We’ve gotten a lot of response to our various blogs in the first three weeks, and the most compelling aspect that I’ve noted is my own relative unfamiliarity with how to respond. My natural inclination is to respond to the broader audience in a subsequent blog – like this one, for example – but I do understand that not everybody who reads the blog also reads the “Comments” section that follows at the end. Still, my hope would be that the back-and-forth nature of it would serve all readers, with the understanding that enough context is provided.
Much of the initial commentary from readers hasn’t touched upon specific items in the blogs, but rather upon criticism of SCD and my stewardship of same. Some of the commentary seems thoughtful and well considered; some of it is more strident and occasionally personal. Either way, I need to develop a thicker skin and kind of roll with the odd punch here and there.
Concerning some of the allegations that SCD does not take an aggressive enough stance on problematic issues in the hobby, I would only suggest that we try to address controversies like trimmed and altered cards, fraudulent autographs, etc., through interviews and profiles of any number of hobby professionals. The criticism about how much we’ve hammered the card companies about the redemption process might be more legitimate. We have taken note of the inherent problems that surround the idea of redemptions, but we’ve hardly taken it up as an editorial causis belli (I just wanted to get some latin into the blog).
A couple of readers complained about our relationship with advertisers in general and one in particular; there’s not much to say in that regard other than to restate that our magazine holds an obligation to both readers and advertisers, and we try to navigate that tricky middle ground that ostensibly separates the two. I say “ostensibly,” because the distinction between the two is hardly absolute. Creating a venue for buying and selling cards and memorabilia was what gave life to SCD 34 years ago, and it’s never been a traditional adversarial relationship because everybody who buys stuff ends up selling stuff sooner or later.
Questions about our delivery of SCD are even more discouraging, because it’s an area we know is one of the most important components of the magazine and also – to our great frustration – an area where we don’t have as much control as we would like. We have worked mightily with a number of alternate solutions to deliver the magazine over the years, but ultimately wind up being at the mercy of the U.S. Postal Service.
We never miss any deadlines with the magazine; one the same day every week, it’s sent from our printer to the regional postal facility in Chicago where it gets routed around the country. It would almost be unprecedented for a particular delivery snafu to be connected with something we’ve done, rather than something linked to the handling by the Postal Service.
For our customers, if that sounds like a lame excuse, I would insist it is not. The ultimate responsibility for getting SCD into a reader’s hands in a timely fashion is ours, and we will continue to work to ensure that, but the reality if that our ability to impact the whole process is not nearly as significant as we would like.
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One of the cool things that we used to do here in Iola was to hold a special promotion each spring called “Whatzit Day.” The idea was that people from the community would bring their collectibles to our offices and the editors from our various divisions would evaluate the material and provide details – including but not limited to potential value – to the collector.
It was always an extremely popular event, and I liked doing it just to see the items that collectors would bring in. The antiques end of things was by far the busiest department, but there would occasionally be some good cards or sports memorabilia that would turn up.
Inspired by that idea (and, obviously, the iconic “Memorabilia Road Show” on PBS), we added a “What’s It Worth?” component to our annual SportsFest Show in suburban Chicago. The first edition, held at last year’s show in early June at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., was a major hit, with perhaps 150 collectors bringing in material that ranged from the pedestrian to the sublime.
A USA Today writer and photographer also turned up at the show, producing a piece that ran in the paper the following week, with nearly a full page dedicated to the “What’s It Worth” program, including several spectacular photos both in the paper itself and on the USA Today website.
So with that kind of history, naturally, we’re doing it again, this time at the new SportsFest site at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center, just a hoot and a holler from the former site (about 10 minutes northwest). The show runs June 8-10, with the “What’s It Worth” session slated for 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, June 9. For more information, go to www.sportsfestshow.com.
By the way, the last time we held the “Whatzit Day” program here in Iola, the neatest sports item brought in for examination was a complete set of 1933 Goudeys, all in vg-ex condition, but all from the Goudey files, since each card had a nice, round punch hole squarely in the middle at the top of the card. Not bad for such a small community, eh?
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Those kinds of programs do wonderful things in terms of introducing and often connecting the broader public to our hobby. Dan Schlossberg, certainly one of the most highly regarded and prolific sports authors in the country, does a nice job of accomplishing that very same goal in his latest book, Baseball Gold: Mining Nuggets From Our National Pastime.
Chalk this up under the old dictum about “unintended consequences,” but intended or not, our hobby gets a boost in a marvelous, 400-page book that includes so much hobby-related art that it could be “ripped from the pages of SCD,” as they say.
In a book filled with fascinating facts and factoids about everything from baseball history, stadiums, fans and rules to teams, trades traditions and spring training, the accompanying art is nearly perfect. In addition to images from the Hall of Fame and a vast array of photos of cards, souvenir programs, equipment and jerseys, there are literally dozens of pieces of original art from the Bill Goff Inc. stable of artists, a similar number of Ronnie Joyner caricatures and even the old “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” cartoons that touched upon the world of sports.
All those artists appear routinely in the pages of SCD, as does Schlossberg himself, who is an SCD columnist. The book can be ordered at www.triumphbooks.com, and is also available at Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide.