"I thought this blog was about baseball cards," I hear you saying. That's the basic premise, but when it comes to baseball, I don't know a collector who doesn't have at least a few souvenirs. My souvenir collection probably started with my first baseball game ticket, but the first souvenirs I remember owning were some of the old Coke baseball bottle caps.
I'm not planning on showing all my baseball souvenirs here. I can show most of them on my regular blog - This Card Is Cool in a feature called This is NOT a Baseball Card - but every once in a while I find something that belongs here. You see, my Zoo list is based on the Beckett database, which includes some more frequently-traded valuable souvenirs. Yearbooks, programs, and ticket stubs are just a few of the oddball items found in the Zoo.
Scorecards have been an important part of baseball since, well, scores were first kept. They're fairly unique to baseball. Do fans at basketball, football, and hockey games keep stats during the game? Have you seen scorecards at the Daytona 500? The extension from that (which you find at most events, including concerts, plays, etc) is the program, and then the yearbook. Take a scorecard, surround it with biographical and statistical information about the players, add an article or two, and throw in a bunch of advertising, and you have a program or yearbook. The first yearbooks listed in the Beckett database date back to 1887! Programs have been around longer than that.
The first Yankees yearbook was issued in 1950. Through the 1950s and 1960s, they issued multiple versions and were issued by different publishers (Jay Publishing had a "competing" yearbook during that period). The 1966 season saw four versions of the yearbook published. Since 1968 things have settled down, and modern yearbooks don't really hold a premium.
My representative copy is a 1984 program, instead of a complete yearbook. I'll be looking for a replacement eventually. My yearbook/program goal is one per team/location (NY Giants and SF Giants count as two teams; Seattle Pilots and Seattle Mariners count as two teams), plus both LDSs, both LCSs, a World Series program and and an All-Star Game program.
Thoughts: In my mind, the cover is the most important part of a yearbook or program. Many of the older programs have interesting art, such as the 1963 yearbook above. While the 1984 program shows a legacy of greatness, it doesn't have the cartoonish joy of the '63 or the triumphant imagery of the '57. There is a card set that showcases the history of World Series programs, issued by Topps in 2004 (Fall Classic Covers). Due to the difficulty and cost of purchasing old World Series programs, this set is a great way to collect and display these works of art.