Beckett Almanac vs. BaseballCardPedia

Back in the day, I had an unfounded vendetta against Beckett Media. If you ask me why today, I don’t even remember or care to. Despite my beef with the company and one of its employees, one of my prized possessions in 2008 was my Beckett Almanac, which helped me come up with hundreds of articles for my site. Any time I was low on ideas, I would start flipping through pages to see if something would spark a memory and before I knew it, I was 500-words into an article. Upon my return to blogging earlier this month I ran out and bought myself the latest Beckett Almanac of Baseball Cards and Collectibles (19th edition, 2014).

To put it frankly, I was (and still am), five years removed from anything hobby related. I don’t know what’s new, what was new last year, or even what was new five years ago. I have so much catching up to do that it’s not even funny. I didn’t even know Albert Pujols made it to 500 home runs and Jim Thome, 600. The Beckett Almanac for me meant article ideas and a free pass to baseball card knowledge without having to tread through the murky waters of message boards as well as reading up on other card blogs’ archives when there are now 100s of them. I needed information and as quickly as possible.

On the other end of hobby spectrum, there is BaseballCardPedia, which was around when the original Wax Heaven shut down. At the time, Chris Harris of Stale Gum was making a big push for contributors and to spread the word but I was too short on time and whenever I needed information back then, 9 out of 10 times I’d just look to my trusty Beckett Almanac. In 2009, the site was still in its infancy and didn’t provide all the information I needed. That was my first and only impression it left on me then so I didn’t think it would serve a purpose in 2015, or so I thought.

Well, it’s been over two weeks and I have made two big discoveries: The first is that Beckett Almanac is a WONDERFUL tool for all things baseball cards but only if you do not have access to the Internet and/or you use Beckett Media’s pricing guide. The second is as a sports cards writer, there is no greater tool to have at your fingertips than BaseballCardPedia.

Below is my breakdown and review of both sites.

Presentation

This one belongs to Beckett Almanac. It’s going to be tough for an encyclopedia-type website to compare with print media in this department. What helps push Beckett over the top is the photograph of a card of each and every set listed, which is comprehensive and incredibly helpful. Weather or not BaseballCardPedia plans to use more images in the future remains to be seen but if its been over 5 years so my guess is that it’s not a top priority or there’s just enough staff to do everything.

Usability

This is where BaseballCardPedia takes the lead and never relinquishes it. For starters, I am not always on a desktop computer when inspiration strikes and many times information is needed ASAP no matter if I am in bed ready to sleep or in my car driving to work. It’s just not possible to carry the bulky Beckett Almanac on me at all times but you know what is easy to carry and is a must-have? My smart phone.

On occasions when I do have the Beckett Almanac on me, it still takes way too long to search for the specific card or set I am looking for. A Google Search or a direct search on BaseballCardPedia takes less than 3 seconds (I type fast). BaseballCardPedia takes the cake.

Price

This one is easy. The 2014 Beckett Almanac cost me $54 and change at Books A Million in Sarasota, FL. Add to the fact that it took me over an hour drive because I first went to two Barnes and Nobles book stores which did not carry it.

BaseballCardPedia is 100% free. Sure, you must have internet access but unless you’re some kind of freak who only pays for internet to use BaseballCardPedia, it’s hardly an expense at all. If you can’t afford Internet, you could always use the computer at work or even the library. Once again, FREE.

