Collecting Memories: The History of Pin Trading

The Hoth - Aug 26, 2019

Are you new to the world of youth league baseball or softball? Maybe you’re a player, or you've got a child starting one of these sports, or you're a fan or a coach.

One way to keep baseball memories alive is to collect and trade baseball trading pins. Pin trading is like extending a hand in friendship to your opposing team. It's also a fun way to remember the day you or your child made a great play. 

For many, trading pins bring back memories of hot summer days, fly balls, double plays, and grand slams  Do you want to know where the tradition of pin collecting and trading started? Read more to find out the history of this hobby.

When Did Pin Trading Start?

Today, collecting and trading Little League® and other youth league pins is just as popular as playing the game. But did you know it all began with the modern Olympic games?

In 1896, the pins were cardboard. Competitors and officials wore the badges for identification purposes. They weren’t really suitable for collecting.

Swedish athletes brought the precursor of today’s trading pins to the 1906 Games. The blue and yellow colors mirrored those of the Swedish flag. Soon, other nations followed suit.

As the Games grew in popularity, so did pin trading. With the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, the tradition of athletes living in the Olympic Village during the Games began. Pin trading soared with competitors, officials and spectators discovering the fun of international friendship.

As 1952 rolled around, 218 different pins were available at the Olympics. This took Olympic pin collecting to a new level.

In 1960, businesses entered the pin trading craze with the first corporate pins. Each year more people collected and traded pins. With the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, pin trading became official, with pin stations for trading and collecting.

Little League Baseball introduced its first official trading pins in 1983, and other youth leagues followed suit. Since then, baseball trading pins have become almost as big a part of the Little League World Series as the games themselves.

Get Started with Baseball Trading Pins

Many beginning collectors wonder where to trade the pins and which ones to get.

Youth league pins are just as popular with the baseball crowd as those collecting Olympic pins. You can find baseball pins everywhere. If you go to the Little League World Series, you'll see tents set up just to sell pins. You can even find them on Facebook groups with people trading them all the time.

The first thing to do is to figure out what you want to get out of pin trading. Do you want to collect them for fun or to find rare pins? Once you know what you want, you can start finding the pins you'd like to collect.

Varieties of Baseball Pins

When you start looking for pins, you'll see there are four different types to choose from.

  • Offset printed pins – These are durable pins with a printed design on vinyl that's attached to a metal base.
  • Soft enamel pins – These are the most common style of pins. They’re classically attractive and durable, making them great for beginners. And they’re easy to find.
  • Etched pins – These have the design photo etched into the pin. This style often features the most intricate designs.

Pin Options

Trading pins often feature options that make them unusual and fun. These include:

  • Slider pins – These are cool pins with a slot cut out of the middle. A slider pin fits into the slot and moves back and forth like a player running the bases.
  • Spinner pins – These eye-catching pins fit one pin into another. You can use your finger to spin the top pin, such as spinning baseballs, softballs or wheels.
  • Bobblehead pins – These pins feature a bobblehead attached on a spring. It moves in all directions.
  • Battery powered pins – These pins have flashing lights. The lights are usually the eyes of mascots.

When you choose your pins, go for bright colors, eye-catching designs, and limited editions. These are the most popular for trading and selling.

It might be hard to trade for vintage pins unless you have something comparable. If you do find one, you'll have to pay more for it because of its nostalgia and rarity.

Take a Look at Trade Shows

Trade shows and baseball pin conventions are brimming with sports trading pins. You can meet other sport pin enthusiasts, pin dealers and traders. You can even have your pin collection appraised while you're there.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced collector, trade shows have treasure troves of information and pins. You can spend all day finding just the pins you want, having fun trading and bartering.

Trade at Baseball Games

Any time you attend a youth league game, it’s an opportunity for baseball pin trading. Bring along your pins. Other collectors will have theirs with them. It's the perfect time to talk baseball pins and see who wants to trade.

When you go to the game, wear your pins on a vest or sash so other collectors know you're willing to trade. You might even inspire someone else to start a collection!

Play Ball!

Now is the time to get started collecting pins. When you're trading and watching the game, you get double the excitement. Watch your home team score while you score a few new pin collectibles.

Contact us if you'd like any help getting started with your baseball trading pins collection. We can answer all your questions and help you choose your pins.