This is a post I originally published in 2012 and revised a couple of times since then; I think about re-running it each year before Halloween, but usually I don’t remember it until November, when I say “Oh, crap, I should’ve run that Halloween post”.
Since around 2007 or 2008 we’ve given out baseball cards along with the candy at Halloween. It’s become a fun tradition, and I thought I’d share it with everybody just in case I can inspire someone else to spread the hobby a tiny little bit.
I can’t take credit for this idea; I originally got the idea from an article in Sports Collectors Digest years ago, and it pretty much covered the same things I’m going to show you here. I think I may have saved the article, but who knows where it is.
The general gist of this is that I take unwanted recent cards – often they’re doubles from busting packs, sometimes they’re cards from repacks – break them down into stacks of 20-30 cards each, put them into snack-size resealable plastic bags and put them in our Halloween bowl along with the usual candy.
We make sure that we tell the kids that they can take both cards and candy, because some of them are too quiet or polite to take more than one thing.
I have to say, this has worked out really well. The kids get excited about it, they enjoy getting something different, they get some pretty decent cards, and we’ve found that the kids do remember us from year to year.
…and I get unwanted cards out of the house and into more interested hands. Over the last six times we’ve done this, we gave out about 3800 cards.
Here’s how I go about making my homemade “repacks”…
Every time I get recent base cards and low-end inserts which I don’t want, I put them into a “Halloween box”, and in late October I go to this box to make my packs. Since I’ve been doing this for a while, i usually have “carryover” cards from previous years, but I always pull out the cards that are more than a few years old… Usually it’s 3 or 4 years old, but given how few 2021 cards I have this time around, I might push it a little farther back. The main thing I want to emphasize is that I’m not using this as a way to unleash 1988 Donruss cards on unsuspecting children.
My general objective in putting these together is to get something good in every pack, and to spread cards out evenly among packs, so that we don’t get one kid who gets a pack full of Marlins from 2019 Donruss while another kid gets a pack full of stars.
I like to think the selection of cards is pretty good… Nobody’s going to run home and sell their cards on eBay, but If you bought one of my packs at a dollar store, you wouldn’t be unhappy.
So, my first step is to sort the cards into stacks by set sets…
…this allows me to distribute the cards more evenly between packs. While I’m sorting cards into sets, I pull out the cards that I don’t think would interest the kids. This used to be managers and team cards, but now it’s mainly the ‘legendary players’ in sets like Topps Archives. Your average Trick-Or-Treater is not going to care about players from before their parents were born.
Another kind of card I pull out of the initial sort is the big names that any casual baseball fan is going to recognize… Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Shohei Ohtani, and so on. I pull these out so that I can make sure that each repack has at least one superstar.
Now that I’ve got all these stacks, I make a rough guess as to how many packs we’ll need – this year it’ll be 40 packs – and start dividing each stack of cards from a particular set into 40 smaller stacks. This is done so that cards from each year/brand (i.e. 2020 Topps, 2021 Heritage, etc.) are fairly equally distributed between packs.
After I’ve made 40 stacks of commons, I go back to those star players and evenly distribute them among the stacks.
Just to make sure I’m not inadvertently “Bipping” some 6 year old, I’ll quickly thumb through each stack, looking for excessive duplicates of particular players or teams. Here are the cards which was in one of my packs:
Next, I’ll take each stack, put the best cards on the top and bottom, and insert it into a snack-sized resealable bag, like so.
Team bags could also be used; I think about doing that each year but I never think ahead to buy new team bags and the ones I do have are generally well-used and often have something like “10 OPC WHA Cards – $5” written on them in Sharpie. At any rate, the snack bags work just fine.
Sometimes we get a kid who asks if we have any cards of a certain team, so I started keeping a handful of loose cards for the more popular teams where I live.
I’ll also sometimes make a pack or two of other sports, if I have the cards. I think this year I might have enough cards to make a couple of packs of football.
So, there you go… It’s a “win” for everybody… I get cards out of my house, I enjoy seeing the kids who get excited about it, and the kids get something fun along with the candy… and maybe, just maybe I’ll get someone interested in collecting cards.