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Ramblings: Recalling Old Show Trips, Babe Waxpak Retiring

During my tenure at Beckett, I was fortunate enough to go on a lot of trips to card shows and shops across North America—and sometimes beyond.  In those days, there were literally shows going on every week of the year and you could always find a local store or two to visit. Here are some one-off stories, both good and not-so-good, about those trips.

Richs Ramblings Last spring, I wrote about the Puerto Rico card show trip that really was not much of a show. There were a couple of other interesting memories on that journey which were jarred by a discussion with one of my former co-workers over lunch one day.  We discovered that he had a brother in law in New York named Richard Klein and we were both devout Yankees fans. He had the misfortune to marry a Red Sox fan.  One day we were talking recently and he asked me if I had been to Puerto Rico where he is from. When I responded with yes, then I realized I needed to flesh out a bit more of that trip.

You see, on Saturday morning in San Juan, when I realized the show was no better than the Friday Night sneak preview I’d attended, I actually called the Beckett offices because I figured the tireless Dr. Beckett would be working then. He was. I explained Puerto Ricowhat the show was like and his response was “go to the beach”.  Being stubborn and having gotten a list of stores from our customer service department, I ended up hiring a bilingual taxi driver for $50 and I had him take me to all the stores on the list. I don’t remember much about any of those stores or the driver but I remember the rest of my team making fun of me for doing that.  Dr. Beckett, to his credit, always defended my actions as being prepared and trying to make the best of a mediocre situation.

The other funny part of that weekend was I got home really exhausted and I remember a co-worker asking me if I wanted to watch game 7 of the 1991 World Series at a local sports bar. I said no and went to my apartment to watch the game. I think I fell asleep about the seventh inning and did not watch the end of the game. Being a Columbia graduate that meant I missed seeing the highlight of Gene Larkin’s career when he drove in the winning run in that epic 1-0 10 inning battle won by the Twins.

Last week I wrote about various musings during what Dallas-Fort Worth residents called the “icepocalypse” for which some people did not get out of their house for nearly five days including my in-laws in Springtown, Texas. My wonderful niece Paige  got to stay at home for three school days. A little more than 20 years ago, we had ice on Thanksgiving day on what has turned out to be Leon Lett’s famous gaffe. The day after that ice storm, I had a show trip to San Francisco. I remember calling the airlines about 9 AM and asking about the planes and the rep told me (remember this was long before the Internet) that all planes were on time. Thus I allowed two hours for my trip to the airport and hoped to drive slow and carefully enough to get there safely. I did make it to DFW airport, only to find out all planes were delayed 2-4 hours. Talk about not being a real happy camper for the rest of the day.

A couple of other random notes now…

I recently received an email from Bill Wagner, aka Babe Waxpack, saying this: “The Scripps Howard News Service is folding, so it looks like it is time for Da Babe to retire. I really appreciate all the help you offered over the years. It made it easy for me to help out my readers.” Bill, I will miss hearing from you and enjoy going to your airshows. One day, way back when, we were talking about those air shows and he mentioned the leading announcer for those was Frank Kingston Smith. Well for New Yorkers of a certain age, and Boston residents as well, Frank Kingston Smith was one of the great voices of AM Top 40 radio and just hearing about FKS’s career made me smile.

We’d like that thank our good friends Nick and Debbie Redwine of Nick’s Sports Cards for putting a link to this column in their weekly newsletter. Both Nick and Debbie have told me they do follow the column and seeing proof such as that made me smile. In any business, you do not stay in the same location for nearly 25 years without doing almost everything right. As a writer, it’s really cool to see links to your columns and, in addition, I’ve gotten home a few times to see my columns mentioned on which is news about people in your network. It’s fun and a bit shocking.

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].