I really wish I had an answer to the question that's been plaguing the cardboard industry for years- namely, How do we get kids interested in the hobby. Perhaps the answer lies in using examples from nature: planting, watering and harvesting. Let's do some gardening as we countdown to 2016 Topps...
I didn't buy much 2015 Topps baseball last year, so when I decided to get back into set building one of my first objectives was to grab a factory set from Target. The reason was simple: I had a coupon for $10 off any purchase over $45, a $25 debit card from when we signed up for Dish Network and then used our Red Card for the remaining balance- which saved me an additional 5%. (It also had to do with the fact that I didn't want to try to build it from scratch) I then planned on making my assets work for me even more; in this case, I planned on selling (or perhaps trading) the five rookie variations included in the factory set- one of which is the Kris Bryant variation.
My plans changed fairly quickly after the purchase, however.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed one night shortly thereafter, when I came upon a tweet by an acquaintance who is the Director of Athletic Communications at a local college and had spent a decade as the voice of the Boise Hawks (the second team that Kris Bryant played for during his 1st pro season). Mike had tweeted about the excitement his 8 year-old son had felt at seeing Kris Bryant on a box of trading cards. Knowing that I would see Mike in the near future, I decided to hold on to the card and give it to him to pass along to his son.
I didn't have to wait very long to break the news to Mike, as the very next day I received a call from him- he would be stopping by that morning to pick up some of the basketball programs that we had printed for the 'Yotes, and could I have them ready for him?
After saying our hello's, I explained to Mike that I had read his tweet and how I had got a kick out of it. I explained to him (more like a confession) that yes, I, a grown man, still collects baseball cards and that I had something for his son. Unfortunately, I didn't have the card with me, but told him that I would bring it to work and keep it in my desk until he came back by again. After shooting the breeze for a while, I got the feeling that his son (who had met Kris and had spent some time with him during his time in Boise) would be in seventh heaven.
Mike stopped back by a couple weeks later to pick up some more programs and I handed the above card to him. Heck, he seemed pretty excited- so there was no doubt the boy would be ecstatic.
Then Friday of last week Mike dropped in and told me of the moment when his son discovered the card. There was a trembling from the excitement and a hint of tears of joy that the boy just couldn't conceal. And it brought a grin to my face as I thought I had discovered at least one way of getting kids excited about baseball cards once again.
I didn't plant the seeds; no, there were already there. All I did was water them.