By Rich Klein
Many times I use things that happen at my now “real-life” job as an inspiration for these articles. Although I’m transitioning to a new position, I still have my old manager for the entire month of May. Of course, much of my work has been taken away and it’s just time for the long goodbye. On top of that, my manager and his wife are taking off for a week to Puerto Rico, which conjured up memories of a strong contender for the worst show I ever attended during my days at Beckett.
When I was assigned this trip to San Juan back in the early 1990s, the show was actually being advertised as a 400 table show with tons of dealers throughout the United States coming to sell their wares. In addition, I was sent specifically because I had been dealer of “oddball” type sets in years past. I loved picking up type cards and sets for our library and cataloging efforts and Puerto Rico seemed like a great place to do some of that. So, I was excited to head off to the show and in addition, was even happier because it was split into two parts each way, which added to my American Airlines frequent miler account. So with a virtually all expense paid trip to the sun and sand with baseball cards as the backdrop, I was really looking forward to it.
Well, I got off the flight, checked into the hotel and got ready to attend the show. In addition, I had extra money in my pocket to buy all those cards I was going to find. There was a sneak preview on Friday Night so I wandered over to the show, paid my admission and asked the promoter where the rest of the dealers were. Only a few were set up but I was assured more would be coming in tomorrow so I went back to my room and got ready for what I hoped would be a long day at the show on Saturday.
Saturday morning came and yes, all of two more dealers showed up to sell their wares. Needless to say, by about 9 AM Central time I called the office, spoke to Dr. Beckett, explained what had happened, apologized for wasting our company money and asked what my next move should be for the next day and an half. Of course, I was shocked when Dr. Beckett said: “Go to the beach and enjoy your next day or so”.
I’m not really a beach person so instead of that, I had my list of local sports card stores and found a bilingual cab driver. I told him I would pay him $50 and asked him to create the best route to all those stores. I still could hardly find anything to buy; however, I did get a great tour of shops in San Juan.
For the next several years, the Puerto Rico show trip came up as one of our department’s biggest wastes of money but Dr. Beckett always defended my actions as being honest as I had prepared a backup plan in case the show was not all that was advertised (true) and also had a fixed amount to pay for how to get where I needed to get with an interpreter tossed in.
I do not think I have ever seen another big show advertised for Puerto Rico and I don’t think except for vacations, anyone from Beckett ever went back to Puerto Rico. In those days we were also writing show reports so I dropped a line about Mary Pierce’s dad into the report and no one really caught what I was saying there either. Mary Pierce was a very fine tennis player– with a major stage dad.
There are two other aspects of this trip which I remember vividly. The first was doing the Tomahawk Chop with some Atlanta Braves fans while watching Game six of the World Series. The Chop, in 1991 was like the Tigers’ wave in 1984 and something fresh and exciting that year. The other thing I remember was that I was so tired when I got back to Dallas on that I fell asleep around the 7th inning of game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I completely missed the World-Series winning at-bat of fellow Columbia grad Gene Larkin. It took until the 1992 Score factory set to be released to come up with a Larkin World Series card and it’s one of the few I have managed to keep over the past 20 years as no one other than me wants that card.
I’m kind of curious about the market these days in Puerto Rico and still waiting for a good reason for a follow up trip to San Juan but I suspect that day is a long way off.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]