TV shows, movies, and comics from the 1980s and ’90s are saturated with scenes of kids swapping baseball cards. However, baseball cards aren’t the only baseball accessories and merch that fans collect.
Unless you’re a baseball lover, you might not know that baseball pins are just as valuable as cards. These days, children and adults alike participate in the collection and trading of baseball pins.
But how exactly did baseball trading pins get their start?
We’re here to tell you. Keep reading below to learn about the fascinating history of baseball trading pins!
The Birth of Sports-Centered Brand Marketing
The first baseball trading pins debuted as a marketing tool by a chewing gum manufacturer called American Pepsin Gum Company in 1896. These pins were simple—sepia images of baseball players, many of whom were Hall of Fame inductees.
The pins were relatively simple, but they were a novelty when they were first released. Nowadays, collectors consider them to be extremely rare and some of the most valuable pins on the trading market.
Baking up Baseball Trading Pins
A bakery is just about the last place you’d expect to offer baseball pins. However, that’s exactly what a local bakery in Rochester, New York did to drum up more business.
In the 1920s, they sold sets of four pins to customers, who could then grow their own collection or trade with friends. The pins, like the ones that preceded them in 1896, were of notable players.
The Evolution of Baseball Trading Pins
Trading baseball pins became a huge hobby, and many businesses took advantage of the excitement and created their own pins. You’d often see candy and cigarette brands creating pins of famous players, like Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson.
Even Quaker Oats joined in on the hype! They created the Babe Ruth Fan Club in 1934, where members could sign up and receive a set of pins.
This strategy worked well for food and beverage services, as much of the collecting at the time was done by children. They would want the pins a brand offered, which led to their parents purchasing the candy or snack.
The hobby of trading baseball pins didn’t slow down at all over the decades. However, it’s become an even more diverse and globally recognized act in recent years.
Much of the trading done these days occurs at the Little League World Series. Players bring pins promoting their own baseball team and swap them with their rival team’s own pins. It’s a fun way to create baseball traditions and promote a sense of camaraderie and respect between teams.
The Unique History of Baseball Pins
Baseball trading pins are both fun collector items and a reflection of baseball history overall. Their interesting origins make for a fun addition to baseball history, and it shows just how quickly a phenomenon can take over. So, the next time you’re searching for baseball gifts or merch, you might just stumble across a piece of history!
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