Ted Taylor's Collector's Corner
Ted Taylor has been a life-long baseball fan and collector of baseball cards and sports memorabilia. He began writing a hobby column back in the early 1970s and has been writing it someplace ever since. He was first president of The Eastern Pennsylvania Sports Collectors Club and co-promoter of the Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Shows. He served as VP of the Fleer Corporation (1991-97) and was co-founder and the first President of The Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society (1996-99). Ted can be heard playing big band and swing music from 8 a.m. to noon every Tuesday on WRDV-FM (89.3), and you can email him at email@example.com.
Click here for information on Ted's latest book . . .
“20th Century PHILLIES by the numbers”
Or . . . You can’t tell the players without a scorecard
September 4, 2015
This is our 40th Year of hobby columns
Ted Taylor’s Collector’s Corner
Topps Chrome Baseball Wraps Up August
The pickings were slim for baseball card collectors in August – just Allen & Ginter (reviewed in the last column) and 2015 Topps Chrome Baseball (reviewed here).
Kris Bryant (of the Cubs) is the poster boy for the box and the wrapper. I was disappointed in that his card was not in my box. There are 96 cards in a hobby box (in my case an unusual amount of doubles cut in to the assortment) – 24 packs (4 cards each). Two autographed cards are promised and also in the mix – I got Buck Farmer of the Tigers and Matt Barnes of the Red Sox. Oddly there were more American League cards than National League. There also more horizontal cards than I’d prefer.
This years’ product is, in essence, what it was when it began back in 1996 -- a shiny, condensed version of the year's flagship set. This means a lot of cards of players we’ve already had a lot of cards of. Many of those cards are identical photos with the chrome treatment. As with recent years, Refractors and autographs of rookies are the primary chase, although there are some new inserts as well. I got one purple border parallel (Yordano Ventura of the Royals – 219/250). I also got two duplicate cards of Ventura. That’s Yordano overkill.
Of the inserts one such set was “Future Stars” and I got two of them – Jake Lamb of the D’Backs and Javier Baez of the Cubs. I also got one ‘Commencement” card and it was of Jacob DeGrom of the Mets. A Gallery of Greats card of Miguel Cabrera also tumbled out of the box.
The base set has 200 cards. This includes 50 rookies (none of whom actually leaped out at me). Hobby boxes are going in the $70 range.
I’m looking forward to this month because lots of new product (baseball and football) will be in the pipeline.
Robert E. “Bob” Schmierer, 1941-2015
It’s hard saying good-bye to a long-time friend
Bob Schmierer and I attended Cheltenham High School together. That’s where we met. He had gone to Elkins Park Junior High, while I went to Thomas Williams. The two schools served the school district. Bob was a year behind me, but our circle of friends was inclusive and so we knew each other well during our high school years.
After graduation Bob went to Muhlenberg, I went to Millersville and so we didn’t see each other again until he answered an ad I ran in Montgomery Newspapers in late 1974 stating that I was looking to buy old baseball cards. Bob called, he had some old cards – a set his father had given him – and he was curious about values and the fledgling baseball card hobby. I didn’t buy his cards – though I did buy many other cards thanks to that ad – but we renewed our friendship. He fell, hard, for the baseball card hobby.
Baseball card shows, at that time, were few and far between. There were a few in the New York City/North Jersey area and a few in Delaware and Maryland. We wanted to attend one but didn’t feel like driving such a long distance. So, instead, we decided to hold one of our own. That’s right, we had never been to one, didn’t even know how they worked, but we thought we’d run one anyway. How hard could it be?
I was public relations director at Spring Garden College in Chestnut Hill at the time. I asked President Bob Thompson if we could run a show there. He said, “Sure, why not?” and the first Philadelphia Baseball Card & Sports Memorabilia Show was set for September 27, 1975. We announced it in April and the media fell in love with the idea. Bob and I were on radio, TV, featured in the press - endlessly. They knew a good story.
Hobby historians will tell you that our show changed the hobby. It was a sunny September day for that first show. Crowds began to gather early in the morning – long before Bob and I even got there. We had no idea what we had created. We drew over 1,200 collectors and those that came brought collections to sell – others came to buy.
Within two years we outgrew the college campus and opened the doors for “Philly IV” at the George Washington Motor Lodge Convention Center in Willow Grove. The crowd for that first show was close to 8,000 – the show was a national hit. We expanded it to three days and, at times, were fearful that the local fire marshal would shut us down because too many people were there.
Collectors came from all over the country. The motel sold out, as did all the other motels in the area. It was a pure hobby event. The deal was card collecting. We did offer baseball players each day to sign autographs – but the signatures were always free. Most of today’s shows spin around selling autographs, the dealers are secondary. At our shows the dealers were always the stars.
Del Ennis, thanks to the urging of his wife Liz (“give the boys a break,” she said when we cornered Del at his bowling alley), was our first guest. We also had other Whiz Kids like their manager Eddie Sawyer, Robin Roberts, Curt Simmons, Dick Sisler, Andy Seminick, Stan Lopata, Eddie Sanicki and more. A’s star Bobby Shantz, the AL MVP in 1952, was also owner of a bowling alley and dairy bar when we had him as a signer. A young boy asked his father, “How come the hamburger man is signing autographs?”
And so the show grew and grew. Some people suggested we host the new “National” hobby show. Bob replied, “No thanks, we are the National show” and we were. As time passed, and the motor lodge deteriorated, the show moved to the new Fort Washington Expo Center, then, finally, to Reading PA. Bob and I ended our partnership in the mid-80’s but I still kept an involvement which, as the years passed, diminished. We lost touch. Bob sold the show to David Hunt in the mid 2000’s and retired.
Besides baseball collecting, Bob was a historian and a golfer. He once wrote a book about the APBA baseball game – that was quite popular at one time with baseball fans. A longtime resident of Maple Glen, Bob grew up in Elkins Park and also called Erdenheim and Glenside home at times in his life. Of late he wintered in Stuart, FL.
Bob loved Ocean City, NJ as did I. It’s where we went as high school and college kids. We ran a show there in the early 80’s that, while a success, never replicated our Philly show. On August 11 Bob passed away in his beloved Ocean City. He was 74. I read it in the paper – we were away so I missed the viewing.
He is survived by his wife Linda (of 48 years), two daughters and four grandchildren. He is also survived by a national hobby of which his pioneering efforts are regarded as crucial to the success that it has enjoyed.
I chose to recall the fun we had. The trips we took together. The ballplayers we met and the unprecedented success of the shows we created – having no idea what we were doing, just following our instincts. Rest well old friend, say hi to Honus Wagner for me.BOOK UPDATE – My latest (8th book “The 20th Century Phillies by the Numbers – or, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard” (302 pages). It is available from them (BiblioPublishing.com), amazon.com and other internet book sellers. E-book versions also available. By mail an autographed copy costs $24 ppd. From TTA LLC, Box 273, Abington PA 19001. There’s a Phillies talk and book signing set for October 1, 7 PM, at the Horsham PA Library.
As usual - Thanks to Ted Silary for including this column in his web-zine and to all of you for regularly reading it.