by Rich Klein
Just some quick touches here on stories of some of my hobby friends past and present.
The recent passing of Mike Gallela brought to mind several of my favorite stories about him. The first one was at the really major shows he would wear these really ugly sneakers. One time I asked him about that and he explained to me "Richie, you see these little straps/zippers on the sneaker. Those open and I put any $50-100 bill in those sneakers. His theory was, if you grew up in an area where you might get robbed, no one would steal sneakers (this was pre the $200 or so Jordan or James sneakers) and the robber would led you keep your shoes. Well, even if you lost all your money, you still have plenty left in your shoes. Smart thinking from a city boy there.
Another story, and I think this is from Max Silberman. One day he made all of $7 at a show. He would talk about that day proudly and say "You know, if I knew I was only going to make $7 for the day I would have given back that one customer's money." His point was that $7 was a really frustrating day while being shut out was a badge of honor. I remember managing Mike Gordon's store one very rainy day in 1989. Not even the kids were coming in. We just had a very bad day. It was so bad that when 8 p.m. came and we had been open for 9 hours we had not taken in a penny. At least the end of the day count was pretty easy. No sales, no reason for a count-- and that was during the hobby boom.
The recent Lew Lipset emails about his goal to write his autobiography reminded me of the last time I saw him. That was at the Atlantic City National in 2003. During our chat, Lew casually told me he had picked up a really rare item, spent some money and asked that I not tell his wife about that purchase. I know the item was good but I'll be darned if I remember what the piece was at this point of my life. I only remember the dollar figure and that we'll continue not to mention.
I remember seeing selling lists circa 1989-90 with large amounts of cards. I could have sworn one catalog said quantities of 1989 Topps baseball up to 8,000 of each player (10 800 ct. boxes) and that is when I truly realized that at some point that new card market was heading for a fall. Even in 1989, I wondered what one would do with 8,000 Jim Abbott cards (and he was incredibly popular in 1989). I guess the other time I realized the newer market was out of control was when I was in Wayne Grove's first base shop one night in 1991 and Gervise Ford was telling me he was consulting on a new "tennis set”. I realized then, we were looking for sets on just about anything that moved and some material that did not.
I've been communicating with Brian Cataquet via LinkedIn. He is bringing back his BCB auctions. If you’ve seen his videos, Brian is very high energy and isn’t afraid to show it. He asked me to assist him and I’m glad to do so.
To conclude, we are still interested in hearing your stories about completing sets and what cards turned out to be much harder to find than you may have expected. Our good friend, the 1968 Topps Lee May card, will be making another appearance in my upcoming show report.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]