By Ross Forman
Richard L. Quint Jr., was a childhood baseball player who has grown into a senior citizen fan of the game, living in Walnut Creek, Calif., and serving as the CEO of Quint Measuring Systems.
“As a kid, I played pinball, including the baseball game, which I loved,” said Quint, 70, a devout San Francisco Giants fan. “I have long told my wife, Carol, that I thought I could build a great baseball pinball machine.”
So about 10 years ago he purchased two vintage pinball machines to use as models for his then-future venture. But those two machines sat around for the next seven years – until about three years ago, when Quint went to work.
“What I really wanted to make was a mechanical game with no electronics because all I heard was, mothers were sick and tired of their kids playing with electronic games,” he said.
The result, launched in Chicago this summer at the 34th National Sports Collectors Convention, is Quint Premier Baseball Games – a collectible, non-electric, vintage-style mechanical baseball pinball game. Built for two players, each game is numbered and signed by Quint, the creator and developer.
“The thing I wanted was something different from the old pinball games, which were about 20 inches wide,” Quint said. “What I had always wanted was to build a game that two people could play nine innings of baseball (against each other), just as baseball is played in the sandlot and at the greatest stadiums in the world. There wasn’t a game that I had ever seen that had achieved that.
“And I thought I could build it.”
The Quint Premier Baseball Game is an eye-popping 41-by-41 inches, and it weighs 78 pounds. The game is built to last 50-100 years, or countless innings of action.
“I built this game to be a great baseball pinball game, and also a collectible, a piece of furniture and quite simply the centerpiece for the greatest collection in the world,” he said.
The game was being sold at The National for $649.
Buyers can personalize the game by naming the field, park or stadium. They also choose wood grain or red brick to surround the playing field. Stadium lights and a 21-inch high mesh fence also are available. Players choose their individual teams, fill out their own lineup cards and can easily keep track of the location of the runners on base, as well as balls, strikes, outs and innings played.
Pitchers can throw fast balls and slower pitches, and because of an adjustment lever, the pitcher can throw both inside and outside pitches.
The artwork for the game is similar to antique pinball games from a past era. The stainless steel ramps that balls roll up and fly over the fence for a home run, are an interesting touch unto themselves. The scoreboard is a replica of an early 1900s model, with its wooden catwalk for setting the scorecards in place. The golden Roman arches are reminiscent of those at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The fixed fences look like red brick, partially covered with ivy.
Each game is individually built and takes about 12 hours or more to complete.
The Quint No. 3 game is being donated to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in honor or Babe Ruth. The No. 24 game is being donated to the San Francisco Giants to honor Willie Mays, while the New York Yankees will receive No. 7 to honor Mickey Mantle.
“The gifts are in appreciation for the inspiration I received from them,” Quint said. (For more information on the game, visit www.realplaybaseball.com.
Truly, the Quint Premier Baseball Games live up to the mantra of the National Sports Collectors Convention: A wow-a-minute walk through history. Primarily sports, obviously, but there also were relics related to music, TV, movies and more at this year’s National Convention.
This year’s edition spanned 35 hours at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., with about 90 autograph guests and more than 500 dealers hawking their wares for a crowd estimated at 20,000.
Oh, for the endless cash to buy everything! In the meantime, it’s still fun to walk around The National, reunite with longtime friends in the hobby and see souvenirs from every era – and maybe obtain autographs from the immortals.
Here’s a look at some of the items I spotted on my annual expedition into Fantasy Land:
– There was a football player drawing (circa 1965), oil on canvas, from artist Ernie Barnes – with a $4,800 price tag.
– The Rich Gossage case of career-related relics was on display at SCP Auctions, including rings, a Chicago White Sox game-worn jersey and hat, plus his Rolaids Relief Man Award.
– The Pluto bobble head – the lone bobble head spotted on this one dealer’s table, was from the early 1970s and was made in Japan. The asking price was $95.
