Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Baseball Cards on Fire, Pt. 1

This past Shabbos, I was reading the letters to the editor in the Jewish Press, when I saw a letter defending a certain yeshiva's decision to make a bonfire of baseball cards. I don't remember exactly what this guy's argument was, but it certainly got me thinking.
When I was a kid, we had fun with our baseball cards. On the school bus, kids played all sorts of games with their baseball cards. But once we got to yeshiva, those cards would be nowhere in sight. After all, they'd get taken away by the rabbeim, who explained that these players were not role models, not people that yeshiva guys should look up to. (As an aside, eventually ABC-News came to my yeshiva to report on the popularity of gedolim cards. These days, this would NEVER happen. Today's kida aren't suppoed to know that Channel 7 exists!) I must say that I, too, got caught up in the hype. In fact, the '85 and '86 Topps cards of Bobby Meacham, my favorite Yankee of that era, are still prominently displayed on the door to my room.
These days, however, I believe that my rabbeim's (as well as the guy who recently torched a bunch of cards) arguments are moot. Here's why:

1) For better or (more likely) worse, the Jewish-Brooklyn culture is all about money. While in the '80's things like Toyota Corollas, bar glasses, one-bedroom bungalows and Pierre Csrdin ties were commonplace, these days many Jews wouldn't be caught dead with such things! (I think I know one guy in the E. 20's who's still got his bar glasses. I must say I respect the guy for not giving a darn.) These days, our lives are full of Acuras, summer homes, the most expensive fashions, etc. just to show we've got the dough. And don't think this fact has been ignored by kids. The shrinks are right about how kids are strongly influenced and affected by their environment. Therefore, when a kid today sees a baseball card, he's not thinking "oh wow, my hero, Barry Bonds!" Rather, he's thinking "how much can I get for this on eBay." Kids today would never play those silly games with those baseball cards. Instead, straight to the plastics they go!
If any kid today would show off his Enrique Wilson card (today's equivalent to Bobby Meacham), he'd be laughed at.
Because kids collect cards today for the money, gedolim cards are not gonna cut it. Rav Pam may have been a holy man, but his picture won't get you a whole lot of cash.


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