Whether it’s a trip to Cooperstown or a regional event, pin trading has become a staple of youth baseball tournaments. Teams show up with bags of these fun metal keepsakes and come home with memories that will last a lifetime. Trading fosters social skills and making new friends at a time when young people are isolated more and more online. It’s a way to provide a positive experience regardless of your team’s on-field results.
While trading with other teams is the fun part, buying those custom pins can be a daunting task for whichever parent gets assigned this task. With the help of AllStarTradingPins.com, makers of world-class baseball trading pins, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to ensure your team creates a fun pin while minimizing stress.
The #1 reason a team misses out on their baseball trading pins is because they waited too long to order. Manufacturing of custom pins can take over 3 weeks plus shipping, depending on the type you choose. And you’ll want to include a few days to review the design and changes you’d like with the pin company. We recommend ordering pins at least a month before the event to be on the safe side.
It’s a good idea to go into your journey for pins with a budget in mind. This sets a limit with the pin company, and they can come back with a quantity and design that meets it. Compare proposals between baseball trading pin companies and make your selection from there.
One advantage of going in with a set budget is you avoid last-minute hidden fees that some companies may tack on. Some less ethical companies may quote you one price but add shipping, taxes, or mold fees at the end. If you tell them upfront that you can’t spend over a certain amount, they must include those added costs in their proposal.
Trading pins predominantly come in 2 types: soft enamel and offset printed. Soft enamel pins are by far the most popular and sought-after baseball trading pins. They feature raised metal edges with recessed areas filled in with enamel paint. They have a look and feel of quality that most kids will be drawn to. We would recommend choosing this type if it’s available.
Offset printed pins take a design and are printed directly onto metal. They are then covered with an epoxy dome to protect the design. These pins are a little cheaper in cost compared to soft enamel, but don’t have the same quality look or feel. One advantage to offset printed pins is they can be produced faster if your team is working from a tight deadline.
You’d be surprised at how many teams sign off on pins that have errors on them. Perhaps it’s a player’s name misspelled or a number that isn’t correct. Before placing your order, be sure to look over every detail of the artwork provided by the pin company to ensure there are no surprises.
One thing you can do to help is let the company know if your team uses a professional team’s logo or color scheme. Art departments can Pantone color match precisely to that professional team. Since browsers and photo software vary and can show colors slightly differently, this is a great way to ensure your pin has the colors you want.
Showing up to a tournament with any old pin won’t do. Kids can spot something special and the teams that show up with the best pins get the best deals in trades. This is where finding a company that has a talented art team can make all the difference. And be sure to consult the kids about what they’d like to see on their pin.
Dana Luker, Art Director for All-Star Trading Pins, says, “Pin designs commonly include team logo, age group, home state, year, and the tournament or event where you will be trading. Some teams like to include names or numbers, but this information does not usually add to the trading appeal of the pin and can even hamper the design. The most sought-after pins are always unique, original designs. Upgrades like glitter, glow-in-the-dark enamel, and a spinner or dangler add-on add appeal. But the most important element is a design that stands out.”
During the tournament, you’ll hear stories of highly sought-after pins making the rounds. These pins often times require 3-4 pins as a return. There are even stories of cash offers of $20 or more for them. Needless to say, having a popular pin puts your kids in the drivers seat.
One common mistake teams make is assuming the more pins you bring, the more pins your kids will bring home. That’s not the case, though. Trades are not always 1 to 1, and a small, unoriginal pin might require multiples to get a valuable pin in return. You’re better off getting a smaller quantity of larger, original designs with a fun add-on than a higher quantity of small, cheap pins.
One way to separate your pins from the rest is to upgrade it with an add-on. Adding glitter or glow-in-the-dark enamel paint are affordable ways to give your pin design a little extra pizazz. But if you really want to stand out, adding moving parts like a spinner, slider, or dangler can dramatically increase the value. Some companies will even offer blinking lights, although that can drive up the cost a bit.
One of the new trends is bringing a “limited edition” or “alternative” trading pins to the tournament. These are typically done in smaller quantities to add to their special appeal.
The most affordable way of doing this is to use your main pin’s design and do a different colorway, which basically means swapping the colors of enamel or metal. An all-gold pin is a popular choice as it allows the manufacturer to use the same mold but change the color. That dramatically keeps down the cost.
Or your team can go all-in with a larger, special pin that features add-ons or other fun design elements. Kids will want to collect all the pins they can, and having a limited number available will add immensely to their trade value.
If your trip involves the whole family, some teams opt to create a “Sibling Pin” for brothers and sisters. These are typically smaller pins with a unique design that allows the whole family to enjoy the fun of pin trading.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Reputable baseball trading pin companies understand that this isn’t your specialty, and you will have questions. Make sure they know your deadline upfront and provide you with accurate quotes and expected ship dates. Some shadier companies will take your money even if they know they cannot deliver your pins on time, whereas some more trustworthy ones will guarantee an in-hand date.
Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.
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