Ken Kendrick’s baseball card collection is getting another museum engagement.
Phoenix Art Museum will showcase 41 cards, including some of the rarest and most important cards ever made from March 9 through April 24.
Kendrick, a longtime collector, is managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks and owns one of the hobby’s most valuable collections of important baseball cards.
The Ultimate Collection: Iconic Baseball Cards from the Diamondbacks Collection features 16 of the top 20 rated sports trading cards in the world, along with an additional 25 highly-valued cards.
“It is truly a magnificent opportunity to bring a collection of this cultural significance to Phoenix Art Museum and to our community,” said Amada Cruz, the Museum’s Sybil Harrington Director. “Mr. Kendrick’s collection transcends the field of sports and honors the art of collecting, and the unique enthusiasm that fuels collectors of every kind.”
Kendrick got his start as a collector as a young boy growing up in small-town West Virginia, purchasing nickel-packs of trading cards on summertime trips to the five-and-dime with his boyhood friends, as much for the bubble gum as for the cards. Kendrick, who grew up playing Little League and listening to baseball games on the radio with his father, began to amass a collection of cards that featured the players he followed during the 1950s. As he got older, he stepped away from collecting cards, only to discover as an adult that his mother had saved the cards he’d collected as a young man.
It was those cards that would be the foundation of a pursuit that has now spanned decades, and would become The Diamondbacks Collection, named in honor of the Arizona team that Kendrick became part owner of in 1995 and managing general partner of in 2004.
The roster of cards that compose the collection includes 16 of the 20 rarest and highly prized trading cards in the history of sports. Kendrick owns a PSA 10 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle and is also the owner of the controversial T206 Honus Wagner PSA 8, once owned by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Kenrick paid $2.8 million for the card in 2007.
The exhibition in Phoenix marks the first time Kendrick’s collection has been exhibited west of the Mississippi. Previously, the exhibition was on view at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York for three years, before closing in 2013.
Along with the thrill of the pursuit of the cards on the path to possession, for Kendrick, the cards represent the love of a game that ultimately tied him to his late father. Today, the collection has become an intergenerational connection for Kendrick and his own children.
“More than anything, baseball was to me one of those great links I had to my father. When I see these cards today, it makes me think back to my youth and most of all, it makes me remember my father, listening to games together on the radio, and sometimes traveling to see Reds games in Cincinnati,” Kendrick recounts. “Today, these cards represent a legacy for my own children. They represent family stories and memories. I’m excited for the collection to be on view at the Museum because I hope it can connect other families together. I hope to see fathers bringing their sons and daughters, grandfathers bringing their grandchildren to come and see the collection, to share their stories and memories with the next generation.”
Museum general admission is $15 for adults and there’s an $8 additional fee to see the card collection.
You can see more cards from the collection in the video below.