Starting in 2004, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette began to issue Little League pins. Between 2004 and 2015 they have made about (54) or (55) different pins in all. A few years ago they began to issue handy guides to their pins. They usually issue a new guide around the time of the Little League World Series. Inside each guide you’ll find highly detailed descriptions about every pin they’ve made. At around (50) pages long, its an excellent resource.
We live in an age where nothing isn’t faked or made up. Little League pins aren’t immune to any of that. Take a look at this pin for instance. It looks like a simple little Williamsport Sun-Gazette pin celebrating Venezuela winning the 1994 Little League World Series. The problem is that the Williamsport Sun-Gazette never made this pin. Its a knockoff made to look like they did. I’m not 100% sure when it was made. A good guess would be 1994, which would make it ten years older than any authentic Sun-Gazette pin.
Hot dogs and baseball cards. It doesn’t get much more American than that. All this set is missing is a big red, white, and blue bald eagle on it. Man. If this set had one of those, I bet it could run for President.
Wilson Franks probably isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think of cards. But in 1954, they issued one of the most popular food related products to date. The 1954 Wilson Franks set is very small. It consists of only (20) cards. I wouldn’t let the small size fool you though. If you want one that’s in nice condition, you’re going to spend a lot. When these cards surface, they usually aren’t in the best of shape. Most of the time the centering is way off. Plus, many of the cards have stains on them. The stains come from the way they were packaged. Wilson Franks didn’t take the time to package the cards separately. They simply packaged these cards right next to the hot dogs. That’s where the stains come from. There would be a lot more cards in better condition today if they would have issued them through a mail-in program. But I guess they didn’t want to go that route. What little kid wanted to wait for a card to come in the mail anyway? The thought that these would be worth anything someday never even crossed their minds.
Hall of Famers like Enos Slaughter, Bob Feller, and Roy Campanella round out this condition sensitive set. Cards of Ferris Fain, Stan Hack, and Ray Jablonski seem to be harder to find. The most notable card is that of Ted Williams. I’d have to say that my personal favorite thing about this issue is the hovering package of hot dogs. In a lot of cases the player seems to be looking at it.
Remember… you never want to have wiener stains on your cards.
We’re neck deep into the 2015 Little League World Series. Games are being played, merchandise is flying off the shelves, and pins are being handed out.
Its hard to believe the first time I went to the Little League World Series I never visited any of the corporate booths. Now its really the only reason I go. Sure its free to watch the games, but I can do that at home in the air conditioning. On Saturday morning I decided to make the annual trip up to South Williamsport to see what was going on.
Arriving early really helps to cut down on traffic. I arrived in South Williamsport around 10:00 a.m. and the first game didn’t start until 1:00 p.m. There was no traffic at all. Before heading over to Little League, I stopped at Reptiland. Reptiland is a zoo that you pass on the way to Williamsport. They have a Little League pin this year. Its a two piece pin. One part you get at Reptiland and the other you’ll find at the Little League Museum. In order to get one you have to fight a live gator… just kidding. After that it was on to Dunkin’ Donuts and Little League.
Most of the corporate booths didn’t open until 11:00 a.m. Some of these companies are making it more difficult to get pins every year. Companies like Lance, All, Bomb Pop, and Honda require people to fill out an endless amount of paperwork in order to get a bracelet which can make you eligible for a pin. I know companies like to collect data for marketing research, but I think in some cases its getting a little ridiculous. Luckily some of the people working for these companies will just hand you free pins if you ask without having to go through all the red tape.
After spending about three hours at Little League eating lunch and picking up as many pins as possible it was time to leave. As game time approached the crowd got much larger. This might have been the biggest crowd I’ve seen at Little League. Most likely because the Red Land team from York is playing in it. Lots of businesses in town have specially made Little League pins. On the way home I stopped by The Clothier and Genetti Hotel. You could probably spend all day everyday in Williamsport during the Little League World Series and not get every pin. There are just so many. Some are more difficult to obtain than others. ESPN and Oakley pins seem to be the most difficult to find. I ended up with twenty new pins for my collection. Just a few of them are duplicates. About half of them I got for free.