Being a sports card collector myself, I have always been drawn to Upper Deck, and some of their off-shoots for the creativity of their product. One set, called Allen & Ginter, was not your typical baseball card collection. Within packs, right alongside your favorite players, could be a card of anyone in history, or of a famous place. I have pulled cards of Tim Lincecum and David Crockett, Alex Rodriguez and the Alamo…the list is endless. I even have an over-sized card which I purchased separately that features the battle of Gettysburg, and includes pictures of George Meade and Robert E. Lee (2006 even had a “Stonewall” Jackson card in the set). This Allen & Ginter set always went the distance to ensure that they were unique. You could get a card with a typical piece of a player’s jersey, or maybe even a strand of hair from John F. Kennedy or a Wooly Mammoth—yes, you read that correctly. Then there was a piece of Marilyn Monroe’s dress, or the signature of Benjamin Franklin taken from a letter he had written, which was deemed unimportant enough to have it cut up (something that still slightly bothers me). I always admired them for this, because it was something you could not get anywhere else. Here, for a few dollars a pack, you could end up owning something that belongs in a museum, or something you could quickly sell online and make a small fortune. But now, with a recent Civil War addition to the items they offer, has Upper Deck finally gone too far?
Like Allen & Ginter, a newer subset from this company called Goodwin Champions, which like the former, attempts to recreate the look and feel of century-old baseball cards, the type you would get in a pack of cigarettes in the early 1900’s. They have decided to feature cards with Civil War memorabilia on them. My first though at seeing this mentioned? How awesome! There were pictures of buttons and small photographs of soldiers that are going to be in this set. Neat! Then there are redemption cards that could land you a piece of Confederate money. The best item? The hammer of a rifle used during the war, or the metal insignia that a solder placed on the front of his kepi. I was amazed…until I saw a picture of a flag. What are they going to do with this? Maybe award it in a drawing to a lucky winner? Nope, how about cut it up into a thousand tiny pieces? This is where they cross the line, because as they try to educate and allow people to have a chance to own something incredible, they are actually destroying it, and furthermore, desecrating it in the process. Their website notes how important the Civil War is, and how they are preserving history, but cutting up a 150+ year old flag that was actually flown in a battle is not the way to do it.
This article comes too late as the damage has already been done, but I imagine the anger will only soon begin from Civil War fanatics around the country, as Upper Deck has just destroyed something completely, which should have been left as a whole. Who thought this was a good idea, I wonder? Would it have not been better to have inserted a redemption card into a pack, with one lucky person being able to win the whole flag? The worst part is that a historian/professor was brought in to help with these items. This man obviously must not love or care about the Civil War and the memory of the men who fought in it too much if he happily lended his services without stepping away from the project out of protest—his involvement probably angers me more than the actual cutting of the flag, because part of being a historians is to, well, protect history.
So what can we do about it? For starters, maybe contacting Upper Deck to tell them that they made an enormous mistake, and to be more careful in the future when they acquire such important items. Once again, I have no problem with a card featuring a button or bullet or anything like that, so long as it remains intact and is not ripped apart for the sake of being able to sell more packs of cards and make easy money. What they have done here is nothing short of a disgrace, and I will definitely think twice before buying their product ever again, something I did quite often up until now.