Hobby Musings: 2020’s lost baseball legends and hobby memories – 2020 has been a rough year for a number of reasons. From a baseball standpoint, it’s been tough with a shortened season and labor strife. It’s also been a saddening time with several members of the Hall of Fame passing away.
The recent death of Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson added to a year in which we’ve already lost Al Kaline, Tom Seaver and Lou Brock. As tributes poured in for all of these players, the hobby world also shared its own memories of the greats. That got me to thinking about my own hobby experiences with them.
I was born in 1985, so with the exception of the tail end of Tom Seaver’s career, I wasn’t even alive when any of them played. That being said, Seaver has always been a favorite of mine. Stemming from the discovery of his baseball card book in my elementary school library, I’ve always been a fan of him and his memorabilia. The fact that my fifth grade math teacher claimed to be a third cousin of his also added to the intrigue.
Out of the four of them, Seaver was the one I came closest to meeting. Attending a Mets-Pirates game years ago, he was in attendance as a broadcaster. Hoping, along with the rest of the crowd, to get his autograph, I had to settle for a wave and a smile from Tom Terrific as he walked away. Strange thing though, that wave meant more to me than any of the other autographs, including a rookie by the name of David Wright, I got that day.
Throughout the years, I have been fortunate enough to add a few Seaver autographs to my collection. The first was on a card from the 1992 Front Row Series. Elated to finally acquire his signature, it would become an amusingly bittersweet hobby memory for me. You see, getting his autograph, along with Rafael Palmeiro’s, cost me all my money and the chance to get a Roy Campanella autograph that the dealer also had for sale. That mistake would cost me significantly down the road when I finally bought Campanella’s autograph on the same card I had passed up.
Through Christmas gifts, I also received a signed baseball and 8×10 of Seaver. My last one though means the most to me. One my hobby goals over the years was to add a signed Seaver Mets jersey to my collection. Jerseys are one thing I don’t usually indulge in because of how much they typically cost to frame. With that being said, I knew I wanted one and had decided that no matter what, I would get one when I bought a house. Mind you, this was a firm goal of mine that I had shared with my wife and parents. My dad, God bless him, decided to completely surprise me one Christmas with a signed Seaver jersey that now hangs on the wall in my home.
Al “Mr. Tiger” Kaline also carries a few significant hobby memories for me. I came close to seeing him in person in 2011 at Tigers spring training. Holding an 8×10 I was hoping to get signed, I’m pretty sure I missed him at least three times over the course of the day. Needless to say, I didn’t come away with his autograph. Thankfully, Mr. Kaline, as he had on other occasions for me and countless others, signed through the mail for a very small fee, resulting in the eventual signed photo.
A specific Kaline card is also the first time I remember dropping relatively big money on a piece of sports memorabilia. I was around 14 at the time and on vacation. At a flea market, a dealer had a copy of his 2000 Topps Stadium Relics autograph card. That set was made up of cards that included an on-card autograph and a piece of stadium base. I don’t remember exactly how much I spent, but I know it was at least $100. Big money at the time, I remember being nervous about shelling out that much cash. I still have that card and can’t ever imagine giving it up.
Kaline’s 1954 Topps card is also one of the first vintage rookie cards I ever acquired. I had avoided graded vintage cards for a long time because of how expensive they could be. However, a good price on his rookie, along with a 1955 Topps Roberto Clemente at a National Sports Collectors Convention, set me on the path of a hobby journey I’m still taking today.
I’ve been fortunate enough to add a few Bob Gibson autographs to my collection over the years, as well as a single Lou Brock signature. My wife was also kind enough to gift me a Brock 1962 Topps rookie card a few years ago. It always feels a little funny to me to see Brock in a Cubs uniform as opposed to the Cardinals. Despite my repeated attempts to get a local shop owner to sell me his Gibson rookie card, I’ve yet to add it to my collection. Another hobby goal for another day I suppose.
Hobby Musings: 2020’s lost baseball legends and hobby memories – Image Gallery
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Hobby Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
- Hobby Musings: Catching up with All-Star pitcher Matt Capps - September 19, 2021
- Hobby Musings: Historic Autographs brings 1945 to trading cards in a big way - September 12, 2021
- Hobby Musings: A dive into Panini Legacy Football ahead of NFL season - September 8, 2021