Welcome To The Baseball Card Cyber Museum (est. 2007)
by Joe McAnally
Much like any museum (art, historical, science or natural -- cyber/virtual or otherwise), the purpose is to inform, educate, enlighten, entertain and inspire through the sharing of information, images and objects. Most of us will never own a Monet painting, but we are able to visit an art museum to see one. With many collectibles, the same is true - one may not wish to acquire every Topps card ever printed, but would like the chance to view as many as possible in a friendly environment. A brick-and-mortar baseball card museum, while a nice idea, wouldn't reach as many people as can be reached through the Internet - a cyber museum is the ideal alternative.
Through the cyber sharing of this personal collection of cards, The Baseball Card Cyber Museum hopes to avoid what is happening with the Burdick Collection - a 306,353 card collection donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, of which only a few hundred cards are on public display at any one time. The museum is more concerned about maintaining the condition and security of the collection - but at the expense of being able to share it with regular folk. That doesn't seem right. For more on this, google the "Burdick Collection".
We would also hope this project will encourage others to build their own virtual 'museums' - no matter what they collect - so that more people can enjoy the fruits of their efforts and love of collecting.
Most card collections have a particular focus, and as such, The Baseball Card Cyber Museum is focused on regular Topps Baseball cards issued in sets during the baseball season, and Traded/Updates/Highlights (or whatever Topps deems the term du jour) sets issued after the season has ended. Currently the museum collection is comprised of all Topps complete base sets from 1951 to the present day (Topps 1952, 1953 and 1954 are reprint sets). Almost 50,000 unique cards can be viewed, searched and "flipped" in the The Baseball Card Cyber Museum.
Throwback/tribute sets include the Topps Heritage 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 sets, and the Topps 2009 T-206 set.
For fans of historical baseball cards, the following 12 reprint sets are also included: 1909 T206 set of 524 cards (includes the famous Honus Wagner card); 1911 Turkey Red set of 100 cards; 1915 Cracker Jack set of 176 cards; 1933 Goudey set of 240 cards; 1934 Goudey set of 96 cards; 1939 Play Ball set of 161 cards; 1941 Play Ball set of 72 cards; 1950 Bowman set of 252 cards, 1951 Bowman set of 324 cards, 1952 Bowman set of 252 cards, 1953 Bowman Color set of 160 cards; 1953 Bowman B&W set of 64 cards (listed as an update set).
In the beginning we had an 8-year-old in 1969 with a 15 cent a week allowance who would occasionally go down a few blocks to the local convenience store to buy a few 5 cent packs of Topps baseball cards. 5 cents - 5 cards, can't get any simpler than that (although in the '50s they had penny packs). Later, a bunch of toy cowboys and Indians were traded for a neighbor's 1966 cards - and a collector was born.
Many adult collectors can share similar stories of buying their first cards as children. The simplicity and innocence of building a small collection at that age is in stark contrast to the modern day obsessions with card value, professional grading, edges, corners, inserts, rookie cards and price futures. These obsessions tend to suck the life blood out of the hobby; The Baseball Card Cyber Museum attempts, in its own small way, to pour some of that life blood back into it.
To accomplish this, The Baseball Card Cyber Museum does a couple of things. One is to focus on complete sets wherever possible, as opposed to individual cards (you've no doubt heard about the collector with over 2,200 unique Mark Grace cards - google 'Virtual Mark Grace Baseball Cards'). Another is to set aside and disregard (with the exception of a few articles on card condition) ever-changing card values. In addition, a game (Diamond Fantasy), is included as part of the museum, that allows you to 'play' with the cards as a general manager in a pseudo-draft environment. Try doing that with the cards at the Metropolitan Museum of Art!
The cards from this collection were neatly organized by year and card number into binders. Fine. That was a step up from the big blue tubs and boxes they used to be housed in. It's fun flipping through binder pages, but to view, say, a 1991 Ryne Sandberg or 1973 Willie Mays, could take a lot of flipping. Also, what if one wanted to see cards in alphabetical order? Or say, all the 1971 Expos? Or all the manager cards? Or every Vada Pinson card in the collection? Or even a random ten cards from the collection (a virtual 'pack' if you will). All these queries could be answered quite easily with a database of card scans. A look around at other virtual card museums on the Internet also found card images presented in a fixed order, usually without card backs. The decision was made to scan all the cards, front and back, and to make sure that the cards could be viewed in a number of creative and fun ways, to encourage browsing.
How many people have a copy of the "Topps Baseball Cards" book put out by Warner Books in 1992? You'd have to get an overpriced used copy now, as it is out of print, but it contained color card images from Topps cards from 1951 through 1990. The downsides? The images were kind of small; there were no card backs; the images are organized as if they were in a binder, by year and card number; the cards pictured only ran through 1991; and - it's out of print. Other than that it was a good book! Clearly a database which could be updated and searched would serve the public's needs a bit better - thus, the idea of The Baseball Card Cyber Museum was born and nurtured.
Each card was scanned, front and back, at 150 dpi, using a typical consumer grade scanner. Almost 100,000 scans were required to build the museum to the current level. Scanners are far from perfect (and all those charming old cards are not all the same size - who knew?), so the resultant scans frequently needed a bit of trimming for a clean look. For the eternally curious, even with keeping one eye on a baseball or hockey game, about 65 scans an hour were possible. Thus, about 1520+ man-hours were required just for image processing. Then, each card was cataloged by set, card number, name, sort name, team, card type, etc. into an SQL database.
The Baseball Card Cyber Museum is not a commercial site, it is free to browse and use the site.
No Google ad words, no Amazon book links, no EBay listings for goofy products - no silly ads, period. If you've ever clicked on any of those ads, you know you usually end up at a web site that falls somewhere between a complete waste of time and a total waste of time.
This is a baseball card museum. Some decorum please. You're welcome.
Due to bandwidth constraints, the lack of silly ads, and the free nature of the museum (and also to keep the search engines from ruining the site with their robots and incessant "site hammering"), access to the museum is granted to 200 visitors at any one time. Visitors are given a free user ID and password (think of it as your virtual access card), and each visitor is enabled access for one month (30 days), at which point they can sign up to renew access for another month - and so on.
Every museum has a gift shop. Except this one, since there's nothing for sale. Let's call it the exception that proves the rule.
This goes without saying, but we will state it anyway. All images and accompanying text on scanned cards are copyrighted by the respective companies that produced the sets. All articles and their accompanying text are copyrighted by their respective authors. No ownership of this information is held or implied by the author of this site. As former Topps Inc. shareholders, we can assure you that any commercial use of the images on this site will probably lead to some form of litigation.
The mission of the site is to inform, educate, enlighten, entertain and inspire through the sharing of information, images and objects; all programs, files, images, text and data on the site support this mission.
This site is current not affiliated with, nor supported by, Major League Baseball, the MLBPA, Topps Inc., nor any of the many fine baseball card organizations and associations around the globe.
It still takes good people and generous organizations to run a free site. Thanks to Google.com for affordable (nearly free) image hosting. Special thanks goes out to Dan McAvinchey at Guitar Nine Records for allowing The Baseball Card Cyber Museum web site to be hosted free of charge on his company's web server. There's a cropped, off-center, slightly gum-stained 1973 Tom Timmermann in your future bud, I can feel it!
Have A Visitor Pass (User/Password?)
Simply click here to enter the museum!
Request A One-Month (30 Day) Visitor Pass - Free!
Click here to request a free visitor pass to The Baseball Card Cyber Museum.
Get a pass!