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Saying good-bye is tough, Part Deux ...

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(This is the second and concluding part of a blog that appeared yesterday.)

After 17 years as a full-time staffer at Sports Collectors Digest – including more than a decade as editor of SCD – I will be leaving F+W Media, effective on Friday, Jan. 14. The details of the reorganization in the sports division here are outlined in Tom Bartsch’s “Leading Off” column on Page 9 of this issue.

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I also got a kick out of covering phone auctions in the pre-Internet days. Aside from the famed Halper sale, I covered auctions – some with live components – by Rosen, Hunt Auctions, Lelands, Sotheby’s, Guernsey’s, Sports Cards Plus, Mastro and Steinbach and a number of others. I know it makes me sound like an old geezer – guilty as charged – but there was a raucous excitement and intensity to those events that made them a cross between a political convention and the home stretch at Belmont Park. The Internet made things more efficient, which ain’t hardly the same thing as more fun.

Over the 17 years, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview dozens of major athletes and Hall of Famers, a chore that belies the very designation. From Aaron to Yastrzemski, it was always a treat and I never lost sight of how lucky I was to have such opportunities.

Air travel is a good deal more onerous in 2010 than it was in 1995, and the various trips brought me to virtually every corner of the country, from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Boston, New York and points in between. Circumstances occasionally planted me in hotels that were way out of my tax bracket, often so luxurious that it was nearly impossible to gripe about doubling up in the rooms.

At the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in San Francisco, we rubbed elbows quite literally with Alan Greenspan in the elevator. He presumably had one of those luxury suites to himself, but I roomed with a former KP advertising sales rep named Duke Tuomi, who snored so prodigiously that I didn’t sleep for three days. After two days of that, I sorta tried to kill him by marching him up and down San Fran’s hills ostensibly looking for a restaurant. Presumably if it had worked, I wouldn’t have admitted to the premeditation, at least not in print anyway.

And while the travel and related exploits – restaurants, hotels, even the occasional All-Star Game (Nice going, Bud) – were cool, it was similarly a joy to be able to put this magazine out every week.

Virtually even before I took over as editor, I made a concerted effort to promote as many of the great sports artists as I could in the pages each week. I’ll take the risk of leaving someone out because I really want to acknowledge as many of those great talents as I can.

Here goes: Charles De Simone (Musial artwork shown above), Bill Forsyth, Dan Gardiner, Stephen Holland, Robert Hurst, Michael Joseph, Andy Jurinko, Graig Kreindler, Ron Lewis, Paul Madden, Mike Mellett, Arthur K. Miller, Christopher Paluso, Dick Perez, Bill Purdom, Nathalie Rattner, Mike Schacht, Bruce Stark, Ron Stark (Satchel Paige artwork shown) and Darryl Vlasak. If that’s not a great inaugural class for the Sports Artist Hall of Fame, I don’t know what is.

My debt to all those artists is enormous and couldn’t be adequately addressed even if I had worked at SCD for another 17 years. I am very proud of the covers and use of inside artwork in the magazine and convinced – perhaps inordinately, but I doubt it – that the magazine would have been a shadow of what it was without their contributions.

Along with realizing virtually from the start how fortunate I was to be doing a job that I loved, I similarly understood that this particular job was one for which I was uniquely qualified. I can remember looking at an SCD back in the mid-1980s – coincidentally, it was biweekly then, too – and thinking that being the editor of that magazine must be one of the greatest jobs in the world.
I don’t remember at the time if I even fantasized about having a chance to actually hold the job, but either way I’m very thankful to the people who made it happen.

– T.S. O'Connell

Auction of the Week

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Collect Auctions Summer Auction

Collect Auctions bidding ends August 6 and bidders can view each lot on our website at www.collectauctions.net. There are more than 1,000 lots of vintage sports cards and sets; what we believe is the strongest unopened lineup any auction house has ever offered. Bidding ends Thursday, August 6 at 9:00 p.m. CST (10:00 EST).