Rich’s Ramblings: Now Catching… Dr. Jim Beckett

by Rich Klein

To begin, I received a nice email from my old friend Lou Orfanella about our trip to see Joe DiMaggio back in 1982. He still remembers the details of what I had signed (it was an off-quality 1939 Play Ball) and he still has his signed DiMaggio picture to this day. Always a pleasure when 30 years later, the details are still fresh in our mind. He also told me he has not watched a football game since 1981. Makes you wonder if anyone has spent as long without ever watching a football game.

In addition this week, my wife called the police on me and not for the reasons you might think. I went to Office Max to pick up supplies and the nice clerk there asked me if I wanted to get my reward points. For whatever reason, the only phone number that works to receive those points is my wife’s old home number and thanks to modern technology I had the receipt sent to her email. She reacted, and in retrospect, I might have done the same by thinking someone had stolen one of her credit cards. Thus, she called the police who called the store to ask for my description.

The man at the register, Mr. CB described me thusly: 65 years old, Silver hair, Walks with severe limp and owns a white Taurus. Nothing like going 0 for 4 in my book. Let’s see — I’m quite a bit younger than 65, the only place I have tons of white hair are my sideburns, my chiropractor says I do not limp but I do tilt a bit while walking and my car is a Sonata. Of course, I wish I could retire at this point, but from this man’s description, I’m more than halfway there.

Then on Sunday, one of my final acts as a board member of my synagogue was to vote on the selection committee’s recommendation for a new rabbi. I read the resume, and when we finally met the prospective candidate he was nothing like I thought he would be. Now, I have no doubts he will do a good job and I know our selection committee would not have made their recommendation without their belief he is the right man for the job.

One of my thoughts when hearing this description and meeting the prospective rabbi was trying to figure out a way to write a Rich’s Ramblings based on that experience. I had been thinking of many things to write about in the past couple of weeks but hearing that description reminded me of a time where my suspicion of what a person looked like had nothing to do with reality. A similar situation to this occurred nearly 30 years ago now. The location a softball field in Parsippany, New Jersey at the 1984 National Sports Collectors Convention. People who see me now may find this hard to believe, but in my younger days I could hit a softball very well. Now, my fielding on the other hand..not so much.

So I get ready to bat and the catcher introduces himself to me. He says “my name is Jim, what is yours?”  I tell him who I am and he replies I enjoy reading your commentaries and letters very much. You see, the catcher was Jim Beckett who was back there so he could meet as many hobbyists as possible in the most unobtrusive way. I never expected Dr. Beckett to look so young. You have to understand that in 1984 he was already almost legendary in card collecting circles and I expected when the time came to meet him he would be somewhat like those teachers I had in high school and college and not such a young man.

From that game on, and especially after I got hired at Beckett, I always liked to say that Dr. Beckett rescued me from the softball fields in Parsippany, N. J. but getting to know him all began on a softball field during the National. In case, you ever wondered if we should bring back events to the National such as this the answer should be, of course, if possible. To me, the most fun I had at events last year at the National was at the Freedom Card Board party and the Network 54 dinner. At each event, I met several hobbyists and learned so much from them.

So, for 2012 I’m looking forward to the National as a way to meet more new hobbyists and share our continued love for this hobby. However, do not look for me on the softball field. I am officially retired.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]