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Friday, May 20, 2011

1993 Studio Heritage - A This Card Is Cool Feature

This Card Is Cool brings you the sets I find worth collecting. This is fourth in the series.
 The term "throwback" is used frequently these days to describe many new things in baseball and in our culture in general. It seems like half the card releases use some sort of "throwback" design, and "vintage" designs are seen everywhere in building, fashion, and print. In an age of unbelievable technological advances, we fight the future by clinging to our past. Why is that?

I had a discussion about this yesterday with my baby boomer uncle. As a kid, he bought cards with bubble gum in them, read comic books, and played with jacks. He doesn't have any of his old cards or comic books, and the jacks are long forgotten. While he didn't get back into cards - he is way too busy with his life for any kind of hobby, it seems - many from his generation did. The collectors of the 1950s and early 1960s had a resurgence in the 1980s. The hobby that taught them about statistics, teamwork, and organization stuck with them as their childhood pastime evolved into a business. Kids of the "golden age" that once scrounged for pennies and begged for nickels were now adults with hundreds of dollars in disposable income and plenty of time on the weekends to buy, sell, and trade the cardboard slices that reminded them of a simpler time. As more and more adults found time, money, and interest, the push to remember times when life seemed so much easier grows, as the initiative to preserve the real past continues to grow as well.
 The 1993 Studio Heritage set wasn't the first in the series. There were five series released between 1992 and 2005. But this one stands out as special, if only for some of the players you find in this set. The 1992 checklist seems to focus exclusively on established stars of the 1980s. Jose Canseco is on the 1992 list. Cal Ripken. Wade Boggs. But the 1993 set has some of the 1990s younger stars. Frank Thomas, Juan Gonzalez, Carlos Baerga.
What makes this set cool? Before throwback cards were cool, there was Studio Heritage. Sepia pictures of current players in old-school uniforms define this set. Juan Gonzalez is in a Senators jersey. Eric Karros is featured in a turn-of-the-century Brooklyn uniform, looking like he's ready to bash some heads in. George Brett is playing for the Athletics! Back then, the concept of a Turn Back The Clock game was still fairly novel, and there weren't a lot of pictures of athletes in their old jerseys. And at the cusp of a trading card revolution, where photography was expected to be full color, sharp and vibrant, with exciting action on every card, this set is a beautiful early homage to those simpler times.

And who can resist John Kruk and Juan Gonzalez sporting mullets?

My generation, the children of the baby boomers, aren't immune to the interest in throwback design. Pay attention to t-shirt designs, company logos, advertisements, etc. Shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken frequently reference 1980s and 1990s pop culture. Original working NES and Atari systems are collectibles.  Just look at the card blog universe. Many of us were collectors as children, took a break, and somehow wandered into the card store or that one aisle in Wal-Mart or Target. How many of us either searched through old dusty boxes or started fresh to put together the sets we remember from our younger years? It's a cycle.

Studio Heritage will return to this blog soon.

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