Why I Think MLB Is In Trouble
Why am I writing the above title with this seemingly average 1982 Detroit Tigers team? I was 9 years old in 1982 and growing up in suburban Detroit, the Tigers were my favorite team.
It is my opinion that sports fandom is something you acquire interest in at roughly the 7 - 12 year old range. I played baseball from the age of five until I graduated high school. I am still a big fan of MLB to this day. I think baseball cards were a huge reason for this. They allowed me to know every key player on every team. In 1982, there may have been about 20 Tiger games over the course of the season on local TV and then you had the NBC game of the week. Then, much as now, the Yankees were shown probably more than any other team on the nationally televised games. I didn't have access to very many National League games. But baseball cards allowed me to know every key player on every team in both leagues, allowing me to know who was on teams as remote as the Seattle Mariners, Oakland A's, and Houston Astros, teams I probably never saw play on TV. They gave me a picture of the players whose stats were shown in the newspaper every Sunday morning. They gave trivia and interesting stats about every player. Cards also taught me many other skills; such as reading, math, organization, and basic economics (saving money to buy cards, trading value of objects).
The NFL to a lesser extent also had an impact on me at that age for many of the same reasons as above...there were little league football teams, so I got to play, games were on TV every week, and of course there were cards. I have zero interest in the NBA and the NHL as an adult because I never played the games, had limited access to them on TV at an impressionable age, and most of all never had the cards.
I now have 3 children, my daughter now being the same age that I was in 1982. My son is 6. I also have an infant son. The older two have zero interest in collecting cards or professional sports in general. There may be an issue with price and how to acquire cards in 2010 that plays a part in all of this and the fact that my daughter is, well, a girl, but I think the bigger picture is how MLB is largely irrelevant to their generation. It is easy to blame the younger generation for being lazy and zombies of canned entertainment, but I find at least in my household this isn't true at all. Both of the older kids participate in sports and are quite good at them for their age. Not to sound like a bragging parent, but my son just finished 3rd in the state for his age in wrestling and my daughter was by far the leading scorer on her co-ed soccer team. They just don't consume sports the same way I did.
I've noticed since I started this blog that there is no one under the age of 35 (actually it may be under the age of 40, other than myself) with a blog regarding baseball cards. There seems to be a ton of blogs devoted to card sets and players and teams that all played from 1960s until the mid-80s. There is a lot of passion and love of the game in just about every blog I've come across. But, there is no one waxing nostalgic about the 1997 Upper Deck set, for example. Baseball cards in 1997 didn't have the same allure that they did in 1982. By then, the kids were priced out and cards weren't available in the candy aisle at the local supermarket, very much the same as in 2010. In my lifetime I have seen the popularity of baseball get passed by football and maybe even NASCAR.
I suspect that Generation Y or Millenials or whatever generation my children are called, are going to have much less interest in professional sports, especially baseball, than I ever did. I suspect the professional sports landscape is going to be much different in 2025 than it is now. I don't think the millennial generation cares as much about being a fan and are going to do greater things as a whole than Generation X.
If MLB was smart they would start marketing cards to the 6-12 year olds, and not jokey cartoonish cards, but real affordable cards and stop worrying about the collectors who want patches of jerseys and super rare cards. They may not have a choice in 20 years.
Anyway, onto the 1982 Detroit Tigers...and if you want to see more Detroit Tigers cards, check out Grand Cards.
As much as I surprised by this, I am giving this award to Larry Herndon. He led the team in runs, hits, RBIs and batting average. Honorable mention goes to Lance Parrish who led the team in home runs and Lou Whitaker who led the team in OBP.
It is either Jack Morris or Dan Petry. I am going with Dan Petry because although he didn't lead the team in wins, he led the team in winning percentage. He also led in ERA and was only 3 K's behind Jack Morris for the team lead.
Rookie Card of the Year
Not much to choose from, this era of the Tigers wasn't known for promoting rookies, which is why they were god awful in the 1990s. Rick Leach was a former quarterback for the University of Michigan. After having some success with Kirk Gibson, who was also college football player turned professional baseball player, the Tigers must've picked up Rick Leach for the similar reasons. I suspect the scouts for the Tigers at this time must've been looking for pure athletes, but can't find an example other than these two of players who played in other sports.
Most Interesting Non-Topps Card
I'll use the only other rookie card here. Marty Castillo was a back up catcher for the 1984 Tigers. After 1985 and having a career batting average of .190 up to that point, actually wanted to go to arbitration. Now that is some balls. Predictably, he was cut loose.