Yesterday I happened across a tidbit stating that one of the largest baseball card collections resides at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I’ve never been a card collector, so I suppose this might already be common knowledge and I’ve just been out of the loop. I did want to check it out all the same, so I poked around and discovered that the Met is in the process of cataloging the cards, all part of the Jefferson R. Burdick collection, online. You can find the collection here.
Just minutes of exploring has revealed some gems, such as this collection of cartooned baseball stars from 1943:
And these old school pennants from 1933.
And there are, of course, a myriad of traditional baseball cards:
I have to say, this is my type of card collection. A variety of cards, and yet virtual so that they don’t actually take up a bunch of physical space. Happy exploring!
I had never considered the possibility that the mighty, fabled Casey would have a baseball card, but Robert Harrison has managed to spin an entire tale about it. Seen as even more valuable than a card for either Mantle or Cobb, the Casey baseball card causes quite an uproar in this piece.
The outlook wasn’t great for
finding Casey’s card.
The dealers denied they had him
as I fought against the mob.
And then as Cooney was seen in mint
and Barrows appeared the same,
a sense of elation came to me in this baseball hobby game.
A cardshark got fed up and passed me in despair.
The rest clung to their hobby hopes
and prayed the Casey card was near;
They thought, by the Topps high numbers,
if we could only find his card,
we’ll pay any price even if it’s marred.
Then Flynn (Casey’s mate) was found in very good-
a crease along his neckline stretched into his wood.
So they all bid to possess that crazy players card
until all turned to silence when Mr. Mint
got the final nod.
After Flynn, they found Jimmy Blake,
a tobacco card mistake;
For Blake was frayed and ugly and had
scratches on him from head to toe,
and the collectors were not interested
for the price he fetched was very low.
Then from fifty baseball card collectors
there rose a mighty roar.
It echoed from every table, it bounced off the floor,
it was carried by the newsmen
and was heard outside the door,
for the Casey card, the rarest card
now everyone saw.
There was a full gloss in Casey’s picture
as he posed beside the plate
there were full white borders and a hawkish
look upon his face.
And from an old shoebox he was raised above the crowd.
This symbol of the hobby now had everyone aroused.
Ten thousand dollars was offered;
the smell of gum hung in the air.
Five thousand more, said another,
as he took up on this dare,
Then while the price was raising
beyond the hopes of hobby folk,
a disbelief filled the children’s minds;
for they thought this all was a joke.
For this gem-mint card was dropped
and fluttered everywhere;
the rarest of cards went flipping
and gave them all a scare.
And as the people scattered,
poor Casey turned up tales
and silence filled this card show
and ended all the sales.
From the dealers came a mumble
that roused up to a roar.
Then the auctioneer came over
and looked down on what they saw.
“Raise him! Raise him!” shouted
the newsmen from the back.
But no one would pick up Casey
as he lay by some wax packs.
Like some curse from the devil,
Casey’s origin was on display
and the owner’s face turned to horror
for there would be soon hell to pay;
so he signaled to a friend to sell
a Mantle rookie card,
but the words on Casey’s back would forever
leave him scarred.
“Reprint!” shouted everyone at once,
and the echo answered “Reprint!”
to all this now lonely bunch;
But baseball card collectors are not a discouraged race,
for now the plastic pages were turning
at a faster pace.
They passed up a Wagner and ignored
a perfect Cobb, just to find
again the mighty Casey card
The smiles soon vanished from the children’s lips
as they too joined in this game;
and I who viewed these mental flips
thought everyone there insane.
And now someone gave a TV pitch
in search of this cardboard gold,
asking everyone to even check their attics
as this story is being told.
Oh, somewhere Casey’s card is out there,
or so these dreamers think,
for they will stir up this hobby nation
until they find this missing link;
and somewhere I am laughing,
for I made up that baseball card,
and the refinding of poor Casey
will indeed be very hard.
Here’s another great song by The Baseball Project. I owned a few baseball cards as a kid, but not enough to really call it a collection — my parents would have viewed such a compilation as superfluous and wasteful. As an adult, I’m glad this was the case as the cards would probably have just been boxed away or thrown away when I left for school, but I can certainly appreciate the idea of a card collection.
Joe Morgan signed a one-year deal with the Giants on February 9, 1981 at the age of thirty-seven. He would go on to play the 1982 season with the Giants as well, winning the Silver Slugger award at second base for the National League.
I never imagined there would come a day when baseball meets ASMR, but then again, the universe does not wait for us to expect-hope-want something to happen before it decides to make it a reality. For anyone not familiar with the concept of ASMR, you can read more about it in this article I wrote a couple years ago on the topic. Very briefly, ASMR stands for “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response,” and it is a term used in reference to a reaction to stimuli that involves feelings of calm and a pleasurable tingling sensation. Some people experience the phenomenon, and others do not.
A simple YouTube search yields literally thousands of ASMR videos, and one of the more popular creators of such videos goes by the pseudonym “SOUNDsculptures,” in a poetically appropriate nod to what she strives to accomplish with each recording. A few days ago, SOUNDsculptures posted the video below, in which she slowly breaks open and flips through a box of 2014 Topps Triple Threads Baseball cards. Sound boring? For many people, it will be. But if you settle back to watch it with no other distractions, and you allow yourself to forget everything but the video itself, you just might find yourself lulled into a calm, trance-like state.
A good friend of mine shared this article from The Atlantic with me. As a kid, I once dabbled in the possibility of beginning a card collection — not just in baseball cards, but in football as well. The hobby never took off for me, however, and I’m sure my lack of interest was due to impatience and restlessness more than anything else. Nevertheless, in the quest to look at baseball as a whole, ignoring the role of baseball cards and their collectors would be a foolish move to make. In his article, Pinsker talks about the relationship between card collecting and capitalism, which is all-too-appropriate considering that Major League Baseball is one of the largest conglomerates in the United States.
A Cultural History of the Baseball Card, by Joe Pinsker