Examples

— — — 1993 Finest — — —

1. Beckett Almanac

Image sample – Yes (base card)

Complete checklist – Yes

Additional information – Yes (quick and to the point)

2. BaseballCardPedia

Image sample – Yes (boxed product)

Complete checklist – Yes

Additional information – 8 paragraphs worth of information

— — — 1986 Sportflics — — —

1. Beckett Almanac

Image sample – Yes (base card)

Complete checklist – Yes

Additional information – Yes (Detailed story on inaugural release)

2. BaseballCardPedia

Image sample – No

Complete checklist – Yes

Additional information – They practically wrote a book on this set

— — —

This one is too close to call. For 1993 Finest, a huge hobby breakthrough product, both publications had almost identical scores. The only difference being that BaseballCardPedia had additional information that Beckett Media did not have, probably due to spacing issues. For 1986 Sportflics, also a pretty big release for its time … Beckett Media and BaseballCardPedia were almost identical again. The only difference is that Beckett Media had a sample base card image, while BaseballCardPedia did not. As for the general information, Beckett Media had a surprisingly large write-up on the product but it didn’t compare with BaseballCardPedia. Again, this one is too close to call.

Overall

As I wrote earlier, the Beckett Almanac is a great tool for collectors who need information on card prices and sets and don’t have access to Internet and still use “book value” instead of real-time eBay prices. It’s 2015 and if you don’t have a smart phone with internet access, you are missing out. In 2009, BaseballCardPedia was not able to compete with Beckett Media but it’s 2015 and for me, it’s completely made my brand new Beckett Almanac obsolete. Not only do almost all sets include information such as odds, breakdowns, and checklists, many of them now have stories and perspectives from some of the hobby’s most respected members, such as Chris Harris and SruChris.

It’s clear that BaseballCardPedia is Chris Harris’ labor of love and five years after discovering the site it shows. As with anything non-profit, if you have some way to help the site grow, please click here.

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Categories: Beckett Media | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Beckett Almanac vs. BaseballCardPedia

  1. That’s a pretty good assessment. I’ve used Beckett’s online catalog for some searches (using a searchable database is very handy at times), but when I want real information quickly at my fingertips I’ve found online sources to be much more convenient.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to oddball sets, the (print) Almanac is frequently the only source with detail. The Trading Card Database (tradingcarddb.com) might actually be more detailed than BaseballCardPedia in this respect, as many more oddball sets are included. I haven’t really compared the additional comments for any given sets.

    As you noted, BaseballCardPedia was definitely promising in 2009. But despite the efforts I feel that by just focusing on mainstream issues they’re missing a crucial area of the hobby. For team and player collectors, those rare, frequently unknown oddballs can add spice and variety to a collection dominated by Topps these days. Not to mention type collectors.

    I recognize that the anecdotes can be as important as, or even more so than, a checklist. And certainly images are very helpful when identifying cards, especially for older sets. I don’t really have a preference for any given site, but I do hope that both continue to grow in detail and accuracy, and thus quality. With crowd sourcing, both sites have the ability to provide even a small base of information which can be built upon as more details are found.

  2. I would like to add that the BaseballCardPedia format, compared to TCDB, is much easier to skim quickly to learn about a release, as everything is on one page. I do wish they’d follow Wikipedia’s collapsible format, as going through several checklists to find one is a bit cumbersome. I’m not sure how hard it would be to update BBCP with a few more features found in WikiPedia…

  3. I have added a few checklists to the BaseballCardPedia (mostly the retail sets). The only problem I have with the site is the fact that while I truly believe that the site can be a great reference point…it does not need Chris’ spin when it comes to his pure hatred of gimmicks, and insert sets that he doesn’t like (multiple parallels, sets like the Bonds Home Run History for example). It’s one person’s opinion, and while of course there are people who will agree with it, it’s just that…OPINION. His opinions should be reserved for his blog (which he hasn’t updated in forever). But the BCP should remain unbiased.

    Personally, I like the Beckett’s almanacs. Even with the prices (it’s a GUIDE!!!), at least the checklists are complete.

    Neither side is completely accurate (there are always bound to be mistakes), but Beckett’s guides have had more history. The BCP needs a lot more hands on deck to even come close.

    Sincerely,

    JayBee Anama
    bdj610

  4. Mario:

    I’m not sure they have a virtual Almanac, per se, but all the cards that they have cataloged can be accessed on their website. If you want pricing, you have to pay for it.

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