(EDITOR’S NOTE: Laura Fleming is the author of “My Shoebox,” a new children’s book dedicated to the joy of collecting sports cards. She shares her love for the hobby and the story behind the creation of the unique book.)
Sports card collecting is currently flourishing. It is also timeless.
In fact, on social media platforms, it has become known as simply #TheHobby.
Collecting sports cards is more than just a hobby, though. It is a community with a shared interest. It is also family. For generations, card collecting has brought families together in unique ways. There is a special magic that happens when families collect together. Time stands still as nostalgic pathways are paved out of cards and memories.
Take, for example, Father & Son Sports Card Connection, which, according to their website, was established on Sept. 21, 2016 by the father and son team of Alan and Matt Loshe. Sports cards have been a hobby and pastime for them and they have wonderful memories of opening packs, putting together sets and discussing player stats. They always dreamed of opening a card shop together and now, more than 20 years later, they are living that dream. The bond that sports cards have created between this father-son duo is obvious.
Or how about Eric (@wuchengclan on Twitter) and his son, who entered the hobby in 2017 because of his son's love for baseball and stars Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger. Eric says his favorite person in the hobby is his son, and they have had so much fun collecting and bonding over their love of baseball and baseball cards.
And then there is proud dad Cody Martin. Despite never collecting before, he just started collecting for his 2-year-old son, so they could share the hobby when he grows up.
The father of Rixe Family Cards collects for himself now, and for his son for when he’s old enough to collect with him. His adorable son even crafts personalized notes for those they send cards to.
Or Father and Son Sports Card Breaks on YouTube. Mike DAvirro and his 9-year-old son Joseph co-host The Sliders & Curveballs Podcast, learning sports one game at a time together. They started a sports card collecting club called the Connecticut Rip Club, which is made up of dads and their fourth-graders.
Dustin Wilson says his son is his favorite person in the hobby. He just loves baseball and doesn’t care that he only gets base cards out of packs. He’s in it because he loves the game. It’s refreshing to see that.
Great Lakes Breaks had a special mention of sharing the hobby with his grandfather.
Dom Reimers showed us all exactly why he collects cards.
Canseco Collector shared what it felt like to open a hobby box with his son for the first time.
And yes, there is room for girls in this hobby too, which, as a female, I especially appreciate seeing. Dad Scott Baxley captured this moment and shared it on Twitter for all of us to see.
Efforts to get kids into the hobby should not go unnoticed. Like the Kids’s Crate from Panini. Sports Card Investor and entrepreneur Geoff Wilson also is on a mission to make the hobby more accessible for kids and has recently started giving away Card Kids packs.
CardCollector2 Sports Cards even has a kids trade night in their shop. And if you have not already seen the efforts of Brody the Kid, be sure to check out all of the ways he works tirelessly to bring more kids into the hobby.
The hobby is at an inflection point, going digital as a means to reconnect with children. But I believe that stories also are a powerful means of making those connections, and that is what led me to write my first children’s book, My Shoebox. It is a nostalgic story that captures the joy of collecting sports cards and one that generations of card collectors, both male and female, can enjoy together.
My Shoebox takes all voices into account, highlighting both male and female athletes and consists of intentionally inclusive illustrations that never depict the gender or race of the characters in the story. Each child who reads it will be able to see themselves in the world of card collecting, capturing the inclusivity and diversity of the hobby.
Patlana on Twitter pre-ordered one of the first copies of my book and wrote, “Super excited to get this book for my one-month-old son and give it to him so we can enjoy collecting together.”
To me, that is what the hobby and my book is all about. These are the faces and the stories of the next generation of the hobby, one that I hope My Shoebox can help to nurture and grow.
Help spread the joy of collecting by sharing what is in your “shoebox.” We all have memories of our first shoeboxes that housed our first sports card collections. Unfortunately, my shoebox is long gone, but the memories are not. Below is the shoebox that holds my son's first collection and one of the inspirations behind My Shoebox.
Using the hashtag #MyShoebox, share pics, memories and stories of your shoeboxes or the shoeboxes that you have created for the ones you love to pass down the joy of collecting.
Don't have social media? Feel free to share pics and/or stories with us directly, by emailing them to: email@example.com.