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Tales from a summer masquerade as a dealer ...

This is going to be a different kind of blog, sort of a diary-style entry, recounting my last summer prior to coming to work here at Sports Collectors Digest in 1993. What prompts it is I stumbled across the bookkeeping that I used to track that eventful tour around the country, and thought it might be of interest to readers.

As I’ve noted before, I wasn’t a very good card dealer, at least not in terms of how effectively I performed the elemental challenge of making enough money to stay afloat, but I did enjoy the shows and the travel, and certainly the people that I encountered at shows, dealers and collectors alike.

It’s also worth noting that in 1993 shows were a good deal stronger than they are today, and there were more of them. That’s not lamenting the current tepid climate, just pointing out an important fact. If I had trouble cutting it as a dealer in 1993, just imagine how I would fare in the more daunting waters of 2009.

Anyway, I started off at a show at a big mall in Albany, N.Y., the city where I had lived for a couple of years in the early 1980s. It was the proverbial fast start: I sold a Koufax rookie, a 1956 Topps Clemente, a 1968 Topps Mantle and even a Maris rookie. I won’t routinely bore you with dollar details except when they are especially noteworthy, either high or low. Even I was capable of selling a nice condition Sandy Koufax rookie without incident. That’s normally described as damning with faint praise.

I even bought a couple of neat things at the show, probably paying too much as I typically did back then, though it didn’t seem so at the time: about $125 for Brett and Yount rookies, and $75 for a sparkling 1961 Topps Maris. I ended up fine with the latter, but as y’all know, Brett and Yount rookies were headed for some adjustment over the next decade, and I might have lost some dough on that deal.

In late June I did a show at the Polish Community Center outside of Albany, a neat venue and a wonderful card show that was run by prominent East Coast hobby figure Ed Keetz. I also knew and admired his dad, Frank Keetz, and I always enjoyed that show, which I had attended as a collector back in the early 1980s. The only notable high point at this one was I sold a 1957 Topps Yankees Sluggers card for $300; the other memorable part was the lights went out at one point, leaving the place in total darkness for a few minutes.

A couple of weeks later I headed to Baltimore for FanFest, stopping in Newark, Del., where I had lived (in the area) from 1983-91. Got to visit old friends, and then got really lucky with an opportunity to interview Milwaukee Braves and Negro leagues great Billy Bruton at his home in Wilmington, Del. That was a thrill, as was an interview with Bobby Thomson at his hotel outside Baltimore where he was appearing at FanFest. Both those interviews would materialize I assume later that fall in articles in SCD, for whom I was frantically freelancing in those days. Anybody who has ever freelanced understands the use of the “frantically” adverb.

A few days later (July 7) I headed to my favorite place on earth, Cooperstown, where I availed myself of the library at the Hall of Fame for research on Thomson, Ralph Branca, Bruton and Bobby Shantz, all for feature articles in SCD.

I resume this journey on the morrow.

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