This article also appears in the Dec. 1999 PSA Sportscard Market Report
Marshall Fogel collects arrowheads, guns and other things but he has assembled a sports memorabilia collection worthy of its own museum. In fact, Fogel has donated his time and museum-quality collection to several charities so people can enjoy his collection without paying a fee. From baseball cards to original photos to game used bats and more, Fogel has formed a mountain of baseball history that is unmatched in the hobby. His focus on condition and quality is probably the most intriguing aspect of his vast collection. It would be hard to imagine forming a collection of this magnitude in any condition let alone one that is top notch across the board.
Fogel's instinct, love for the game of baseball and personal appreciation for quality have been most responsible for his incredible accumulation of sports collectibles. When others questioned his motive and strategy, Fogel began his quest for fine items when his collecting desire was rejuvenated by an appearance at the 1989 National Sports Convention. He loved it and the rest is history. "I was like a vacuum cleaner.," Fogel explains with a laugh. "I was called an idiot in the 80's and I am considered a genius in the 90's." "This hobby makes me feel like a kid again," Fogel says. "I still get a thrill from getting a package in the mail, it's like the feeling of opening a pack of baseball cards as a boy. You can't wait to see what's inside." I am sure most collectors would like to see what arrives in those packages.
Q:What is it about the hobby that appeals to you so much and why do you collect with such a passion?
A:I don't look at baseball cards as merely baseball cards. I look at them as art. Baseball cards freeze time. A card from the 30's looks, feels and smells like the 30's. It takes you back in time. Imagine the thresholds of horror that some of these high-grade cards had to go through to eventually land in a PSA 8 holder, it's amazing.
Q:What are some of your personal favorites?
A:As far as cards go, I really enjoy my 1952 and 1953 Topps Mickey Mantle cards that are both PSA graded Gem Mint 10. I also really like my 1941 Play Ball Joe Dimaggio PSA 9 and, believe it or not, my 1952 Topps Smokey Burgess card. I just wonder where the photographer was when that shot was taken. As far as memorabilia, I have an original photo of Lou Gehrig that was taken just as the public address announcer told the crowd that Lou would not be able to play any more. Just looking at Lou's face tells the story, the photo evokes so much emotion. I also have a scorecard from the last game of Gehrig's famous consecutive game streak. Some other items include the original photo used for the T-206 Wagner card, the only known photo of the 1869 Reds, a Lou Gehrig game used bat from the day he hit four homers in a game and I just completed the 1938 Goudey set in PSA 8s across the board. There are just so many items.
Q:Is there anything you would like to change about the hobby?
A:I would like to dispel the myth that guys who spend a lot of money on quality items are simply doing it for investment and lack the knowledge other collectors do. I love the game of baseball as much as anyone does. I was just like every other kid of my generation. We all wanted to play centerfield for the New York Yankees and be Mickey Mantle. One guy might spend $100,000 on a card and another guy might spend only $100. The perception is that the guy who buys low-grade stuff is the real collector. I guarantee you that the guy who spends more loves the hobby just as much as the other guy. You have to love this hobby first if you want to enjoy it. It really comes down to taste and what you can afford.
Q:Why is authentication such a vital part of the collecting industry?
The hobby can become very complicated and it is very intimidating, there is a lot to know. Having your collectibles authenticated by PSA or PSA/DNA helps the hobby work like a well-oiled machine. Authentication helps collectors feel more comfortable about what they are buying and that helps dealer sales. Collectors have confidence in the service that PSA provides because they are consistent and have strict standards.
Q:Finally, how much longer do you want to collect and do you have plans to sell your collection?
A: Well, I have already sold my duplicates. Now the only duplicates I have left are my kids (laughs). I have no plans to stop anytime soon but, eventually, I will probably sell my collection. My kids do not have the passion for collecting that I do. What was once a link to my past will soon be my kid's trash.