By Rich Klein
Recently, beloved radio morning personality David “Kidd” Kraddick passed on while at a golf tournament for his favorite charity. During the years Kidd was on the air, he used his position on the air to help countless others far less fortunate then he was. In addition, like many morning radio personalities, he built a bond with his local listeners and created a deep emotional connection. I know, when I heard the tape of Harry Harrison (New York’s Morning Mayor), the tears dwelled into my eyes and that was 13 years after I left the NY Metropolitan listening area. These men, and countless others, became part of our lives.
And for those of us who may not listen to the radio but are collectors, these cards and memorabilia we collect are also part of our lives. Many collectors come back into the hobby after the “20 year absence” with the purpose of regaining a piece of their childhood. For many of us, collecting cards as children was something we did with other kids as we traded, played and even enjoyed messing around with these cards.
Coming back into the hobby is our deep emotional connection to our past. When people brought in collections to various stores I worked at in the 1980’s, I often bet I could guess their age within a year just by looking at their childhood collection. I was right about 95 percent of the time because I used a real simple formula. Take a collection of 1958-61 cards, figure out what year had the most cards and then use their biggest stack of cards was garnered at the age of 10. So, if you have the most cards from 1960, you were born in 1950 and today you would be 63 years old. Simple enough but almost everyone was impressed at that simple logic.
Kidd Kraddick was a part of many people’s lives (including my wife who listened to him every day on the way to work for the past several years) and baseball cards have been a part of my life ever since I was seven years old. To each of us, losing things related to our past always hurts. If you remember the classic movie Citizen Kane, the word “rosebud” had to do with the burning of his childhood sled. Kane spent the rest of his life buying items but never was able to find the one item he lost in his youth.
For those of us who listened to Kidd Kraddick, there will always be some audio which we can listen to which remind us of the great talent we will miss. And for me, there are always more 1968 Topps cards (the first year I actively collected) to see that I can enjoy. Sites such as COMC which show you fronts and backs of cards is a treasure which enable us not only to purchase cards from a variety of vendors but also to look at both sides of a card. Just as when we were kids, we read the backs of the cards and remember the smallest details; the little cartoons, the stats and hometowns.
As many of our readers know, one of my constant themes is to enjoy the present while always honoring the past. Kidd Kraddick passed on while doing what he loved and although some of my friends are no longer around, columns such as this keep the memories alive. I’m glad to know people appreciate my digging up those old stories.
The last time I was at Nick’s Sports Cards in Dallas, he mentioned what it was like surviving the 1994 baseball strike; the terrible football draft and no Michael Jordan in basketball. With excellent customer service and a willingness to help collectors, Nick survived, adapted and thrived. Nick’s store is perfectly set up for how the market is in 2013. Lots of cards you can touch, lots of wax, and focusing on the cards collectors want: stars, pack hits and vintage. Nick has adapted and thrived from the hobby glory days all the way to today’s changed landscape. Jim Valvano used the ‘survive and advance’ term in 1983 when NC State won an improbable NCAA basketball title. I have heard many hobby people and advisers use the term ‘adapt and thrive’. Helping others will only help us advance and thrive both as people and as hobbyists. If there is a chance to “pay it forward” please take the opportunity to do so to help everyone else.