Baseball card collecting is one of the dominant themes in the new motion picture, Diminished Capacity, but not everyone associated with the hobby is thrilled by how card dealers are portrayed in the film.
In the movie, a Chicago journalist suffering from memory loss (played by Matthew Broderick) takes leave from his job and returns to his rural hometown, where he bonds with his Alzheimer’s-impaired uncle Rollie (played by Alan Alda) and his old flame (Virginia Madsen). The trio heads to a card show in the city, where Rollie hopes to sell a rare baseball card that has gained the attention of some collectors intent on scheming the old man out of a potential fortune.
The notion of dealers trying to pay as little as possible for valuable cards has been used before in the movies (as in the 1999 film Blast From The Past), but in this film, the primary no-good dealer character goes by the name “The Mint-Mint Man,” a parody of well-known vintage card dealer Alan “Mr Mint” Rosen. The Mint-Mint Man’s show display features a photo of him fanning out a wad of cash, similar to images Rosen has used for years to promote himself at shows.
Director Terry Kinney told the New York Daily News that The Mint-Mint Man’s sign and nickname were inspired by a research trip to a card show, where he saw Rosen’s “Mr. Mint” booth and his trademark wads-of-dough portrait. Rosen told the Daily News that he wasn’t happy with the suggestion that he operates in the same way as the character in the movie.
“They ripped off my persona, my character,” Rosen told the paper. “I have a corny act, like a pro wrestling character, that I spent many years and millions of dollars establishing, and they stole it from me.” Rosen said he contacted an attorney to see if there was a legal avenue to pursue, but his attorneys told him he didn’t have a case.
“They portray the character as dishonest and that bothers me,” Rosen says. “I am 100 percent honest. I don’t take advantage of old men like the guy in the movie. I’m a huckster, but I’m also an honest guy.”
Check out more on this story in the Aug. 1, 2008, issue of Sports Collectors Digest.