Explaining The Craze

The Little League® fans/supporters are by far the most prolific consumers when it comes to pins. Pins are issued by leagues and/or districts as commemorative tokens of yearly events/tournaments. Pins are issued as recognition of achievement or position held in a league or district. They may also be used for tournament play for trading with other little leagues, districts, regions, and countries. Most trading occurs near the end of the Little League® season in late May to the end of August (dates vary by division).

The various Little Leagues® have their end of the season Tournament of Champions (TOC), a double elimination tournament, to decide who is the best team in the league. Participants in the league TOC may get a custom pin or stock pin to commemorate the event. After the TOC comes all-stars where the best players from each league are selected and will compete with the other all-stars from the leagues in their district. This group of all-stars representing their league can play together from June through August. Advancing from tournament to tournament starting with districts, sections, division/state, regional, and ultimately to the Little League Baseball® World Series. Along the way each player may receive tournament recognition pins for representing their league or district.

As part of the experience many of the various spectators, teams, umpires, and league or district officers have decided to design their own pin to represent either themselves, their state and/or the district to which they belong. Many pin trading participants are lifelong friends and Little League colleagues that look forward to meeting annually, exchange pins, and catching up with one another. Traders find a place to congregate, open their pin bags and being bartering for pins in each other’s collection that they want. Often participating teams are unprepared for the pin trading experience, but they adapt into becoming pin traders themselves and enjoy the experience as much as the seasoned pin traders.

Pin Trading is based on the old barter system with both parties assigning a value to each of their pins and making the judgment of whether or not they want to make the trade. However the cost that each trader paid to make their pin is hardly ever part of the conversation. Instead the value is based on how rare the pin is to find, the design of the pin, the size of the pin, the enhancements used in the design, and how unique the design pushes the limits of the pin industry (something that no one has seen before). To an extent pin traders are always trying to be innovative with new designs and have the most coveted pins for trading. Although Little League Baseball ends at the end of August, pin traders have begun already contemplating their designs for the next year.

The softball world percept of the pin is much like Little League®. It’s distributed at tournaments for participation and each team brings their own pin, usually in a pin bag or a towel, to trade with the other players prior to tournament play.

Softball is really into pin enhancements like the dangler, sliders, glitter, colored epoxy, and gemstones. They are not so much into large pins or 3D pins. However, unlike Little League®, the trading is done exclusively by the players and before tournament play begins.

The soccer world percept of the pin is mostly as a keep stake for participation in a tournament and is usually distributed to the coaches prior to the tournament. Usually the pins are about 1″ in size and incorporate the tournament logo. On some occasions pins are awarded in addition to a place medal or trophy.

The pin designs can get quite detailed but pin enhancements are rare given the size of the pins. The kids will attach the pins to their bags as badges of honor for the tournaments that they’ve participated or put them in a display case or other presentation along with their other awards. Soccer pins are not traded unlike Little League® or Softball, because they are meant to commemorate events.