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Ramblings: Glimpses Back in Time, PSA & COMC, Researcher’s Life

Some news and observations from the official Ramblings notebook:

Richs Ramblings As I have mentioned, one of my favorite Internet radio stations is site titled rewoundradio.com in which about 98 percent of their 6,000 song mix is from the 1955-1979 time frame. One highlight is every Saturday at Noon Eastern there is a “Rewound Radio Disc Jockey Hall of Fame” in which air checks of famous and not so famous disc jockeys are featured. Last week there was a late night air check featured from 1962.  It was obvious the person who taped the show in 1962 was quite a distance from the radio station’s signal. One song by Brenda Lee was played while the tape was being adjusted so  John Troll, the producer of these segments, did what any normal tape restorer would do which was try to find a version to fit into the recording. However, in the digital age of 2014, the song sounded wrong. The song sounded fresh and bubbly compared to the rest of the tape.

microphoneWhen I contacted John he mentioned not being able to recapture with digital the magic we heard long ago in 1962. It’s just…different. That phonographic radio sound went out as the hobby went through the major boom of the 1987-94 time period.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that when we look at 1973 Topps cards today we think of those cards as new but if we think about cards from 40 years earlier, the equivalent when we started collecting was 1933 Goudeys.  Those 1970’s cards still invoke memories of over the air TV stations, AM radios, Farrah Fawcett and Lynda Carter posters and sharing many of the same experiences with our friends in person and—hold your breath—through hand-written letters.

For many of us hobby lifers, that was when we discovered what a wonderful hobby this could be.  Cards were easier and relatively more affordable then compared to some of today’s newer releases.  As John would say, we can’t recapture the magic of listening to the far-away sounds but at least with cards we can recapture some of those elements with tangible items.

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But time does march on and the rest of our Ramblings will be discussed on more modern topics. Some of the newer Beckett analysts have begun producing a “Beckett Radio” show. I listened to the first show the other day and with their background in media, the show was very fast paced and was a nice listen. While not really touching on any super important hobby topic, there is always a place for more positive hobby feedback. I will be interested to see how the show develops over the next few PSA logomonths.

Recently a dealer posted something in an email about a PSA “Invitational” where many of their larger submitters go to meet with PSA staff including graders.  PSA’s largest volume submitters get to bring along previously graded cards they would like to have looked at again in hopes of a possible ‘bump’ up.  Reviews are something the company does offer to anyone for a fee.

While many people were feigning their typical outrage about a special gathering, it doesn’t really bother me that much. If I were a major PSA submitter I would feel that I deserve a chance to have a more relaxed atmosphere to meet with company representatives.  I can’t tell you I know exactly what happens at these events but some people seem predisposed to assume the worst.  Let’s face these facts:  In business, you do your best to ensure your best customers have the best experiences. While you want everyone to be dealt with properly, if I were at PSA, Beckett or SGC and had a chance to create an event to talk one-on-one with those who are supporting me the most, you better believe I would do so. That is just common sense.

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There is also the mention of the new COMC processing service. While I did have one late night conversation with a major dealer/store owner who agreed that he would have to do more front end work now, I also think there are many advantages to the new system. Perhaps the most important change is not all your cards will hit the COMC system at once. Frankly, I like being able to have staggered entry of my cards and that will also mitigate any financial hit from sending in too many cards at one time. This is all part of the new COMC which will be heavily working on check listing and creating real time pricing for their cards. I frankly am excited about being able to send in a larger package and not worry about the whole load hitting at once.

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And tonight I spoke to my old friend Mark Macrae about my upcoming show. He had even posted he thought I was on the right track for the show with not having overly optimistic projections. I will have more details about the show preparations after our men’s club board meeting this Sunday where I will be able to have flyers to hand out and work out some more details. With a little less than two months to go, the preparations are good and I will have more details either this weekend or early next week as part of the continuing series about what a modern small show takes to promote.

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Mark also mentioned that he had spent most of the past two years working on a special project for the late Bill Weiss. There was a recent article in Sports on Earth about how much time and effort has been spent to preserve and make available to researchers the voluminous files that Weiss accumulated over the years. He actually contacted hundreds of minor leaguers decades ago and had them fill out questionnaires, many of which were returned by players who went on to become big league stars or even Hall of Famers.  They’re valuable—and so are other parts of Bill’s collection—but the biggest value is in the information he painstakingly kept for so long.

The sheer volume of what will be available is incredible. The article is definitely worth a read.  Click here to check it out.

Bill Weiss’ work  takes us back to the days when we all dreamed of being pro ballplayers and filling out such questionnaires for researchers and statisticians who have written the game’s history even at its most obscure levels. And it takes us back to those late nights with the radio, listening to music or baseball on far away stations and imagining it all.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]

About Rich Klein

Rich Klein has spent almost his entire life collecting baseball cards having begun at the tender age of seven. He has spent more than three decades in the organized hobby including editing the first 12 editions of the Beckett Almanac of Baseball Card and Collectibles. He lives in Plano, TX along with his wife Dena and their two dogs. You can reach him at [email protected].

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