By Joe Orlando
SMR: When did you start collecting?
JS: I started when I was about 10 years old. I collected cards from the 1960's until about 1967. I had the 1963 Fleer set and other complete sets, mainly Topps, from the decade. I used to work at my father's grocery store and I would take every penny I made and use it to buy baseball cards. I eventually gave my cards to my cousin and his mother threw them out(laughs). I stopped for a while but then, in 1984, I started again. My son was born and I wanted to start a collection for him. It became a passion for me. Now, my son collects autographs and he is not too involved with cards. The fun part was getting him started in the hobby.
SMR: Where there any major events in your collecting life that stick out in your mind?
JS: Definitely. One of the most intriguing parts of my collection is my group of T206's that I acquired not too long ago. I was at the right place at the right time. I had a friend, Neil, who is an expert in stock certificates. A gentleman in his late 70's contacted Neil and Neil proceeded to the gentleman's home. The man showed Neil a stock certificate in a frame because he wanted to sell and find out what it might be worth. Neil informed him that the stock certificate was damaged and that he probably wasn't interested. The gentleman with the certificate then mentioned that he also had some old sportscards that he was trying to sell. Neil gave me the lead and it turned out to be a great one. There were about 630 T206 cards in the group with about three dozen original cigarette boxes from the era and about 1/3 of the cards were in nice shape. I set aside all the cards I thought had a chance at PSA 7's or 8's and then made the deal. I bought the deal for $6,300 or about $10 per card. After selling off what I thought was the lower grade material, which paid for the entire deal, I send the rest to PSA. I received about 49 PSA 7's and a few PSA 8's, the remaining majority came back PSA 6's. A few of the more notable cards were PSA 7's of Chief Bender, Christy Mathewson and Eddie Collins. Overall it was a great deal. The lower grade material paid for the deal and I was left with about $20,000 of sportscards. I was really lucky.
SMR: That's a collector's dream, do you have any other success stories?
JS: There are several but this one is another one that stands out. In 1986, I made a little bet with myself that Cal Ripken would break Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record. At that point, Cal had played every inning of every game. I went out and bought 200,000 Cal Ripken cards and I kept doing that until about 1989, until all the chase cards starting popping up all over the place. Eventually, those Ripken cards turned into a lot of trade bait and I have been able to use that bait to complete a lot of sets over the years. I have complete sets dating back to 1959 and I am very close to completing sets from 1955-1958.
SMR: What else do you collect?
JS: I collect football, basketball, hockey and some non-sports cards. I really enjoy the artwork on the vintage non-sports issues, there may be some potential with these cards but we will have to wait and see. One of my favorite non-sports issues is the Power for Peace set that came out in the 1950's.
SMR: Do you have any favorites?
JS: I have a few. I really enjoy my 1955 Topps set. It's not quite complete but it does include a nice selection of high-grade cards. My T206 cards mean a lot to me. I wasn't really going after the set but the way I acquired them was so fun that the cards have a special place in my collection. Last, but not least, I have a few Mickey Mantle cards from the 1960's that graded PSA 8. They are the 1960 Topps All-Star card and the 1966 Topps regular card.
SMR: What do see in your collecting future?
JS: I will continue my goal of completing sets but my focus has always been to buy collections where value exists. For instance, I would rather buy another collection of various cards or one that includes sets I don't own than pay strong money for a few high-number stars in the 1961 Topps set. I try for bulk when I can get it. I have never been the type of person that needs to aggressively pursue one card or one set in an auction, I just want to make sure I get a decent value. I love collecting and finding the old stuff at a reasonable price. It's always fun for me.
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If you are a collector of sports memorabilia or cards and would like to be featured in our monthly column entitled "Collector Profile," please fill out the form below and a member of our staff will personally contact you. We feature collectors with all types of interests and collections of all different sizes. It doesn't matter if your collection is worth $2 or $2,000,000; we would like to talk to you. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 800-325-1121 or email [email protected]. The staff at Sportscard Market Report would like to thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, Joe Orlando - Editor
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