My life as a baseball card and memorabilia dealer was born in weekend card shows during the 1980s. The Don Mattingly rookie card craze had begun to swell in the Midwest, and there were frequent opportunities to buy, sell and trade in shows that populated school gyms, shopping malls, and other rented facilities.
Like many dealers, I started sort of small and usually only had one table or space. But that proved to be a boon in many ways. Not the least of which was how people with items to sell would often look for the least busy dealer. This was to allow them to “get in and get out” quickly. One show, I was the first table after the “admission” table (oh yes, people sometimes paid to attend the ), and a person walked in with a brown paper grocery bag of items. It was filled with seven Louisville Slugger mini-bat banks. These were the banks with the bats that had individual player names on the mini-bats. We struck a deal after only a few minutes, they thanked me profusely and turned around and left! They came to sell and they left happy. Ah, those were fun days.
One of the most frequent questions from those early days is still an often asked query of me today. That often-asked question is, “Is this worth collecting?”
My answer has always been prefaced with another question: “What do you mean by ‘worth’?” Sure, I know they usually are trying to find out if the item(s) has any monetary value in the eyes of others (particularly me if I am buying). However, there have been several through the years who have actually been trying to determine if the object they own or desire is “worth” possessing. And that answer is always personal.
What makes a collection “collectible” is the desire of the collector to collect the items in the collection. One of my favorite memories along these lines has nothing to do with my own beloved baseball memorabilia. Rather, it is the memory of a young man (a 4th grade student when we met) who had a passion for collecting advertising pens. I never did know why. But he truly enjoyed obtaining as many different pens as he could. When I last saw him, and he is pretty much full grown now, he still had the collection…and they still made him smile! That was definitely a collection “worth” having.
Much like art, a collection’s beauty is in the eye of the beholder, uh, collector. After all, one dictionary defines a collectible as “an item valued and sought by collectors. ” Which brings me to an interesting item.
When I was in high school and on the debate team, one of my favorite resources for quotes was the Congressional Record. The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. It was a great resource and really opened my eyes to all the various issues mentioned in Congress (this was before C-SPAN, of course, way before).
The Congressional Record consists of four sections: the House section, the Senate section, the Extensions of Remarks, and, since the 1940s, the Daily Digest. At the back of each daily issue is the Daily Digest, which summarizes the day’s floor and committee activities and serves as a table of contents for each issue. The House and Senate sections contain proceedings for the separate chambers of Congress.
The section of the Congressional Record titled Extensions of Remarks contains speeches, tributes and other extraneous words that were not actually uttered during open proceedings of the full Senate or of the full House of Representatives. But they have been entered in to the official record ostensibly for the members of Congress to read when they are able.
What this has to do with baseball memorabilia is bound up in my title. It is true that collectibles are where you find them, and you may find them even in the Congressional Record. A recent collection of vintage items that we purchased had a significant section of things related to the Hall of Fame shortstop, Harold “Pee Wee” Reese. In the midst of the autographed photos and press releases and programs was a simple, well-preserved piece of paper measuring about 6 inches by 9 inches. It is a page from the Congressional Record of July 18, 1955. It reads:
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 84th CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION
Harold “Pee Wee” Reese
EXTENSION OF REMARKS
HON. FRANCIS E. DORN
OF NEW YORK IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Monday, July 18, 1955
Mr. DORN of New York. Mr. Speaker, on the night of July 22 the people of Brooklyn will pay high honor to an adopted son. Thousands of grateful citizens will gather at Ebbets Field, home of one of the greatest baseball teams the Nation’s popular pastime has ever known, to present their affectionate salute to a young man who has rendered exemplary service to youth, and the parents of our Nation.
I speak of Harold “Pee Wee” Reese, star shortstop of the Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball Club. “Pee Wee” Reese is an illustrious son of the great State of Kentucky, who, for almost two-score years, has been an inspirational example of sports at its best.
“Pee Wee” Reese night at Brooklyn might well be observed in every hamlet and home throughout the Nation.
For “Pee Wee” stands as a symbol of all the fine and decent men who participate in the great sport of baseball and give our male youth the incentive to mold themselves into similar specimens of responsible manhood.
His inspirational stature transcends the ﬁeld of sports.
Not only is he a model athlete and top competitor and sportsman, but he is a citizen who finds time to take part in the affairs of his community and gives of his energy to help those who cannot help themselves.
“Pee Wee” Reese has fulfilled a noble featured role in the contemporary drama of this generation. His contribution to our continuing battle to keep our youth from falling into the morass of delinquency is immeasurable.
On the occasion of his being honored with a civic testimonial of affection by the good people of Brooklyn, I am sure the Congress of the United States will want to join in presenting their very best wishes and appreciative accolade to “Pee Wee” Reese who wears No. 1 on his uniform and is No. 1 in the minds and hearts of many baseball fans throughout the world.
I am certain that other ball players have been so honored. In fact, there may be someone who collects items entered into the Congressional Record specifically about athletes or specific ball players. If so, they already know that collectibles are where you find them.