vintage vs. modern – players

This is an ongoing series on the differences between collecting vintage and modern cards. The first installment covered opening packs. This installment discusses the players on the cards.

Both vintage and modern cards involve baseball players. Is there any difference? Yes! – and it’s huge.

Players on the most recent cards are active in the game. If you desired, you could buy a ticket and watch the players in a game this week, next month, or probably next year. You can follow their careers online and watch game highlights in ESPN. That is nice. It is a personal connection. Collectors feel closer to the game and the players. Collectors develop preferences for players for sometimes rational and other times stupid reasons. Those preferences then show up when collectors pull cards from packs or buy cards from sellers. Of course, knowing players can be good or bad. Players are people with their own problems. While they may perform great on the field and say all the right things to the camera only to act like a buffoon after hours. Regardless, today we have incredible access to athletes, and fans of the game seem to enjoy it.

The above paragraph also applies to collectors of cards from the 1990s all the way back into the 1970s and 1960s. Unless your name is Jamie Moyer, players from the 1980s and earlier are now out of the game. However, they are mostly still alive, and their stories are regularly recounted through the various media. Furthermore, many of today’s collectors were collectors back in the 1970s and earlier. They watched all those players first hand.

How about vintage collectors? (To clarify, I think of vintage as pre-WWII.) Players on vintage cards are long gone. Not only are they out of baseball. They are out of the land of the living, and their lives did not overlap with the lives today’s collectors. Still, people manage to become ardent followers of early players. Vintage collectors who tie in with a certain player often become historians/biographers. They glean scraps of information from old newspapers and go through box scores on retrosheet.org. It is certainly more work to follow the accomplishments of pre-WWII players, but many collectors manage to do it. I would even guess that they would not call it “work”.

So which is better? I’m sure everyone has a different preference, but I have to say that following modern players is better. Seeing a favorite player pitch or getting an autograph in person at a show is better than visiting a grave site.

Winner: Modern Cards (by a nose)

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3 responses to “vintage vs. modern – players

  1. I don’t collect actively collect vintage for the same reasons I don’t listen to records or watch old black-and-white films – I wasn’t around for the heyday, so I don’t “get” it. That said, I LOVE when my dad – who has gotten back in to collecting lately – passes along vintage ’60s Topps cards that he has doubles and triples of. It’s cool to see where baseball cards originated, an era where they were meant to be traded, flipped, and put in bike wheels and not under lock and key to protect future value.

  2. john bateman

    I think it is easier to collect vintage players as there are less cards

    • Great point. I’m more of a set collector, so the player specialist viewpoint is not really on my radar screen. I know some player collectors cannot stand the 1-of-1 cards.

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