by Rich Klein
To me, one of the best aspects of the past two National Conventions in Baltimore has been the proximity to the New York Metropolitan area where I grew up. Baltimore is so reasonably close to New York that many of my friends from that era are able to make the Baltimore trip with ease. One of my friends is Karen Morris, sister of long-time dealer Brian Morris. Karen and her husband came down to relive old memories and we all had a very nice chat during the show. Her final words to me were “I’ve been looking forward to seeing all the originals from the era where Brian and I used to regularly set up at shows. You are the final original I wanted to see.”
That got to me to thinking the other day when I heard the news that Michael L. Gordon, one of the promoters of the 1984 National Convention at the Aspen Hotel in Parsippany, N. J. had passed away from the effects of a stroke. Mike was a good friend of mine, and in the 1980’s we attended many shows together because he literally had to pass by my house on the way to a show. We always figured the more company the better and we drove together to many shows at Albany’s Polish Community Center in New York and one show in King of Prussia. PA.
One of my favorite stories from those trips to Albany was Mike purchased 1954, 1955 and 1957 Topps sets from the same collector. These three sets included some of the most beautiful cards I had ever seen and after Mike compared them to the cards in his own collection, he put them out for sale. They went fast. By the way… the purchase price for these three sets was $1250.
When I heard the news I dashed off a quick email to his wife and she informed me that Mike had not been doing well for the past year but he passed away at home and she felt blessed by that. I did not find out about his passing until a couple of evenings after he left us as my good friend Mel Solomon was attempting to urgently reach me. I finally spoke to Mel and he informed me that he was on his way home from Mike’s house. During my conversation with Mel, he told me that much of his inventory had been severely damaged by super storm Sandy. Mel was very upset over the situation but I did explain to him that he had many options and would be all right no matter what he did. He purchased from a walk-in at the Baltimore convention a group of cards that could be charitably called poor at best and within a few hours had actually turned a profit on those cards. He realized that he would sell those cards at lower prices in the future but they would sell the next time he did a show.
Mel thus becomes the second person I have heard of who lost a lot of cardboard treasures due Hurricane Sandy. I’m sure there are many more and while these issues are small compared to the sheer damage in places such as the Rockways and the Jersey Shore, needless to say who knows what collectibles were permanently lost during the weather event.
And I was also thinking about one other “original” recently. Unlike most fans, I’m actually enjoying the NHL lockout because the NHL network is running many historical specials. One of the specials the network is running is a feature on the 1994 New York Rangers ending their 54 year streak without winning a Stanley Cup. During the documentary, many interviews with fans are interspersed. One of the long-time fans interviewed is Buddy Kurzweil. Buddy was one of the two founders of Sports Corner, which was the first baseball card store. He and his partner in the store the late Rick Barudin probably saw more cards come in during the 1970’s then anyone can imagine. A side not about Rick was he was an active EBay seller but sadly passed away while in the middle of several transactions. I remember contacting the people who left him negatives and once they realize he had passed on, they tried to change the negatives but he was forever stuck with them. Hopefully EBay has new policies in place so that type of thing either doesn’t happen or can be rectified.
And as for Buddy, I remember during my Beckett years, we were trying to create something like a top 20 hobby event list for the baseball magazine. I brought up the first baseball card store in America. I discussed the location and what Buddy, the surviving owner, was doing now with his store meant and I interviewed him for the feature. Talk about getting true original stories about the early days of the organized hobby!
A few other random notes:
- I wrote a few weeks back about the slowness of my sales at COMC.Com in October. I’m very happy to say that my new inventory did hit at the end of the month and my sales have been very strong ever since then. In addition, COMC has begun an aggressive advertising campaign in all the Beckett publications as well as attending more shows. Both of these are good signs not only for the present sales but also for the future growth of the company. Remember we said change was going to be difficult but COMC is doing the best they can to deal with both their growth as well as adjusting their web site. They’re running a major Black Friday promotion this week.
- I recently received an email from Evan Thompson, the person whose unfortunate collision with Joe White on the softball field of the National many years ago ended up with me taking Joe to the hospital and the doctor asking him “Does your father want to come with you to the x-ray room?”. I’d still be proud to have Joe as my son and Evan said reading that article reminded him of the good days at Beckett.
- I was told that the local Dallas-area show was much better in November at their new location and the promoters have done a much better job with specific information as to location of show, times, etc.
- Some of you may wonder why there have not been any box reviews from Topps recently. Well, considering their offices were in the part of New York that took a direct hit from Sandy, I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to be shipping any out for awhile. I will also state that if any representatives of other card manufacturers wish to send me boxes to review I’m always happy to do so as well as sending links to you from the finished reviews. There is no better feeling in the hobby then busting a box and then being able to write about that is pretty darned fun and hopefully educational for collectors who are thinking of making a purchase.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected] .