Semi-retired mobile home executive Dennis Schrader's passion for baseball knows no bounds. The enthusiastic collector has gotten nationwide publicity over the last week or so--ever since the Guinness Book of World Records people deemed his stash of 4,000+ autographed baseballs the biggest in the world.
The 65-year-old Florida resident's collection started when he was nine years old and got the autograph of a young Mickey Mantle. Since then, he's gotten them any way he can. Not all are authenticated, but even if there are some that wouldn't pass, he's still got an impressive collection.
Though Schrader traces his obsession to the first ball signed by Mantle, alas, that one is not part of his record- setting collection. Like a lot of kids in the 1950s who didn't realize how valuable autographs would become, he went out and played baseball with it.
He even has a ball signed by Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe during their short marriage. That one cost him $25,000. A few years ago, a DiMaggio-Monroe dual autographed ball sold for $191,000.
Not long ago, he picked up another DiMaggio ball, inscribed to team owner Del Webb when Joltin' Joe retired in 1951.
The collection he keeps inside a posh home on a Tampa area golf course is so valuable--and important to him--that he's gone to great lengths to keep his collection safe from crooks and natural disasters, including installation of a bank vault door. And oh, by the way, Guinness certified his collection as the 'Largest Collection of Baseballs Signed by Major League Players". His duplicates and balls signed by non-baseball celebrities bring his collection of baseballs to 4,600.
Check out the Associated Press video below:
Ah...but he's got more than autographed baseballs. His love of the game--and collecting--have taken him into a variety of realms that give a little credence to his copyright as "Little Cooperstown". Check out this video: