Klein’s Korner: Random Thoughts – One of the great advantages of writing a column is you get to choose, within reason, your own topic. Sometimes, the topic is purely sports card and memorabilia related as the one I did for the National and sometimes the topic is personal as was my personal tribute to Big Dan Ingram. Now, if you are not a certain age and did not grow up with limited radio and television options, the concept of a disc jockey becoming a local icon is probably very foreign to you. But if you are a certain age, and this stretches to people who grew up in the 1980’s as well, the still somewhat fragmented but still limited options made those people in entertainment known to all either locally or nationally.
So, there was plenty of sense when my Big Dan column did not really make much of an inroad in the sports card world but made a very nice impression in the radio world and among listeners and fans. In fact, the first person who responded to me and by comments let me know I made the correct choice in what to opine about was a local New Jersey dealer named Steve Mandy. I first met Steve more than 30 years ago when he would come to shows to chase down John Morris cards. Yep, in those days, all around the country we had local heroes whom our customers collected and the mail order options were not as many. So for Steve, getting those John Morris cards is still a running line between us more than 30 years later. In fact, John’s card shows his as a member of the 1987 Cardinals and this will be the first of two mentions of reserve players pictured as 1987 Cardinals tonight.
I bring up Steve because he has survived in business for all these years and is what I would call a baseball card lifer. Steve has done a great job staying in business through the ups and downs and has shown how one can make the effort to survive. Here is a photo during a signing with Negro League player Robert Scott.
Although this fact is hard to imagine, but just after the 1990 National I had my interview with Dr. Jim Beckett for the position I would take at Beckett and have me move to Dallas. I set up at my first show in 1979 and by 1986 had gone full time into the hobby so I knew most of the dealers and collectors in the North Jersey area and some of the rest in the Tri-State area. Steve is just one example of people I keep in some contact with after all these years thanks to our shared hobby.
Another one is Mark Mariniello. Mark worked for me for a short time in 1990 and now is an integral part of what is titled on Facebook: Garfield card show and coffee clatch. I truly appreciate Mark has let me be a member of that group as I know many of the other members thereof. And again, I know these people for 30 years or more in most cases. One of the members is the legendary high school baseball coach John Ponchak. John did have a future major leaguer on his team in the 1980’s, Mike Laga. Well, as promised Mike was also a 1987 Cardinal Card.
Mike also has this famous at-bat saved on You Tube. I remember watching this live but seeing this again makes one realize how special the memory is for all of us.
There are of course, other people I know just as well in the “clatch“. And to me, one of the best part of the hobbies are the lifers, the ones who still can tell stories of the days gone by but are still interested in collecting into the 21st century. Down here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area we still tell stories of the 1986 and 1990 Nationals and other local store owners/show dealers. Having met most of them since I moved down here, I can hang on those stories and appreciate them so much.
Thanks for letting me share some of these stories with you and I look forward to catching up with many of you at the 2018 National. I have limited internet access during that time so the best ways to reach me is via my phone # if you have that number or leaving a message at the COMC booth if I’m not there. I love hobby conversations old and new and since I’m at the National repping for COMC, and you want to chat about COMC, I’m happy to talk about them as well.
Hopefully, as usual, the National will be the inspiration for a whole new series of columns.
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.
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