Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ballplayers on the other side of the camera

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.

As I sorted through these cards, a couple of themes caught my attention, and I thought it might be fun to see how many cards I could find that fit that theme. I limited my searching to baseball cards, though I imagine the same, or similar, themes could have been found among the football, basketball and hockey cards. 

One theme that I noticed was cards of players taking photographs or videos. Players are constantly being asked to pose for the team or MLB publicist, baseball card photographers, television or video crews and even fans along the rail. These cards show players on the other side of the camera; whether they're fiddling with the pros' long lenses, the TV camera or their own equipment.

By the mid-1990s the proliferation of card companies, and the proliferation of card sets from each of them, flooded collectors with new cards. 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. Today, with far fewer cards, the need for photos is nowhere near as acute, so photos such as these are seldom seen on cards from the late-1990s to date.

I came up with 40 cards that fit the theme; there are probably more. Putting together a collection like this proves that the card hobby can still be fun, and isn't exclusively the province of superstars, autographs, game-used inserts and 1/1s. 

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