Thursday, May 14, 2015

Random Acts of Cardness

This is 40,000 baseball cards. I've been struggling with a game plan for getting them out of my house. My wife wants me to throw them in the trash, but I refuse on principle. Recently it's become more of an issue, and it’s time to get serious. Publicly serious.

So over the next few months I’m going to give them all away... card at a time... random.

I’m not going to go around handing baseball cards to strangers - that’s just weird. This is going to be far more subtle. I plan on keeping a few hundred cards in the car at all times. From there, whenever we are out and about I will place cards one at a time in random openly-visible locations around the Earth, mostly in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. From there the card will go where the world takes it. People can take the card and keep it, toss it in the trash, or ignore it altogether.

Regardless of what happens to the card, it’s got to be more exciting than sitting in a pile with 39,999 other cards collecting dust in my garage.

I don't want to simply throw cards at the general public. I want folks to feel like they found something special. To this point I’m making use of my trusty custom-made Mariners logo stamp to mark (um, ruin) every card. I’ll also be initialing each card back on either side of the stamp with “JJ” as I've done with so many trade packages before. But that’s not all.

To add a sliver of mystery and uniqueness to the whole project, I will also be numbering every card I send out into the world from 1 to Infinity. There is no real order to the cards - I simply grab stacks from the gigantic pile of junk (I've come across a few HOFers in there, too) and start defacing the backs, numbering as I go. Which cards get which numbers is totally random (or “totes rando” as the kids say). The owner of card #1 is going to feel pretty special if this thing gets up into the thousands, and as hard-headed as I am I can’t imagine why it wouldn't.

I also want this to be somewhat interactive for the finder, so I've created a hashtag, #RandomActsOfCardness. I've printed up a bunch of stickers (at work - shhhh....) with that hashtag and started sticking them on the card backs so people can tweet their finds. This is either clever and fun or pathetically nerdy.

The finished product, ready to be found.

How will I find the time to stamp, initial, number, and sticker all these cards? We have a movie night with friends once a week. This past week it was “The Babadook,” and while watching the film I prepped a whopping 200 cards in less than 30 minutes. These cards are in my car now, ready to be distributed to fun and interesting locations around the city for people to find. I have a few ideas of where to leave them, but I have a funny feeling many are going to end up in various New Orleans dive bar restrooms.

The first 200 - I'm keeping card #1 a secret for now

We are attending a birthday celebration this week at a popular bar uptown, and I will be distributing the first 20 or so cards into circulation there one at a time in random spots. I'll also be monitoring the Twitter feed to see if anyone actually reads the sticker.

I’m curious what the sudden influx of cardboard into the public sphere will do. Will some folks start collecting? Will I get a littering fine? Will people think it a nuisance or an art project? An act of generosity or cardboard terrorism? Time will tell.


  1. One thing's for sure, you put a lot of thoughts into your projects ! THis is a very, very cool idea. This is actually how I, myself, got hooked without knowing it : I found a baseball card on the street while in the US, in 89, and I've had it ever since. And I couldn't even tweet about it

  2. Local pawn shops are going to be busy with these rare cards!

  3. If you can get even one or two more people into the hobby or back into the hobby, then it will be worth it.

    That, or sending the boxes to your local recycling company. :-)

  4. This is super cool! if you want to send me a few that a pre-stamped, I'll gladly drop them around NYC. Make this thing go coast to coast.

  5. This idea is awesome! But... man oh man... this is some project. Stamping & numbering 40,000 cards should keep you busy.

  6. Can you share your sticker template with us - I think it might be a fun thing to do with my own cards here in NY.

  7. I used to give out my extras at Halloween. But this is way cooler.

  8. This is a great idea and I'm very interested to see where this project goes!

  9. Yeah, neat idea! More people should get in on this and everybody should have their own logo and numbering for the cards they set out into the world.

  10. I used to do "Where's George" quite a bit, and was lucky to get a 5% response rate on dollars I sent out "into the wild." If you can get anywhere close to that, this project will be a huge success!