As iconic as baseball cards have been since the early 50’s, there have been few feature movies or television shows which focused on the hobby many of us fell in love with as children and continue to enjoy today.
In April 2019, Jack of All Trades released to US audiences after several years in production. The documentary opens as writer, director, and star, Stu Stone returns to his mother’s home to help clean out some of his childhood belongings. A large box of baseball cards from the late 80’s is one of the first items uncovered, and inside he finds his long forgotten 1986 Donruss Jose Canseco Rated Rookie and 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. cards. His excitement builds as he connects the treasures he continues to uncover with the retail value of the cards when he last collected in the early 90’s.
Soon, he is presented with the reality which is all too familiar to many collectors who have recently returned to the hobby after a multi-decade hiatus. What had once been worth thousands of dollars was now worth about $50...Canadian.
This prompted a desire to explore what happened to the industry, and in doing so, necessitated revisiting his family’s painful history. Stu’s father Jack owned a chain of sports card shops in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) which the whole family helped staff. However, their involvement in the hobby ended in an instant when Jack unexpectedly left the business, and along with it, he left two decades worth of unanswered questions.
Stu searches for answers to the hobby’s collapse through interviews with Jose Canseco, Topps, Upper Deck, and other industry insiders, all of which start to fill in pieces to the puzzle. However, he ultimately realizes that the picture can’t be complete without answering the questions surrounding his father, and his abrupt exit.
As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but enjoy the experience. I learned from the interviews, and I felt nostalgic about the card collecting days of my childhood. Watching Stu process the emotions that come with family dynamics connected to a truth that many of us have experienced and continue to experience in our own ways.
In Jack of All Trades, the junk wax era combines with the exploration of family dynamics, and shows how for many, real life and cardboard are forever connected.
You can connect with Stu on Twitter @stustone, the film’s account @baseballcardDoc and you can purchase or rent it at iTunes, Amazon, and many other streaming outlets.