For most of his life, renowned jeweler and sports card collector Manny Gordon was a devout New York Yankees fan. But his fascination with baseball began as a die-hard fan of the New York Giants, a passion fueled by his infatuation with his childhood hero — Willie Mays.
Gordon remained a Giants fan when they relocated to San Francisco in 1957, but was thrilled when Mays was traded to the New York Mets in 1972, giving him and his son, Josh, yet another team to root for.
Their devotion to the Mets lasted until 1995, when a friend offered Manny a great deal on Yankees season tickets. When the Yankees won the 1996 World Series, he was forever enamored by Yankee pinstripes.
As one of the foremost jewelry experts in New York’s Diamond District, Gordon loved engrossing his customers with precious gems. Eventually he turned his keen eye toward pristine vintage cardboard, and fittingly, it was cards of his hero that first attracted his attention.
In 2007, Gordon began his card-collecting venture with the purchase of such early Willie Mays cards as a 1951 Bowman and a 1952 Topps, as well as a 1941 Play Ball Ted Williams card. Those purchases began what became one of the finest vintage card collections in the country.
Gordon, who died of COVID in early 2020, amassed one of the finest collections of tobacco and gum cards in the hobby, including an impressive assortment of high-grade 1933 and 1934 Goudey Gum Cards. His collection is the highlight of Memory Lane’s 2022 Spring Rarities Auction, which runs through May 21.
Gordon was a close friend of the Memory Lane staff and his collection is being billed as a “celebration” of his life.
Memory Lane President JP Cohen called Gordon’s passing “bittersweet.”
“The inspiring recollections of our tender memories with Manny is the ‘sweet,’ and the ‘bitter’ is the knowledge that life’s circumstances might never allow for building another valued friendship with such a special person like Manny again,” he said. “Manny’s one-of-a-kind friendship could never be replaced.”
One of the top diamond and jewelry entrepreneurs in New York City, Gordon soon began attending the National Sports Collectors Convention each year to learn about the hobby and add to his growing collection. He was well known by both dealers and fellow collectors for his friendly demeanor and infectious personality.
“Manny knew everyone,” said Memory Lane’s Allan Rosenberg. “The stories they would exchange, the warmth and kindness exhibited during the conversations I witnessed was always evident. Manny’s ‘joie de vivre’ was always on exhibition.”
While his high-grade T206 cards were his most prized possession, his Goudey cards were among the finest in existence. They include all four Goudey Babe Ruth cards, each graded PSA 8.
There is also a Goudey Lou Gehrig #92 graded PSA 9 and a hard-to-find Hank Greenberg rookie card graded PSA 9.
According to Memory Lane, Gordon approached card collecting the same way he did his jewelry business — with a meticulous emphasis on “quality” and “superior aesthetics.”
“Manny was one of a kind, a true hobby icon and a selfless human being who was overly passionate when it came to baseball cards and diamonds,” Memory Lane’s Dan Wulkan said. “Quality was everything to him, whether it be in the businesses he partook in, his beloved hobby or the people he surrounded himself with.”
Gordon’s daughter Patrice recalled how her father also enjoyed helping fellow hobbyists, while his son, Josh, said his dad loved to be “in the mix.”
Whether it was at Yankee Stadium or The National, “Dad loved being by the action,” Josh said.
Memory Lane paid tribute to its longtime friend with a special catalog on the Manny Gordon Collection.
“In a world where heroes come and go, Manny Gordan was unequivocally one of the finest individuals we have ever known,” the catalog states. “Via this miraculous Goudey offering, we are once again reminded of his collecting spirit that has an enduring impact on an abundance of hobbyists and friends, with this giant of a man’s pinnacle-like sports cards emulating his unbridled legacy in quintessential fashion.”
You Also Might Like: Why Brooks Robinson was such a nice guy