" finds here.
|These are some of the largest bubbles I've seen on modern baseball
cards. I'm not sure Griffey's isn't actually a pink balloon.
|Here's a trifecta. Chipper is shown on the front of a 1996 Pinnacle
Christie Brinkley Collection insert card with a bubble, and both
the player and the photographer are blowing bubbles on the back.
|I don't know if bubblegum is a baseball staple in other countries,
but players like Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park picked up the
tradition quickly upon arriving in the U.S.
|Some players seem adept at multi-tasking -- blowing bubbles in the
midst of game action.