Klein’s Korner: Mourning A Chicago Area Veteran Of The Hobby – One of the greatest, if not the greatest, sportswriter of all times was Red Smith. One of the anthologies published of his columns was titled: “To Absent Friends” in which he eulogized all sorts of people involved in the sports world. Tonight, as I write this, I’m sending a note to the latest edition of “Absent Friends” and this person was one of the sport collecting hobby great figures of the 1970s and 1980s.
As I was just checking Facebook this afternoon just trying to see if there was any update on the HOF Vote Tracker with tomorrow being selection day. I was stopped when I saw this post on FB:
“Our hearts are shattered and broken today a we learned that our friend, Bruce Paynter, has passed away (on the left) at 68. Our purple is much more blue than usual as we try and wrap our heads around this huge loss. Northwestern Wildcats will never be the same and we hope your mom and dad greeted you with big smiles in Heaven. Bonita we are sending you all of our love. 💜💜💜 Godspeed dear sweet friend.”
Note this is not the family photo but his twitter ID photo:
Now for those of you who might not know or remember Bruce, he and his wife Bonita ran Chicago area shows for many years with the two most important being the 1983 and 1989 National Convention.
When I went to the 1983 National Convention along with my good friend Mel Solomon I had never been to a National before. I had been or set up at Willow Grove, Montclair State and White Plains but trust me when I say the National was 10 times as overwhelming as any of those shows. There were about 250-300 tables at the 1983 National and Friday was the most amazing day I ever had at a show. That day, and a 1989 Sunday in Virginia Beach were the only two days I felt I never was able to catch a breath at the shows. We were constantly busy from 9 AM to 9 PM on Friday and I’ve never seen such energy for such a long period at a show.
To top it off, that evening, I sat in a room and basically took notes as the National Convention first by-laws were created. The most important of those by-laws was the 400 miles, no contiguous state rule. The reason for the rule was from 1981-83 the National had stayed in the Mid West and unless something was done many dealers were happy with never having to go to either coast. The rules worked and nearly four decades after the show was created, the National is still going strong. Here is a random photo from the 2018 National:
Bruce and Bonita also promoted the 1989 National. They got some promotional assistance and it seemed that every person in the Chicago area knew about the show. Years later, when I was talking to Dave Sliepka, who was a Chicago-area native and ended up as a Beckett teammate of mine, we figured out he and his buddies had all spent a ton of time and a decent amount of money at my tables. The 1989 show was another amazing success and the two Chicago Nationals were the best of the Nationals I set up at in the 1980’s.
To me, the better aspect was I got to see Bruce and Bonita each year at the National and would be able to catch up. They even handled with good grace the untimely passing of their son Bryan at the way too young age of 21. But I have better memories of Bruce including that he and Bonita were always happy to send me cards and prizes for our Adat Chaverim show. One of the funniest prizes they ever sent (and I knew and approved it in advance) was a monster box filled with…. wait for i,…… 1989 Donruss Tom Prince cards. Yep, the Adat Chaverim brotherhood still has about 4,800 of that card and I will promise anyone if they pull a bag loaded with that specific card, I will ensure they receive another bag free of charge. The Paynter’s also gave us a lot of good cards and items so I was OK with the Tom Prince cards. Besides that many cards makes for a great story.
That’s why I prefer the happier parts of the hobby and for me any time I see a Tom Prince card going forward I will always remember my friend Bruce Paynter with a smile.
Rest well my friend!
For more from Rich Klein, follow him on Twitter @sabrgeek.