Klein’s Korner: Record hobby history – If you are a regular reader of this column you are probably aware of Dr. James Beckett podcasts, of which I’m regularly a guest. Many listeners tell us how much they enjoy the stories of the hobby past – where buying trips were a thing and so many goodies were lying in closets just waiting to be purchased.
In the 1970’s when I started getting involved in the hobby, such finds and stories were almost commonplace, to the point where they were not always jotted down or remembered.
I started thinking about this more after speaking with Mike Cramer. Mike has worn many hats within the hobby including collector, dealer, store owner, photographer and, perhaps most famously, manufacturer, as he owned Cramer Sports Promotions which later became Pacific Trading Cards. (I might even be forgetting some of the hobby aspects he has been involved with). Can you imagine the stores Mike has accumulated over the 50 years he has been in the hobby?
So here’s my challenge: As one of my hobby mentors, Frank Barning, always said: “Everyone has an article in them,” or, by today’s technology, everyone has at least one taping in them.
Let me share a couple other examples with you.
At the 2017 National, I remember BA Murry, John Rumirez and myself had a bunch of dealers at the NSCC dealer “breakfast” transfixed as we told stories of the 1970s and 1980s. Lou Brown, who has been very active in the business, thanked me later for all the really cool stories of the hobby past. The best part for me was that, even though I was technically a corporate person, everyone just laughed and said he’s really a dealer so let him join everyone. You know, once a dealer, always a dealer.
Some of the best stories come from smaller shows as well, such as the Willow Grove mini conventions. One of the favorite stories, outside of how terrible the George Washington Motor Lodge was as a place to sleep, was when my friend Mike Gallela came into the lobby with two different sheets of 1963 Fleer baseball. One of the sheets had the checklist and the other sheet had the short-printed Print Joe Adcock in the same sheet location. It’s always nice to have information we surmised in the hobby verified by facts.
And while we’re talking about sheets, there was a time at the 1993 Nassau Coliseum show that a vendor had the 1961 fifth series full sheet available. What was great about that specific sheet was what we had believed to be short printed cards including Bill Skowron, Jim Maloney’s Rookie Card, Ty Cline and Charlie Neal and a few others.
Today, whenever there is a cool find of items new to the hobby they get names and the proper provenance. Such an example was the “Uncle Jimmy” collection which included countless 1930’s Goudey autographed cards. While it was great to see such nice merchandise come into the marketplace, imagine if someone had the foresight to put onto tape many of his collecting stories. This beautifully-signed Babe Ruth card is just one example from the collection.
We don’t always have time for this but I’d love to have everyone talk to and save the memories of one long-time collector or dealer. Creating a hobby oral history is one of the best things we can pass on to future hobby generations.