But during the 1990s the baseball collectibles hobby began to receive a fair amount of negative publicity. Card manufacturers overproduced their goods to the point where nothing seemed special. Investors, with no interest in collecting, entered the hobby. Nearly all of the speculators who invested heavily in newer baseball memorabilia took a bath. While the older card/memorabilia market remained strong, the influx of investors drove the price of decent condition collectibles beyond the price range of the average hobbyist.
In the autograph end of the hobby, the players rankled at the thought of collectors selling their signatures for profit. Many former and current players began to charge for autographs, only enhancing their reputations as greedy millionaires who cared little about their fans.
Collectors left the hobby in droves and card shops closed their doors as did several card manufacturers. With the sports collectibles hobby in such a dismal state, one would think it risky to publish a book entitled "The Total Baseball Catalog: Unique Baseball Stuff & How to Buy It."
Despite the subtitle Unique Stuff and How to Buy It, the book is not a how-to on purchasing sports collectibles. In fact, the chapter devoted to cards and collectibles makes up only 28 of the book's 384 pages. Editors David Pietrusza, Lloyd Johnson and Bob Carroll refer to the book as "a centralized source of information about a vast area of baseball -from backyard batting cages to fantasy camps to rotisserie leagues."
Think that the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is the only place to view baseball history? Guess again! In a chapter entitled "Finding Baseball's Treasures," the addresses of more than 70 halls of fame, museums and baseball archives are listed, including descriptions of their baseball collections. Also featured in the chapter is a listing of the gravesites of Hall of Famers.
If you've got a question about baseball that's not statistics related, then The Total Baseball Catalog probably has an answer. Want advice on starting up your own baseball newsletter? How about forming a fan club? Want recommendations for the ten best baseball movies? Looking for a job in baseball, but don't know where to start? Twenty chapters of fascinating information will provide the answers to these and a ton of other questions.
Sprinkled throughout the book are intriguing sidebars that greatly add to the reading pleasure. An example is an interesting piece on why "The Star-Spangled Banner" is played before all baseball games. A healthy supply of photos on a myriad of baseball subjects also helps to liven up the text.
Due to the fact that the book is a conglomeration of facts and information, the chapters can be read randomly at leisure. Being a collector and/or a fan is not inexpensive in today's world. The Total Baseball Catalog will help readers spend their discretionary income wisely and enjoy the National Pastime even more.