by Rich Klein
Like so many other people, the month of December ranks among my favorite times of the year. The decorations are so beautiful, the music is so cheerful and people are bustling about to prepare for holiday and year-end or next year events. Which is especially why we as a nation are so touched and devastated when we hear about events such as the murder of all those innocent young children in Connecticut. As a person whose both parents were educators and whose wife works at a local high school in Texas, it really hits home. My only question to the gunman, if he were still here to answer it, is what did those children ever do to you? We do usually like to keep Ramblings in a lighter mood but the outrage we have as a nation sometimes overwhelms other reactions.
About one year ago this week, I wrote about the car accident which totaled my old and paid-off car (did I ever mention that I hate car payments?) and fortunately did not physically hurt me very much. A few days after the accident, I attended the Prestonwood Baptist Christmas Concert and wrote about the amazing performance. We went again this year. For those people who are not overly religious, I'll still recommend going (just stay for the first act which is largely secular) and the concert was even more amazing than the previous year.
Then a couple of days later we attended the Plano Symphony Home for the Holidays concert. We have a partial season ticket plan to the symphony and before anyone thinks with the word ‘symphony’ that these are boring concerts featurve been such diverse acts as the Lettermen, Marvin Hamlisch, Maureen McGovern and Florence LaRue leading the 5th Dimension appearing as part of the series. I don't remember too much Bach, Brahms or Beethoven played on those nights. But again, the holiday concert is truly a special event and in both of these concerts, hearing all choir voices make for a very special experience.
While sitting at these concerts I also realized how fortunate I am to be able to participate in various Secret Santa (or ‘Secret Snowflake’ as we had to call that where I work) where I can give and receive gifts to like-minded hobbyists. This year, not only did I participate in the Collectors Universe version, I also participated in the new Net 54 version. I have mailed out both my gifts and received the Collectors Universe gift at this point. The Net 54 gift should be on the way to me as the process did begin a bit later in the holiday season. As a hint, there will be some interesting box reviews to come in the near future for this site. But the real joy is giving and receiving gifts.
This also applies to the birthday group I'm a member of on the Freedom Card Board message board. This month I actually remembered on time to send my birthday gift to a person who collects older Yankee material and was lucky I had just picked up some older cards to go with some modern odds and ends I sent him. The previous person, I forgot about until reminded and he was thrilled with what I had sent him as I had filled a really obscure and tough Ryne Sandberg item for his collection.
But gift giving is even more than that. One of my co-workers who did not grow up with a lot of money and also has four very young children wanted some Tom Landry items for himself. I was able to help out and give a special Tom Landry card Panini produced as well as having a friend of mine in the retired player-licensed photo business prepare an 16 x 20 photo of Landry talking to Dallas legend Roger Staubach. Fortunately he just loved the gift just as a child the year before where my wife does part-time work (court ordered supervised visits) wanted cards of his favorite player Troy Polamalu.
When I was able to make sure he had some base cards of Polamalu for the holidays the young man of seven was thrilled. We as a hobby talk about base cards as meaningless to way too many people but let me assure you to a person who may not have a lot of money and has a favorite player, base cards of their favorites mean as much to them as that 1/1 Trent Richardson patch card I pulled last week means to me. Always try to remember that our base cards may continue to help the next generation become collectors as well and there is an importance to them as well.
And when I went to my friends office to pick up the photos that also reminded me I had done some part-time work for him after I left Beckett and had talked to some of the player's he works with. That memory was rekindled when I saw that Eugene Lockhart (Cowboys and Patriots linebacker) had been sentenced to jail for a mortgage fraud conviction. As part of the job I would occasionally talk to the players my friend produced photos of, one of which was Mr. Lockhart. I said something to him once and that set him off on an obscenity-laced tirade that lasted about 20 minutes.
Fortunately, most of the players my friend produces photos for are really nice. Guys like Cowboys defensive back Michael Downs and Packers wide receiver Carroll Dale come to mind. Honestly, I would say that perhaps 90 percent of all the retired players my friend works with are thrilled to go out, be remembered and meet their fans. I will reiterate, as I say many times, there are areas of opportunity for promoters to use these players and while you not him home runs, you will score a lot of runs with single after single after single. The cost is less and the return can be significant.
All of these can only mean one thing: Giving and receiving cards and memorabilia is a wonderful thing we can do not just for everyone, especially those truly in need of gifts, for a happy holiday season. And as I've done for many years, I donated cards through my wife's school. Way back in my Beckett days, we once estimated that the Beckett employees had donated well over 250.000 cards over the years through cards for kids. Nothing I ever did at Beckett made me prouder than all the time I spent working on that project.
Happy holidays everyone!
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]