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In 1988, I sold my auto finance company and retired. I soon realized, much to my dismay and surprise, you can’t play golf seven days a week. Never having been handy around the house, or having any other hobby, I became bored.
One day I accompanied my wife to the local mall and to my great surprise, there was a memorabilia show in progress and one of my boy-hood idols, Bob Feller was autographing balls, bats, hats and photos. I couldn’t believe my good luck when I had my picture taken with my favorite player and he signed an 8×10 photo with his leg high over his head and he inscribed it: To Richard, your pal, Bob Feller! (Little did I know at that time that Bob Feller was visiting practically every mall in the U.S.A. autographing items for everyone who would pay him $20!)
That day, I became a sports collector for real. Of course, like everyone else, as a kid I collected baseball cards, traded amongst my friends and put them in my bicycle spokes. I was cool before I even knew what cool was. Of course, when I went away to college, my mom cleaned out the garage and donated them to the local dump-ster, making me an ex-millionaire.
I’m a Capricorn. I don’t mess around. One year after meeting Bob Feller I had accumulated over 1,500 signed baseballs. They were displayed in categories: Members of the Hall of Fame, teams, pitchers, hitters, MVP’s, and a collection of Cy Young winners.
From there I started collecting signed footballs, basketballs, and golf balls from Masters Champions. at one time I owned 26 Super Bowl Rings! I was a Big League collector and my house was known as the “Baseball House” and neighborhood kids would bring their dads for a tour.
Having lived in the Los Angeles area, I had season tickets for the Dodgers, Lakers, Kings and Raiders (back in the day). I took my collecting seriously and found myself a co-host of a radio show that aired before the Lakers games. The host was Gary Owens of “Laugh-In” fame and we called ourselves “Sports-Nuts”.
As a kid I subscribed to Sport Magazine, and as an adult I found myself the Memorabilia Editor of that fine publication, working for former L.A. Dodger All-Star first baseman, Steve Garvey.
That position took me around the country to various autograph shows. I became friends with the “movers and shakers” in the industry. It also led me to the Home Shopping Network, where I would occasionally be their on-air memorabilia authenticity expert. To this day, I am proud to have been a part of the largest volume show in their history. We sold baseball bats signed by Joe DiMaggio. The bats were a limited edition series of 1,951 pieces to commemorate the year he made batting history by hitting in 56 straight games. We sold them for $2,995 each.
I’ve lived a charmed life but have never been very good at any particular sport. I have, however, met my heroes in every sport: Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Wayne Gretzky, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Joe Montana, Magic Johnson, and all the Raider Hall of Famers, just to mention just a few.
At the beginning of this year, I was pleased and honored to be asked by Mario Jourdan, publisher of The Affluent Page, to share some of my memories about my life in the sports memorabilia fast lane. So for now, enjoy what I have shared with you thus far, talk to you soon.
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write by campbell