Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Cards for kids

I have read there was some concern about the way the baseball card hobby was going in the early to mid-90s. Cards were becoming more expensive and with inserts, parallels, relics and autographs, kids - the collectors of the future - were being priced out of the hobby. In an attempt to rectify this the major card companies launched sets designed for younger collectors. These never really took off that well, but they have left collectors with some quirky cards to hunt down.

Card Number 740: DonRuss Triple Play, 1994; #187


Tony looks almost like he is yelling or laughing in the photo. This card gets a bonus point for including the year in the set logo. I also like the effect of the see through 'cut out' letters.

It's a fairly boring cardback for a range aimed at kids, particularly compared to the Triple Play cards from 1992 and 1993. DonRuss had obviously decided that what kids really wanted was a massive stats box. 

Card Number 741: Upper Deck Fun Pack, 1994; #119

Not to be outdone by their competitors, Upper Deck also had their own range aimed at kids, selling packs of fun cards called Fun Pack!

"Ruh Roh!"

I would love to know what Tony has seen in that photo. A ghost in the outfield, perhaps? Maybe he's just feeling a bit dizzy, which is why he is surrounded by swirls.

Fun Pack cards lived up to their name with the cardback. Instead of a photo there's a little charicature of Tony. At this point he only had four batting titles, although he had come mighty close to five the previous season. He would collect his fifth title the year this set was released. 

Both card companies discontinued these sets after 1994. One theory I have seen is that kids felt these sets were condescending, and preferred to chase after the valuable insert cards in the regular sets. But these sets were also released just before the 90s baseball card bubble popped and the hobby went through a very difficult period of readjustment. Now they are relics of an era of desperate market differentiation when card companies tried as many different angles as possible to sell pictures of baseball stars to as many potential customers as possible.

Total: 741 cards


  1. I'd love to get my hands on a box of UD Fun Packs. Some of those subsets were pretty darn cool.

  2. I think what appeals to kids just depends on the age. A six or seven year old would probably prefer something more like Topps Kids, or Fun Pack, but a 10 or 12 year old would probably prefer Triple Play. At least in my experience with myself and my friends, stats-knowledge-information is a big draw for a card. One of the younger brothers of a friend of mine won't trade for cards that don't have stats.

  3. Back in the 93, when I was 15 years old, i ran a card shop out of a bait and tackle shop that was connected to a gas station. I git to sell my cards at no cost to me as long as I ran the register and sold the bait and tackle for the gas station owner. I had all sorts of new product on my shelves. This included Collector's Choice, Triple Play, and Fun Pack, all products designed around children. It was mostly adults that bought those products, the children were always wanting the more pricey packs in hopes for the inserts. So that is what I noticed in my time.
    As for the cards here I always had a thing for Fun Pack because they lived up to there name. Triple play was just another product in the growing plethora of products that were coming out during that time.