I collected baseball cards in my youth and still have tens of thousands of them in my basement. I haven’t bought a single card, however, since the 1980s and you can count my purchases of other baseball memorabilia since that time on one hand. A lot of this has to do with growing up. If I have $50 burning a hole in my pocket these days — wait, since I have kids and bills and stuff I never have $50 burning a hole in my pocket, and that’s kind of the point. Another factor is that collecting became far less fun when I became aware of how big a business it was and how seriously so many adults took it. I love my bent-to-hell 1954 Al Kaline more than anything, and I frankly don’t need to hear some guy wearing a sweatsuit behind a folding table at a convention hall chastise me for mishandling it when I was ten and telling me that it’s now worthless.
But I think the final nail in the collecting coffin came when they started inserting little pieces of stuff — bats, jerseys, etc. — into card packs. While I am devout worshiper of the Cardboard Gods, the Gods I believe in aren’t into holy relics, mister. I feel compelled to read the backs of the cards and bask in the reflected glory, yes, but I draw the line at genuflecting before their gourds or shoes. Or dirt:
Like so many goods perceived by consumers as pricey, sales of sports memorabilia started slowing well before the rest of the economy. Still, one portion of the domestic sports/celebrity memorabilia market estimated at upward of $1 billion is expanding. Real estate values may have plummeted, but the market for what the industry earnestly terms “game-used dirt” is growing, as demand for higher priced photos and signed, game-used equipment has stalled. Now, some of the biggest memorabilia companies are cleaning up with dirt. While it is difficult to say how much game-used dirt is being sold, a recent Google search for “authenticated dirt” yielded more than 181,000 citations.
I don’t care how big a baseball fan you are. If you’re online looking to buy dirt that some famous guys walked and spit upon, you probably need to reevaluate your priorities.
(Thanks to Pete Toms for the link; sorry for the subscription only stuff, but the whole gist is in the blockquote)