Ted Patterson had a long career as a sports broadcaster in Baltimore. But even more impressive is the treasure trove of memorabilia he has accumulated through the years.
“I’ve got like a museum in my home,” Patterson told The Star-Democrat of Easton, Maryland, in 2001.
He wasn’t kidding.
Patterson’s four-bedroom home in Baltimore was filled with sports cards, photographs, autographs, vintage advertising display pieces, game-worn jerseys, scorecards, caps, scorecards, press pins — and much more.
“You name it, and he’s probably got it — somewhere,” the Baltimore Sun reported in 1973.
Patterson, who turned 75 on July 6, has consigned his collection, which took more than five decades to build, to New Jersey-based Love of the Game Auctions. CEO Al Crisafulli said 100 lots will be part of his company’s Summer Auction that will begin in late July, and owner Al Crisafulli said there is enough material to sell deep into 2020.
“It’s going to be fun to bring this stuff to the hobby,” Crisafulli said.
Love of the Game Auctions already has established a website to display Patterson’s items and will be updating it soon. Some of Patterson’s items will be on display during the National Sports Collectors Convention that begins July 31 in Chicago.
Crisafulli has already stored Patterson’s collection and continues to take inventory.
“It’s overwhelming, just overwhelming,” Crisafulli said. “I literally filled a 16-foot box truck and an 8-foot cargo van with his collection.”
How big is Patterson’s collection? Don’t just take Crisafulli’s word for it. Author Jack Gilden, a Baltimore native who grew up watching and listening to Patterson’s broadcasts of Orioles and Colts games, called the collection “just unbelievable,” adding that “while it might sound like hyperbole,” the collection was “the greatest outside of Cooperstown and Canton.”
“He invited me to his house about 15 years ago, and he had baseball cards, jerseys, things that dated to the beginning of baseball,” said Gilden, who wrote Collision of Wills, a look at the conflict between Don Shula and Johnny Unitas when both were with the Baltimore Colts. “He had photographs of every conceivable sport.
“If his house had burned down, it would have been like a thousand dollar bills stuffed in the mattress.”
Crisafulli said some of the key items in the upcoming summer auction will include a Union Leader advertising display of Dizzy Dean and Paul Dean, the program from the first NFL Championship Game in 1933 between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants, a game-worn jersey by kicker and NFL Hall of Famer Lou Groza, Esskay Hot Dogs Orioles sets from 1954 and 1955, a 1976 Red Sox jersey worn by pitcher Luis Tiant, and a 1984 Orioles jersey worn by pitcher Mike Boddicker when he led the American League with 20 wins and a 2.79 ERA.
“It’s just sort of a taste,” said Crisafulli, who added there also would be vintage scorecards, baseball cards, and other items. “It’s a nice assortment.”
Crisafulli said he is going to produce some cards of Patterson interviewing players. For this year’s National, the card will have a 1975 Topps design and will feature a photograph of Patterson interviewing Hank Aaron when the home run king was ending his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. Crisafulli said the card will be slabbed and will be handed out during the PSA set registry luncheon.
Future events will feature another card of Patterson with another key player, Crisafulli said. A good bet would be Patterson paired with Reggie Jackson, his favorite player.
The items in the Love of the Game Summer Auction will not only have some big-ticket items, but also affordable pieces of memorabilia, Crisafulli said.
“It’s filled with stuff everyone can have,” he said.
Patterson said his love for collecting began when he was a child growing up in Mansfield, Ohio.
“I started collecting bubblegum cards in 1952 and didn’t throw them out,” Patterson told the Mansfield News-Journal in a 2005 interview.
Broadcaster, collector, and historian — Patterson wore all three hats.
“He was a walking encyclopedia of sports, and before the internet,” Crisafulli said. “He had this kind of knowledge of the players and the games … well, he’d shock me with the things he knew.”
Crisafulli met Patterson four years ago and was impressed with his knowledge and humility about his collection.
“He wasn’t one of those guys who was quick to brag about who he knew and how famous he was,” Crisafulli said. “It would just come up in conversation.”
Some of Patterson’s collection includes taped interviews with past and present radio and TV broadcasters. The tapes include interviews with Jack Graney, the first batter to face Babe Ruth in the majors in 1914; and Harold Arlin, who called play-by-play for the first baseball radio broadcast in 1921. Those tapes were used to write his master’s thesis at Miami (Ohio) University in 1968. They turned into a pair of books, The Golden Voices of Baseball (published in 2002) and The Golden Voices of Football (2004), which has a foreword by Keith Jackson.
“His tapes are amazing,” Crisafulli said.
Patterson has also written several books about the Orioles, and of football.
Patterson gave Crisafulli a tour of his home the first time they met, and the auction house CEO was stunned by what he saw.
“I was struck by how every room was dominated by memorabilia,” Crisafulli said. “One of his end tables had a collection of World Series pins. There was stuff on top of it, and he picked it up and out of a program fluttered these (1910 E105) Mello-Mint cards of Christy Mathewson and Joe Tinker.”
Most of the collection, however, was orderly and “stored tastefully,” Crisafulli said.
While there were plenty of rare collectibles, Crisafulli said his favorite item from Patterson’s collection was a Nickles Bread advertising poster featuring one-year Cleveland Indians sensation Joe Charboneau.
Patterson was able to accumulate his sports collection (“It’s like treasure hunting,” Crisafulli said) because of his work in television and radio. He got his first taste of broadcasting in 1965, working at WUVD-FM in Dayton a year before graduating as a speech major from the University of Dayton. After a tour in the Army and working for Armed Forces Radio in the late 1960s, Patterson wrote and taped interviews for Curt Gowdy’s radio program, “Inside Sports.”
He began his Baltimore career in 1973 with WBAL, finding out about the opening from former Orioles play-by-play man Ernie Harwell. Seven years later he moved to WMAR. Patterson would become the voice of the Orioles, Colts, and later, an ESPN Radio correspondent at Ravens home games. He also called Navy football games on WNAV radio in Annapolis for 14 seasons.
Getting back to Patterson’s collection …
He has owned game-used jerseys of Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., and Bob Feller, along with 1960s Indians stars Rocky Colavito and Sam McDowell. He also owned the jersey Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse wore the night he was bowled over at home plate by Pete Rose to end the 1970 All-Star Game.
“Ted had the athletes sign a lot of these things,” Crisafulli said. “He’s so filled with stories and everything in his collection has some meaning to it.
“It’s stunning to see the items autographed and personalized to him.”
Crisafulli consigned one of Patterson’s more treasured items, an 1887 pin honoring Harry Stovey, two years ago.
There is more consigning to be done, as Patterson ages and he wants to provide security for his two children and his grandchildren. After the summer auction, Love of the Game will offer Patterson items in auctions after Thanksgiving and in the spring of 2020. Anything left over will be sold at future auctions. Crisafulli believes the Patterson collection will have something for everyone.
“If you’re a fan of historical stuff, you can take a pile of things and put them in your lap and just soak in the history,” Crisafulli said. “His collection that will be shown at the National, well it’s just not another consignment. His work and his hobby were one and the same.
“He collected in a way that I wish … God, I wish everyone would collect that way.”