If you’ve never been to the Network54 Vintage Card Forum website, you’ve missed out on sitting down in a dugout filled with genuine hobby enthusiasts.
The site, boasting perhaps 30 threads largely confined to discussions of baseball cards and memorabilia older than 50 years, routinely engenders lively discussion about a wide range of topics within those parameters.
One of the neatest threads I’ve seen lately was launched (is that the right word?) by a well-known hobby veteran, Ted Zanidakis, encouraging the group to talk about some of their personal meetings with baseball players.
Zanidakis talked about meeting Ted Williams 25 years ago in Cooperstown and subsequently talking with the Hall of Famer for 25 minutes. The topics touched on included hitting (mandatory), the Yankees (optional) and even Ted’s 1959 Fleer set that followed a nifty bidding war for Ted’s exclusive rights between Topps and Fleer that year (elective).
According to Zanidakis, with only one modest prompt from a question about his 1954 Bowman card, Williams went into a long soliloquy about Sy Berger and how Fleer and Topps got into a largely unprecedented bidding war for Ted’s exclusive rights for 1959.
As serious hobbyists know, Fleer won that particular wrangle, as Zanidakis explained came after Fleer pushed the bidding all the way up to $5,000, and which point Topps hollered “Uncle.”
Zanidakis’ account of Ted’s story fits nicely with a rare radio interview we reported about last year where Ted had also discussed the 1959 deal.