Thursday, March 20, 2008

Baseball Cards Magazine and The Great TV Auction

Remember these?

My brother and I had a bunch of them when we were kids. I specifically remember reading that Mattingly issue (probably the Q & A section- always my favorite) on the floor in my living room in the summer of '89 after getting back from swimming in my uncle's pool down the street. Don't know why. That's what that specific issue reminds me of.

And now, a little info about me: I work in TV. Specifically, I work in public television. You know, PBS.

Not sure how many of you watch PBS all that regularly but once a year many of the affiliate stations suspend regular programming for as many as ten days to hold The Great TV Auction.

In the days before eBay, the Auction was a great place to get deals on everything from collectables to wine, from artwork to ice cream, from dinner packages to oil changes and so on...

The Auction was always a lot of fun for me since it was the only time literally everyone on staff was involved specifically with a TV production. Whereas most of our productions had a crew of ten at the most, when the Auction rolled around, it was like having a crew of seventy-five people, plus a bunch more volunteer workers, all putting what could sometimes be described as total chaos over the airwaves.

Well, I worked every Auction from 2000 until its final year in 2006, but 2001 is the year I got us all into the biggest pickle... no wait.

2001 was the year that someone donated a complete set (literally every single issue) of Baseball Cards Magazine to be auctioned off. Employees were absolutely forbidden from bidding on items but I knew I wanted those magazines. Problem was, not only was I an employee, but the guy who donated them set their value at 600 dollars. Way too rich for my blood.

Apparently, way too rich for anyone else in Buffalo and Southern Ontario as well because they didn't even get one single bid.

Anything that doesn't sell on-air is put up for sale in our studio at the "after Auction sale", usually at one-third of its value. At 200 dollars, it was still way too rich for my blood. The sale was open to the public and is two days long, so I was sure that some die-hard collector was going to come to the sale that weekend and scoop them up and kill my chances of having back an important part of my childhood.

But, even at one-third of their (probably over-estimated) value, they didn't sell.

Monday rolls around and as part of the studio crew, I'm brought in to help tear down the sale and pack up the things that no one wanted and take them to a storage facility. Needless to say I was thrilled t osee the magazines were still there.

Hoping to catch the Auction Manager in a good mood, I quickly decided that I could realistically offer fifty dollars for the box. I figured fifty dollars was better than the zero dollars that had been offered for them so far, so she might be inclined to make that deal.

I casually walked over and looked in the box like I had never seen it before, trying not to appear too excited. I caught the Auction Manager's attention and called her over.

"What, um, what do you think you're going to do with this box?" I asked.

"What's in it?"

"Oh, you know, just some old junky magazines."

"Well, we're not allowed to keep any newspapers or magazines at the warehouse so we'll probably just throw them away." she said.

"Um, well, can I take them?"

"Knock yourself out." And she walked away.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I immediately wrote my name in huge letters on the side of the box, accompanied by the words "DO NOT THROW AWAY." I wasn't taking any chances. That summer was spent watching Saturday baseball on Fox (I didn't have cable) while sorting through some newly acquired 80's cards from the flea market, a purchase directly inspired by those magazines.

And now I have in my posession every single issue of Baseball Cards Magazine. All the magazines were in great shape, they all contained the original "collector cards", and they were actually in the box chronologically so I didn't even have to sort them out. And I got them for free. This is without a doubt one of the luckiest things that I've ever had happen to me.

My hope is to share all these great magazines with all of you via some sort of regular feature on this blog. So, you know, keep reading!


White Sox Cards said...

That's a wonderful pick up! I love it when I find things unexpectedly like that.

Bubba said...

Wow...I used to love that magazine more than Beckett for the articles. Beckett was the price guide, but Baseball Cards had the more interesting articles. You are a lucky man!

Bay Rat North West said...

I managed to get all the issues w/ Barry Larkin on the cards or cover. Is there any way I can send you a list of the players and you put the team they are listed with for me. I am working on a comprehensive team specific listing of everything in the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards and that would be a huge help in an even bigger task.


Rich said...


Are you asking for players on the cover of each issue or players on the cards feaured in each issue? Either way, I'd be glad to help.

Brian said...

a sweet find... I wish I still had all my old mags...
the articles and pics must be fantastic!

Bay Rat North West said...

The players on the cards. Email me at oljoe73 at gmail dot com and I will get the list to you on Tuesday or Wednesday when I have a break.
Thanks for the help.

joseph said...

Sure, definitely I would prefer my first choice here. If not, then I would opt other auction-warehouse.