Klein’s Korner: Building a Baseball Card Hall of Fame – Before we get to the meat of this month’s column I just want to state how much fun I had meeting the fine folks at GTS at the 2018 Industry Summit. You will see my photo with the GTS banner which they taught me how to put together. In addition, there is at least one member of their staff who I met on a Beckett show trip back in, ahem, 1993 or 1994. He remembered the analyst who came and visited his store and we had a good time remembering those days,
While I’m writing this, the promised 2018 Heritage box (at a very reasonable price) from Mike Fruitman has arrived and was opened. No I did not get a Shohei Ohtani but I had a ton of fun and could imagine I was 8/9 years old again. How Mike does everything he does as a retailer is something I want to learn. It was great meeting him and so many new and old friends at the Industry Summit. A quick plug, and I understand from the Adat show I run, how Bill Sutherland and Ray Schulte put together such a nice program on short notice is something which needs to be congratulated.
Now, imagine you are the Hall of Fame and someone comes to you and says: You have some amazing cards to display in house including a T-206 Wagner, a big room to do that and you can design what to do. What are some of the steps you take?
The first step is the remodeling of the room. No remodeling ever came free and the HOF has to raise some money via sponsorships to do that. One of the goals of this room is to have as many collectors and industry participants assist in this whole project. How do you appeal to having them help you before one item is actually displayed. As I have learned from my synagogue working on building a new building, we have a ton of people saying they will join when we have our own building but they won’t join or assist until we have a new building. So, speaking from experience what would you do to help convince potential sponsors of the room to be the first one involved in such a venture.
Since we are only doing suppositions, here are a few I would think of. You might have others and please free to let me know via the email route. Bruce Markusen (who has graciously sent us donations for our Adat show in the past) writes a terrific card column each week. Right now the column is just part of the HOF newsletter. Would you want to see some ads included in that column with the money being applied towards the remodeling and/or seeing what cards might still be needed? Would you ask current employees who might know collectors, dealers, industry people or even sponsors to reach out to check to see if they will assist?
Then, what would you put in the room? How many cards would you display? Tell me what subjects you would want to have detailed exhibits about. Here are some examples I could use: Why is 1910 the key year in the Tobacco card era? Note: I actually gave a talk on this at the very first SABR deadball conference in 2002. The funny part was two weeks before the conference I was informed that each of us attending (there were seven) had to give a presentation. Since I was working on the Beckett Almanac at that time and during that period I barely had time to breathe, no way I could do any real research. Therefore, my presentation was asking one question and then listening to six or seven people who knew more than I did get into a spirited discussion about why 1910 was the key year for tobacco cards.
Other subjects could include the Topps/Bowman card wars of the early 1950’s. With all the research material available, some really cool written material could be included. In addition, the players of that era are getting older and we all should get down their oral histories while they are still around. We could display all the different type of products cards have been involved with. From the obvious such as tobacco and gum to those you forget about such as dog food or fast food, there are tons of interesting tie-ins with cards.
How about a talk on the over-production years. The 1980’s and 90’s are current enough where the fathers who remember this can come and visit with their sons and bond over what they did and what today’s collectors have different. I’m sure there are plenty of other subjects and you know the best part of this discussion. Everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion is correct. That also includes what cards one would display: How many cards would you display and what cards would you use? Frankly, other than a few cards such as a T-206 Wagner, 52 Topps Mantle; 2011 Topps Update Mike Trout (for the younger kids), what cards would you show?
Since we are doing this as a thought piece and nothing is official other than our personal imagination and vision, what else would you do to ensure this room becomes a reality? Your mission if you choose to accept it is: Today you have become the president of the Hall of Fame and you are in charge of this process. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject so please email any of your comments to me at Sabrgeek@aol.com and we’ll note them for a future column.
Rich’s vast experience and knowledge of the hobby has been well documented through the years. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on collecting in Klein’s Korner. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.