– Kirk Kovacs, the owner of Kovacs Sports, offered one of the oldest items spotted at The National: the 1834 Book of Sports, featuring the first rules of the game of baseball. Kovacs said there are less than 10 known books in private hands. The book was yours for $6,500.
– Or, for $7,000, you could have purchased a 2012 Prince Fielder-signed, game-worn uniform.
– Or, for only $700, you could have grabbed a seat from the old Comiskey Park.
– Who I Am: A Memoir of Pete Townshend, autographed by Townshend, was available for $150.
– The vintage CCM Bobby Hull model hockey skates were a mere $50 – a great find!
– Spotted at The National: Don Lepore. “He was a hobby legend, who was huge early in the hobby,” said longtime dealer Mark Dehem. Lepore drove a new Cadillac Eldorado to The National decades ago when the event was held at the Troy (Mich.) Hilton.
– Georgia-based dealer Kip Ingle had a 1957 mini baseball signed by the Washington Senators ($400). Ingle has sold his souvenirs at every National since 1991, and was selling at some conventions in the 1980s, too.
– Lisa Marie Varon signed autographs at the booth of The Cardboard Connection, which is the longest-running collectibles and trading card radio show. Lisa Marie, a Chicago resident, ended her run with TNA Impact Wrestling this summer, but she certainly hasn’t hung up her boots, she said. She also is the owner of a successful and popular wrestling-themed pizzeria: The Squared Circle, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. The restaurant features brick-oven pizza, stuffed angus burgers and craft beers. She is a regular at the restaurant, almost nightly, signing autographs and mingling with customers. And yes, the food is very good!
– One dealer had two gems from former Boston outfielder Dwight Evans. There was Evans’ media pass from the 2007 World Series, when he represented WFXT-TV ($125), and a pair of signed spikes ($175).
– The six main cast members of the longtime, popular TV sitcom Friends were featured in a large, framed, signed, seven-photo item ($895).
– A framed, autographed action 16-by-20 photo of Pele was $559. The soccer sensation is scheduled to sign autographs in Chicago in November.
– Dave’s Custom Woodwork (Avon, Minn.) offered a 30-inch bat and base stool for $149.
– There were 2013 Stanley Cup pucks for $13.
– The soft-serve ice cream at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center is, usually, a must during the five-day affair. (I refrained throughout the show and kind of regret that decision.)
– There were on-ice pucks from the deciding Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup for $40.
– PTF Sports of Parsippany, N.J., always has an eye-popping array of authentic jerseys, throwback jerseys, team T-shirts, sweatshirts and more. They are all very reasonably priced.
– A framed 16-by-20 photo of President Obama placing the Medal of Freedom on Stan Musial was autographed by Musial ($500).
– There was a signed 16-by-20 photo of daredevil Evel Knievel, with a Steiner COA, for $79.
– For $40, you could have grabbed an autographed autobiography of Bobby Knight, Terry Francona or Phil Jackson. It was $2 more ($42) for Jimmy Connors’ book, and $70 for the Peter Criss book.
– The 1963 Sports “Hall of Fame” busts, a complete set (1-20), was $1,000, featuring Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Bob Feller and others.
– It always is amazing to see the framed, autographed Michael Jordan “Wings” poster from Upper Deck Authenticated, with MJ holding a ball (or half of the ball, in the display) and a $4,995 price tag.
– Signed era gloves were impressive: Carl Hubbell ($225), Johnny Mize ($150), Mickey Mantle ($900), Ralph Kiner ($125) and Bobby Doerr ($125).
– Quoting longtime dealer and show promoter George Johnson: “For the first time in 27 years (in the hobby), I was asked if I had any pro wrestling and roller derby (collectibles).” The answer was no.
– Johnson said the hottest member of the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks is Patrick Kane, and Kane-signed Stanley Cup pucks were, fittingly, $88 – his uniform number.
