ric Matthew Rass is a buyer and planner for the Calphalon Corporation of Toledo, OH and the President of the Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association. What really defines Eric, however, is his collection of EMU memorabilia.
Eric recently invited SMR to his Livonia, Michigan home to share the treasures he has amassed pertaining to players and the athletic programs of his Alma Mater.
SMR: You have a very impressive collection of items pertaining to Eastern Michigan University. What does your collection specifically consist of?
EMR: I collect anything pertaining to former EMU player Charlie Batch. I also have over 50 game-worn jerseys and equipment of other former EMU players. I have EMU football and basketball media guides and programs dating back to the 1920s; over 50 game-worn helmets of Mid-American Conference teams, and hundreds of cards from former EMU athletes who went on to play professionally.
SMR: How did you get started in collecting EMU memorabilia?
EMR: I started out collecting cards as a kid, but by the time I was finishing college, in the early 1990s, I started to loose interest in cards. There just seemed to be too many sets coming out. I had just received my undergraduate degree from EMU and had started my first job. I had always loved going to EMU football and basketball games, and now that I was getting paychecks, I decided to try my hand at collecting EMU game-worn jerseys and equipment. From that moment on, I was hooked on memorabilia pertaining to EMU athletics.
SMR: Do you have a favorite item in your collection?
EMR: I have many favorite items, but the pride and joy of my collection is Charlie Batch's game-worn EMU football jerseys and pants, one of his game-worn rookie Detroit Lions jerseys from 1998 and the Thanksgiving Day "Throwback" jersey he wore in 2001. I also love a game-worn EMU helmet signed by the 1987 MAC Champs and California Bowl Champs football team; a George "The Iceman" Gervin game-worn Chicago Bulls jersey from his last year in the NBA (1985-86), and an Early Boykins' Cleveland Cavaliers rookie jersey.
I'm also rather proud of the fact that I own every EMU football media guide from 1954 through 2002; every EMU helmet dating back to the late 1960s, and Al Day's 1960 Fleer card. Day played for the Denver Broncos and was the first former EMU player to ever appear on a professional team's card.
SMR: Are there any items that you are actively searching for to add to your collection?
EMR: There are still a lot of professional jerseys I need from former EMU players. EMU had three former players that played for the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty teams of the 1970's. If I could obtain a jersey of John Banaszak, Ron Johnson, or Reggie Garrett, that would be awesome! I would also love to find (and be able to afford) a PSA 10 of George Gervin's 1974-75 Topps rookie card.
SMR: How is your collection displayed?
EMR: I have a finished basement, so much of my collection is displayed there. Unfortunately, due to a lack of space, a tremendous amount of my collection is stored in boxes. I also set up displays at EMU athletic events and gatherings so my fellow alumni can see my prized possessions and take pride in EMU's rich, athletic history.
SMR: What do you enjoy most about collecting?
EMR: First, I love the "hunt". EMU memorabilia is not as prevalent as items from larger institutions, so you have to do more searching than one might have to for other schools. When you do find something, however, it is very rewarding. I am also grateful for the relationships and friendships I have made in the hobby. I have established wonderful contacts that are always on the lookout for EMU memorabilia on my behalf. Even though I don't really collect cards anymore, I still find it hard to resist buying packs when I see them on a counter at a local store. It is still a thrill for me to open them up and see what's inside. In addition, attending the "National" is an annual "must" for me. Even if I don't find anything, it is still one of the highlights of my year.
SMR: What sources do you use to find items for your collection?
EMR: I use a variety of sources including Internet auctions and collector sites, printed publications, and the contacts that I have established across the country. In addition, I keep close ties to the EMU athletic department and will often acquire items through them.
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