As collectors of baseball cards, we love finding a great card and adding it to our collection. Take Roger Maris’ 1962 Topps card.
Maris captured swinging his mighty bat during a World Series win. The exact moment of the bat is frozen in time and is echoed compositionally with the yellow box declaring what is happening. The wood grain design of the card echoes the wooden bat.
A beautiful card. I’d love to add it to my collection.
But what really is a baseball card collection in real life? A stack of cards? Perhaps the cards are in a binder. A binder that sits on a shelf.
There are two aspects to baseball card collecting.
A primal urge of many baseball card collectors is to accumulate things. The urge the gather and get more and more. Storing cards up in boxes. Hoarding. Amassing a collection, so you can say you have the biggest collection of Player X cards. The thrill of the hunt.
A second primal urge is sharing cards with others. Sharing a card with someone and saying, “wow, the design of this card with the photo is fantastic.” The social aspect of baseball card collecting. Opening packs with friends. Trading cards. Going to a show with your brother. Pointing out cards that you like. Sure, we can acquire cards along the way, because of our love for baseball cards. But that action of sharing is key.
This sharing makes me reconsider simply collecting baseball cards on pinterest, instead of the real card. Sounds crazy, right? Amass a collection of cards online, and you never have the real thing! True. But a collection online can faciliate sharing and commenting.
My brother Erik and I both share a baseball card pinterest board. We occasionally pin cool cards to the board. I like reading his comments on cards. Erik is the one who first pinned that Roger Maris card with the comment, “some nice lines on this card.” I replied, “Whoa. Yeah. Check out how the bat is parallel to the yellow box.”
This card is so nice that I immediately went to eBay to buy one. You can get one for about three to five bucks, including shipping. A good deal for an older card. But I opted to skip buying one. I already have the great interaction of reading and replying to my brother’s comment online. If I bought the card now, it would just sit in my desk drawer. Or maybe I might hang it up on my file cabinet by my computer. But if I hang up the card, there is no comment by my brother next to the card. You can’t see my response to my his comment on the file cabinet.
Posting cards online enables to have this sort of conversation archived, and always available to continue the conversation.
At some point Pinterest might go away. But the same could happen to my baseball cards. They could burn up in a fire. Or get tossed out to the garbage. We like to think, “oh no! I would never let that happen to my cards!” But it could. We think of the physical ink on cardboard as something permanent. But in the scheme of life, it’s temporary.
Which would you rather have? The cardboard hanging up on a file cabinet? Or a digital image where you can actively leave comments? I go back and forth between the two. For now I enjoy both.