– Or, for the hockey diehard, a jersey signed by the three Hanson Brothers (the fictional hockey players, not the singers), was only $65.
– From the autographed bat front: Starlin Castro ($95), Jason Kipnis ($80), Brandon Belt ($75), Derek Holland ($60) and Casey Kelly ($50).
– Many attendees speculated that there were 200 or maybe even 300 fewer dealers than past years when The National has been held in the same venue. Yes, there definitely were fewer.
– From one of the corners of the show, there was The Cave Sports Cards of Mays Landing, N.J., offering hundreds of inserts.
– Summer reading from Jill McCormick of Catonsville, Md., included autobiographies of Billy Williams, Don Maynard, Gary Carter and Ernie Harwell, among others.
– Jack Heir, a dealer from New Jersey, offered a Harry Caray-signed baseball, signed on the sweet-spot, and a painted image of Caray on the ball for $325.
– Heir, who specializes in baseball autographs, said he sold one autographed Alex Rodriguez baseball at The National.
– One of Heir’s prized offerings was an 8-by-10 advertisement for Chesterfield cigarettes, signed by eight of the nine players pictured, including Robin Roberts, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial and others. “I think that’s one of the coolest things I have,” Heir said. It was on sale for $800.
– GMMI Group offered an eye-catching display of soccer jerseys.
– With the NFL season forthcoming, let’s flashback – to the days of Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar. One dealer had 24-by-36-inch oil paintings of each ($99 apiece).
– From the Really-Cool-And-Signed Department: Mickey Mantle bat ($2,750), Babe Ruth baseball ($3,500) and a Walter Payton football ($850).
– There was a Kirby Puckett-signed jersey for $950, and a Greg Norman-worn golf hat for $125.
– For $249, you could have scored a signed Matt Harvey New York Mets white uniform, or a blue jersey of soccer sensation Ronaldo. Or, for $239, an Archie Manning-signed uniform.
– Dealer Randy Cook purchased a 2012 Topps Triple Threads card, 1-of-1, featuring a game-used bat knob of Babe Ruth. “We had been negotiating for a while,” Cook said. He is uncertain what he plans to do with the prized gem – keep it or sell it. “It was just a great opportunity to get a great piece, and I’m guessing it is the only Babe Ruth knob at The National.” Cook said the Ruth knob card is the “best of anything” Ruth-related he’s ever owned. “It’s really cool,” he said. Speculation is that the card could fetch $20,000.
l Two signed records caught my eye: Clarence Clemons ($100) and Bill Cosby as Fat Albert ($40).
– Jack Nicklaus-signed 8-by-10 photo: $100.
– For $25, you could claim an autographed baseball from John Donaldson, who spent the 1968 season in Oakland with Joe DiMaggio – and the autograph is signed on a DiMaggio commemorative American League ball.
– Ted Kluszewski’s Indiana University letterman’s jacket, with the 1945 Big Ten Champions patch, was $1,995 from Sports Gallery of West Chester, Ohio.
– Sports Gallery also offered a few Pete Rose payroll checks from the Cincinnati Reds.
– From the Those Are Cool Department: The home plate and pitching rubber from the Yankee Stadium bullpen ($595); or the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies third base from Opening Day ($450).
– Now serving: A silver platter, inscribed: Best Wishes to “Lynn and Leo” from the 1969 Chicago Cubs, presented on June 19, 1969. The platter was a wedding gift for the Durocher couple and features facsimile signatures inscribed on the platter, including Don Kessinger, Rye Nye, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Jim Hickman, among others.
– It always brings out the “I Remember That Game” look when I see All-Star Baseball from Cadaco. One dealer had several versions for sale: the 1959 edition for $150, 1960 for $85, 1962 for $85, 1969 for $75, 1979 for $675 and 1989 for $35.
That’s it from Chicago, see you next summer in Cleveland for the 35th National Sports Collectors Convention.
Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to SCD. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.