Ramblings: Old Friends, Upper Deck, COMC and Hobby Publications

by Rich Klein

We have a lot of material to cover this week so the Ramblings will dwell on many different subjects.

The first item on our agenda was in reading the article posted on this site which originally ran in the Northern New Jersey Bergen Record where one of the featured collectors was Mark Mariniello . Mark is the type of collector we used to have a ton of in the hobby and we call people like Mark ‘lifers’. There was a brief time in 1990, when I co-owned a store and because I needed company on the two nights when we were open later. It was fun to hear him regale of the stories of the other store he was working at since I was so much more relaxed than the other owner. I still hear from Mark occasionally and it’s always good to chat with him.

Another item is the sudden passing of Richard McWilliam at the very young age of 59. McWilliam ran the day-to-day operations at Upper Deck for more than 20 years and there is no doubt that Upper Deck did many great things for the hobby and, of course, some things not as good. Among the best things Upper Deck did was during the hobby boom days in the early 1990’s was to acquire licenses in all four major sports, signing key superstars to long-term autograph contracts which guaranteed authenticity of autographs from players such as Michael Jordan and Ken Griffey Jr.   They were a driving force for the growth and acceptance of insert cards and then game-used insert cards. As for the bad part, since he is no longer here to defend himself, I would just say that in the past few years Upper Deck has solidified themselves a bit, and many of the previous issues are now well in the past.

The third part of my hobby tour involves COMC.Com. I just received a small box back with cards which had been sitting at COMC for a while. Now, I understand and agree with the reasons why the majority of the cards were sent back to me but there are about 25 percent I just think should not have been returned.  If I’m willing to send COMC cards and pay for their services, unless I violate one of the conditions about not sending in certain type of cards and items, then as a paying customer it is my right to have those cards sit on their shelves for however long that takes to sell them if ever.  I’ve reached out to COMC to express my concerns.

The local card show in McKinney, Texas was a total change of pace from the previous month.  In December, the majority of the collectors were locals who dropped by either out of curiosity or after being there the previous month.  This month the locals did not come in nearly the same numbers but the standard people you see at local card shows and stores all seemed to attend. Now, if we can only get both groups to show up at the same time then we will truly have a runaway hit show on our hands. I set up a table and did almost as well at this show as the previous one.   There was an interesting walk-in of 1955 and 1956 cards, all of which unfortunately had tape on the back except for a 1955 Bowman Mickey Mantle. Well, if you are going to have a card avoid the tape, the Mick is probably the best option.  It’s are to see such vintage material come through a show anymore.

And the final part of our hobby journey for this week involved Sports Collectors Digest. I got my last issue in the mail recently and the cover of the magazine said this was my last issue. I swear, I had not gotten any renewal notices and thus did not realize how close I was to expiring.  It’s not that I’ll miss SCD but you might think they would pay more attention to someone who has subscribed for more than 35 years. In addition, I have on a couple of occasions subscribed to the SMR but never got a renewal notice there either. I don’t know about you, but I think some follow ups with subscribers is a cheap way to keep cash flow coming in. It is always easier to keep an already existing customer than create a new one.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]