Like Father, Like Son: The Robbies on Life, Family, and The Hobby

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Caitlin Corsetti
Jun 14, 2023

Robbie Davis Sr. always envisioned running a business with his son. What he couldn’t imagine was running a sports memorabilia and card shop so successful that it ended up on not one but two television shows—the 2012 series Ball Boys and the 2023 hit Netflix show King of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch.

Nestled in Timonium, Maryland just outside of Baltimore, Robbie’s First Base has been a town staple for 34 years. The shop is full of remarkable treasures where professional athletes and collectors alike pop by to chat with Robbie Sr. and his namesake, Robbie Davis Jr.

They seem more like old friends, with a passion for collectibles and sports, delightful banter, and arguments over who’s the better athlete. This father-son duo highlights what makes the Hobby so special in the first place.

It’s not just about the collectibles—it’s about the connection.

So, what’s their secret?

Senior chuckles, “People ask that all the time. But I don’t know. We’re just cut from a different cloth. Because it’s just family.”

And to him, “Family means everything. That’s the one thing you can take to the bank. Everything else is superficial. Family is real to me. Doesn't make it right, but to me, that's how I interpret it. And you do anything for your family and they'll do anything for you. And there's no demarcation line. It's just the way it is. And I've lived that way forever. And when I leave here, I'll be living that way.”

Senior lost his own father, a professional boxer, when he was very young. During a match in New York, he got knocked out — back in those days, concussion protocol didn’t exist — and a few days later, he was gone at just 27. 

Senior credits his mother, left in grief to raise four kids, for instilling that sense of unity. “I think that's the reason why we're so close. Because of the loss that we had at an early age by me losing my dad like that and the relationship I have with my mom. And I guess, and I think that carried over to how I am right now.”

It wasn’t even a question that Senior’s family would be close when he became a father of his own. He says the bond was always there. He and his wife were “obsessed” with their children and took them everywhere. He laughs, adding, “We told everybody, don’t invite us to anything if my kids can’t go.”

And he wasn’t kidding. When his friend Eddie Murray — yes, the legendary Baltimore Orioles first baseman — invited Senior to his no-kids wedding in California, they made arrangements to ensure Junior was with them. They brought along Senior’s mother as a babysitter and one of Junior’s friends, “So now, instead of getting two tickets, I got five tickets.”

Eddie Murray was such a good friend, that Senior named part of the shop after him. “I named it after Robbie, my son. And First Base, Eddie Murray played first base.”

Originally, Senior sold cars with his business partner who happened to collect sports cards. They started putting baseball cards out at the dealerships, and after seeing what people would do to get their hands on cards, they opened Robbie’s First Base.

From cars to cards, Junior got to see his father in action. He saw how his dad treated everyone the way he wanted to be treated—with respect and kindness. Like a sponge, he absorbed his dad’s knowledge of sports and deal-making. He admits, “As a kid, I didn’t necessarily appreciate it probably as much as I should have because I thought it was normal, you know, I thought that’s what everybody did.”

Junior certainly appreciates it now, especially when he sees people he knew as a kid come into Robbie’s First Base with their own children to collect cards. That full-circle moment surprised him, but he enjoys seeing fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons share the Hobby.

And Junior continues sharing the Hobby with his own kids. His daughter collects Pokémon cards, although both Junior and Senior admit they don’t quite get how those cards go up in value. Senior is genuinely curious, “I mean, did Pikachu do anything?” But it goes to show that it doesn’t matter what someone is collecting, the Hobby is that thing that brings people together.

As for Junior’s son, “He's only six, but he has pretty much the exact same interests that I have and had as a kid, which was the same as my dad's interests as a kid.”

It doesn’t hurt that the Davis family is full of athletes. Senior boasts, “We’re all good at sports.” He played baseball in high school and the Army, and although Junior was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers, Senior says, “I tell him I was better. And I’m the only one that knows because I’ve seen both of us play. But I can say that. And he's a great athlete. It's no question. But I still think I'm better.”

They roar with laughter—this is a debate they have often.

Senior pauses and nonchalantly tosses out, “But he probably was better than me.”

It’s a shocking admission to Junior’s ears, but he laments, “For the sake of this Father's Day interview, we're going to let him be the better athlete, right?”

This is their every day.

At 73-years-old, Robbie Davis Sr. says, “I’m still living the dream. I still got my kids right here with me every day. I told you, I get up in the morning, kiss my wife, I come to work and my kids are here with me every day. And then what I do, I go home and just do the exact same thing again.”

And it never gets old.

Looking for Father's Day gifts? Head over to Goldin, where you'll find gifts that are perfect for pops—from incredible cards to jaw-dropping memorabilia.

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