Ramblings: Remembering The Hobby in 1991

by Rich Klein

A couple of quick hits before we get to a topic which I have wanted to cover for a couple of weeks but life kept getting in the way

First, one of my long-term trading partners, Tim Turner who was also a fixture at many of the events in the 1980’s that made the National such a special time, is in his final stages of battling cancer. I spoke to his brother-in-law recently and it could be any day now. Please add Tim to your prayers if you chose to do so. I will miss him very much as we completed our first trade way back in 1978.

Secondly, the Topps Diamond site finally returned last Thursday. I had saved about 15 codes and did very well as 10 of my cards were pre-1965. I’d wait a week each time for odds like that.

Now for the gist of this weeks Ramblings. When I was growing up, one of the main fixtures in our lives was the concept of the singer-songwriter. Some of those people have stayed active to this day including Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Carole King and James Taylor. Others we have lost including Jim Croce and Harry Chapin.  One of Chapin’s more well known songs was “All MyLife’s a Circle” and here is the YouTube link with lyrics.

With that in mind, we’ll talk about a couple of people who kept appearing in our lives. The first person to talk about actually comes from a show report Theo Chen did in 1991. One thing to remember about ’91 is that in those days, the best way for us at Beckett to get actual prices was to go out to shows and stores to get prices. On one return trip, Theo was busting a 1991 Bowman box on a plane and a stewardess came up to him and they started chatting. As it turned out, the stewardess was engaged to Mike Remlinger, who at the time was a Giants prospect and during the conversation she mentioned to Theo that she hopes he makes the majors soon or she would dump him as she was tired of the minor league life.

1991 Bowman brings up an interesting note in hobby history. In 1991, Topps employed a PR firm but rarely if ever gave them much information to deal with. When I purchased a 1991 Bowman box at a Houston show and brought it back to the office we discovered that we had no preliminary information about this product. In fact, the release came as a total surprise to us. That was the state of Topps and public relations 20 years ago. Fortunately, very quickly after that, Topps started using good PR people and today that end of things is in the very good hands of Clay Luraschi.  They’ve come a long way in that regard.

I don’t remember the details of the follow-up but about five years later we had another Mike Remlinger sighting in a show report and frankly for the rest of his career anytime I saw him pitch in a major league game all I ever could think about was the stewardess talking about getting out of the engagement unless he made the majors quickly.

The other person to discuss is O.J. Simpson. At the 1991 National, which is still a blur to me, I do remember a party in which many players featured in the Pro Line Portraits set were signing autographs. Simpson was one of those. A few years later, if you remember some of the details from the Simpson/Goldman case. O.J. took a flight to Chicago on the night that both Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman lost their lives. Some people believe that there might be a weapon buried in a field near the Chicago airport. I remember my compatriot Dan Hitt going to Chicago the following week on a show trip and Dan was able to walk around that field between the hotels. Dan came back to Dallas and wondered why they had not closed off that field for various security reasons.

The last time I saw O,J. was at the 2005 National Convention. I was walking the floor and did a double take as I thought someone who looked like O.J. was now behind a table in the corner of the convention. As this thread shows there are links to some of the stories involved at the time. In simplest terms, Simpson had not been cleared in advance as a guest or to be behind someone’s table thus he was escorted out of the National.

Needless to say, I do not currently own any Simpson autographs… nor do I own any Mike Remlinger autographs.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]