by Rich Klein
There is nothing like a great National to help show the hobby is still alive and well. And the 2012 National in Baltimore showed the hobby was still alive and kicking. From the dealers doing well financially to the collectors filling their want lists to the corporate giveaways, there is nothing like the party which is the National, And while I always say the National should be in Chicago each year a local DFW collector came up to me during the show and said: "You know I wouldn't mind if we just alternated Baltimore and Chicago and dump Cleveland". I personally have to say I agree with him that the Cleveland set up is not ideal for the National compared to either Chicago or Baltimore.
Having said all that, there are always memories which come tumbling back each year at the National. Two of my favorite Beckett stories involve the same person with our after-work basketball games. The person, Joe White, now works at Panini and I did ask for permission to use one of the stories and the other one, well it's even funnier. The old Beckett building is hard to describe except as a friend of mine put it: "You were lucky to work there at that time with all of us decorating our reasonably large cubicles or offices and looking like we’re walking into a toy store."
I really enjoyed working in that building and there was even more to it than just what was inside. When the building was first opened we had an outdoor sand volleyball court as well as a courtyard in which we could play lunch-time volleyball games as well as after-work basketball games. But for Joe White and me, there are two separate memories which will never be forgotten.
The first one involved an unfortunate scramble for a loose ball in the corner. In making an attempt to get to that ball, my arm accidentally swung and grazed Joe in the man area. Joe got upset and said I'm going to kick you in your man-area. Having more guts than common sense, since Joe was a star soccer player in high school, I told him to go ahead. He hit me square but I did not budge. After that, his fantasy teams at Beckett were always called the Nuttshotz.
The other story involves another unfortunate collision. Both Joe and Evan Thompson were going for a loose ball in the corner (a different corner by the way). Somehow Joe was pushed or lost his balance or we're not sure what happened except Joe's head made contact with a wall. Since none of us wanted to take any chances with a head injury and I knew the area better than most, I volunteered to drive Joe to the emergency room. It took them a while to get to Joe and his head start swelling like Hasim Rahman during his fight with Evander Holyfield. Worried about someone with an head injury and being from the New York City area where we can be very aggressive, I basically yelled at the admitting nurse that I had someone with an head injury and that can be serious and can someone see him now!
Well that little explosion did work and Joe and I went back to the examination area. The doctor mentioned additional tests and asked, “Does your dad want to come with you?” Well after saying something to the effect that I would be honored to have a son like him but I'm only a few years older, Joe went back for his tests and I drove him to his wife's office so she could take him home. Joe is obviously now fine and is still in good spirits but I never let him forget "who's your daddy" when I see him.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]