News and notes: As the photographs reveal, I ran into the usual array of world-class artwork in Cleveland, including an opportunity to meet Graig Kreindler (www.graigkreindler.com), who figures to be in great demand from serious collectors of baseball art as the word gets around of his prowess. He had his own booth at the show, with more than a dozen original paintings on display, many so arresting (shown) that they would stop collectors in their tracks no matter how frantically they were scurrying around the IX Center.
Nathalie Rattner, another remarkable artist whose work has graced the pages of SCD, didn’t have her own booth at the show but her ultra-realistic black-and-white work was prominently displayed near the front entrance of the show. And despite the fact that I wrote a feature story about her several months back and featured a whole bunch of her drawings, I still got fooled at the table by the incredible talent of the 26-year-old Rattner. With three different drawings, I thought I was looking at vintage photography, even though I had already recognized that it was her work being presented. If it were any other artist, I would simply kick myself for being obtuse; in her case, I forgive myself unreservedly for making the error.
I was absolutely thrilled when Dr. Jim Beckett stopped by our SCD booth at the show over the weekend. I could kick myself for not getting a photograph; the hobby pioneer looked decidedly unpioneer-like, seeming to have improved with age while I, on the other hand, am apparently going downhill fast. He conceded that his virtual retirement from the day-to-day demands of directing the Beckett publishing empire has left him looking (and feeling) like a million bucks.
He didn’t have much to show for his tour around the show floor, noting instead that he had been having a lot of fun in recent months going through old boxes of stuff he bought years ago, sometimes finding material he hadn’t looked at in nearly four decades. The only thing I’ve got that old and that unexamined is my conscience.
Another of my favorite people in the hobby, long-time show promoter, dealer and player agent Dick Gordon, regaled me with some of his own stories about famous show guests. Most notably and recently, Gordon talked about Carl Yastrzemski, who ended a near-decade-long string of skipping the festivities on induction weekend at Cooperstown by showing up two weeks ago for the induction of former teammate Jim Rice.
Gordon pointed out that Yaz will be doing his first public signing in many years when he shows up at the Hilton Hotel in Woburn, Mass., on Nov. 14. I suspect that his last such venture was at Gordon’s spectacular reunion of the 1967 Red Sox club at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut two years ago.
Another veteran dealer, Joce Kaligis, explained to me that he had taught German to one of our columnists many years ago as a high school teacher. Kelly Eisenhauer, Mickey Mantle collector extraordinaire and the author of the ongoing Guide to Mickey Mantle Collectibles Series this year (and probably into next) in the pages of SCD was the lucky student. No grade was reported, but when one considers the precision and exactness that Eisenhauer applies to the Mantle Series, envisioning an “A” doesn’t seem too farfetched.
Kaligis also told me a neat story about many years before that when he was working as a teacher at a school for the blind near St. Louis. “We took the kids to a game and the players allowed them to touch their faces and uniforms to feel the texture and get that unique “look” from the moment,” said Kaligis. He mentioned specifically stars like Ken Boyer and others who were so agreeable and solicitous to the youngsters, permitting a degree of intimacy that’s hard to imagine in modern times.
With all the discussion about steroids and PEDs these days, it was almost quaint to see some of the original pastel artwork at John and Judy Burk’s Collectible Classics table. The drawings were from the official courtroom artist nearly 25 years ago as nearly a dozen major leaguers – including several Pirates – testified to a grand jury about cocaine and amphetmine use in the major leagues. The Burks had original drawings of Dave Parker and John Milner testifying, and even though the Burk’s table was just around the corner from our SCD booth, I didn’t notice if any Cleveland-area collectors had decided to seed their art collection with such retro historical renderings. I would have thought any of those pastel drawings would make cool autographed items, assuming you could get the player to sign.
Speaking of autographs, at one point a collector approched me and asked
me to autograph an O’Connell & Son Ink card of Henry Aaron, which I
quickly obliged. Those cards I produced 25 years or so ago show up now
and then at the larger vintage shows, and more often at the National,
and I saw a handful of them at different tables over the weekend. I
signed in the upper left-hand corner; he’ll try to get Henry in the
lower right. I told the collector that with my signature a freebie it
should lower the overall cost of trying the get The Hammer, but of
course I can’t escape the realization that he’d do better from a
financial standpoint if he had put Henry on it alone.
I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself about autograph values,
since I saw a huge stack of Joe Sewell personal checks and autographed
8-by-10s, complete with startlinging modest prices, or a box of
single-signed Official Major League baseballs at $6 apiece or 10 for
$40. The list of names available included the likes of Paul Blair,
Felix Milan, Al Oliver, Davey Johnson, Rico Carty, Roy Sievers, Mo
Vaughn, Tom Tresh, Ryan Klesko, and my personal favorite, Joe Pepitone.
I concede it’s very possible that by the time I peeked at the massive
pile that such luminaries as those listed above had already been
And it’s not just small stuff from non-Hall of Famers: how this for
a bargain: a 30-by-40-inch autographed photo from Pete Rose for $35. I
know he’s technically not a Hall of Famer, but come on!
Noted autograph expert Phil Marks as always has a pile of
seldom-seen signatures, most prominently this time a Jimmie Foxx
business card. The Hall of Famer, who had a number of post-playing days
careers, including managing at the University of Miami and the
All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, apparently worked for
the State of Ohio Employment Service in 1954 and was given a business
card where his name was filled in on a blank. Sounds perfect for a
really tough Hall of Fame autograph.
Final note on the business card front. As is traditional at the
National, I came home with nearly 100 of those, including one where I
had asked the man for his business card, and he promptly handed me one
that said simply, “My Card.”