Collector Talks About Missing Baseball Cards

Rick Fasanella’s mom did not throw out his cards. He says someone at a shipping company did something worse.

On Friday, we told you about Rick Fasanella, the Florida man who sent his collection of vintage baseball cards off to Beckett Grading Services only to have a big chunk of the package come up missing.

It turns out he was sending portions of a childhood collection to be authenticated and graded. Despite his payment of $83 for $15,000 worth of insurance, he says the shipping company won’t pay up.

Now he’s suing FedEx in Palm Beach County Court:

By Emily Minor

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sometimes in life, you do what you have to do, and that’s how Rick Fasanella and his baseball cards ended up at the FedEx office.

"I really didn’t put anything away for retirement," Fasanella said Friday. "I wanted to see what they were worth."

Fasanella, 60, a Jupiter businessman, grew up in Connecticut following the New York Yankees. "My dad wasn’t a baseball fan. My two brothers didn’t collect cards," he said. "Somehow, I got hit with the bug."

The first pack of cards he bought was in 1957 – all five cards wrapped in wax paper, a sheet of bubble gum AND a Billy Martin card inside. A Yankee on his first try! It was baseball kismet, plain and simple, the sign that a true fan of the game was being born. Rick Fasanella was 10 years old.

Through the years, Fasanella bought more cards. And while other kids were actually using theirs – clipping them on bike spokes, flipping to win more, wrapping them together in a careless bundle with a giant rubber band – Fasanella used greater care. "I kept my cards in good shape," he said. He eventually collected the entire sets for 1958, ’59, ’60 and ’61.

"I collected every card," he said.

Cards stayed with parents

Fasanella kept them in cardboard boxes at the bottom corner of his bedroom closet, through grade school and middle school and high school. When he graduated and left home, the baseball cards stayed.

"I always kept the cards back at my parents’ place," he said Friday.

Finally, when Fasanella and his wife and two kids moved to Florida in 1995, the cards came with them. This time, he put them in a safe-deposit box.

And there they stayed until …

Well – as is so often the case in baseball – this is not a happy story.

Fasanella wanted to know how much some of his cards were worth, so he decided to ship them to an appraiser.

He chose 102 cards. His 1941 DiMaggio. The ’52 Mantle. There were some Jackie Robinsons and a Stan Musial, a Rocky Colavito and a Billy Martin. Fasanella said he overnighted them from FedEx, paying $84 for $15,000 in insurance.

"In general, I sent all of my best cards," he said.

We’ll get this next part over quickly, because it’s painful.

The cards never got there.

"About a week later, I got a call from a FedEx employee," Fasanella said. "He said, ‘We have a problem. Your package has been damaged, and we’re going to send it back to you.”"

But when Fasanella got the package, the cards were inside a bubble envelope – not the box he’d packed them in.

And 36 of the 102 cards were missing.

"It just so happened that the best cards fell out of the box," he said. "Someone knew what they were doing."

Didn’t read the fine print

After this, Fasanella said corporate red tape ensued, including a settlement offer of $100 , then $500. (Fasanella claims the insurance he bought is no good because the FedEx fine print says they don’t insure sports cards.)

This week, Fasanella filed suit in Palm Beach County. A company spokesman said Friday they have not seen the lawsuit.

"I’m trying not to let this bother me," Fasanella said. "I’m getting too old to let stuff make me crazy."

Besides, he still has his greatest baseball possession – better than any card, really. He’d almost sent it off to be appraised, but he changed his mind at the last minute.

Kismet perhaps?

The ticket stub from that Sunday afternoon in 1961, when – as a boy of 14 – Fasanella watched Roger Maris hit No. 61 to the short porch in Yankee Stadium.

It was a lofty fly ball, but you knew it was outta there.

He’s still got that.