In the river of trading card information that regularly flows across my desk, one release caught my attention and caused me to do a double-take. It wasn’t Bowman Chrome, Topps Heritage or some other issue that is already popular with collectors, but rather a brand new release from Parkside Collectibles, a boutique card company making its initial foray into the hobby. Parkside isn’t offering a new baseball, basketball or football set with a diverse parallel rainbow. In fact, Parkside isn’t offering a new baseball, basketball or football anything. They are testing the waters with lacrosse cards.
LACROSSE CARD HISTORY
Ask most collectors about lacrosse cards and their first reaction is typically, “Wow, do they even make lacrosse cards?” That is occasionally followed by, “Oh wait, aren’t there a couple in the Topps Allen & Ginter sets?”
The answer to both of those questions is, “yes,” but those are only recent issues. The first trading card depicting the sport of lacrosse was issued as part of a Huntley & Palmers multi-sport set in 1878. From that point on, lacrosse cards have been issued steadily, if not regularly. The C59, C60 and C61 tobacco sets are dedicated lacrosse sets that were released in the early 1900s. The sport has been represented in many multi-sport sets in countries all over the world and well into the 2000s. An additional point of interest is that lacrosse originated as a Native American activity. Cards related to the sport or “Indian stickball,” as it is sometimes called, can be found in the 1933 Indian Gum and 1949 Bowman Wild West sets, among others.
Lacrosse as a sport has enjoyed a boom in popularity in the last 20 years as youth teams and clubs have popped up all over the country. Collegiate lacrosse is followed passionately, albeit mainly by fans in the Eastern United States. As of 2019, there are three professional lacrosse leagues that feature the best players in the world. Major League Lacrosse (MLL) and the new Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) feature the outdoor or field game, while the National Lacrosse League (NLL) consists of the team playing indoor, or box lacrosse.
2019 PARKSIDE CARDS
The new Parkside issue uses 150 base cards and a handful of interesting inserts to represent players and teams of the MLL. Crisp action photography is accompanied by a lively design. The resulting card is very colorful and to my way of thinking, really attractive. Standard insert sets can be found in the form of on-card autographs and relics, but the similarities stop there. Full-bleed black and white images are used in the 18-card Borderless subset (reminiscent of 1953 Bowman B&W). Parkside also contracted with Gummy Arts, makers of popular hand-drawn trading cards, for a 10-card lacrosse insert. Disruptors, Fabled, Hyped, Image Variation, View Finder and Vintage insert sets round out the offering and can be found in varying degrees of difficulty. A checklist for the complete master set can be found at the Lacrosse Card Archive.
Another interesting thing that Parkside did with these lacrosse cards was an attempt to bring more fans to the game – literally. Inserted at the rate of roughly four-per-box are vouchers for free entry to the MLL game of your choice, good at games across the country. Pretty interesting marketing, I figure, and a neat way to promote the sport.
Oh, and kids should bring their trading cards to the game as players regularly sign autographs at the stadium. In fact, the unobstructed images of the Borderless insert set were designed specifically to give kids a nice card to be autographed. Really, Parkside went out of their way to produce cards that promote the game, and have elements that will be attractive to both children and adults. It’s a heck of an effort for their initial leap into the hobby.
Some collectors likely will find the idea of lacrosse cards an odd one, but speculators could do worse than picking up a few boxes of Parkside. A wildly-popular and fast-growing international sport, a first-run set, and high-quality cards printed in limited quantities that feature the stars of the game in both base and rare insert varieties… I’d say that lacrosse cards have some potential. At this rate, we’ll probably see sets popping up on the PSA Set Registry! The enterprising collector just has to submit a set request to make it happen!
So, who has a Mikie Schlosser Signature Series that they’re willing to trade me?