The connection that sports collectors actually have to their collections is a question I have often pondered.
It usually comes to me at an auction or a sports memorabilia show as I see what people purchase. It happened again on a recent Thursday evening at Kaye’s Auction on Stanley Street where football collectibles were going on the block.
In previous weeks Kaye’s had been auctioning a variety of sports and entertainment material from several sources, such as bankruptcies, trust companies, estates and the office of the sheriff.
The bidder next to me, who was there with his son, grabbed an old brown helmet for $45,which the auctioneer suggested he wanted for his man cave. He agreed and soon bought a blown-up photo reproduction of the 1970-71 NHL award winners that came from an Export calendar. The price was $25.
When the Blue Bombers memorabilia went on offer, he said he wasn’t interested as he didn’t have room for large framed jerseys signed by Charles Roberts and Milt Stegall. He then asked a very relevant question — why would anyone want a Stegall jersey signed specifically to ‘Mark’?
One buyer obviously did and paid $275 plus $200 for the Roberts. A defensive lineman-sized buyer in a Stegall jersey hung tough and got the XXXL Bomber jacket. That purchase I could understand.
Although I didn’t bid on anything at Kaye’s, I’m not immune to the impulse purchase. My latest was the $1 I invested at a Wellington Crescent church sale for an autographed Jordin Tootoo Nashville Predators photo.
Sports Collectors Digest, the bible of the industry, said "the collecting community lost one of its most knowledgeable resources" when Bill Campbell died in Selkirk on May 27.
Campbell’s biggest interest was hockey and the knowledge he gained over 40 plus years led to him to working as the hockey expert for Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. He had previously demonstrated his expertise with vintage memorabilia on Antiques Roadshow Canada and for Classic Auctions, the company that last week sold a massive Wayne Gretzky collection accumulated by Shaun Chaulk of Fort McMurray, Alta.
As a boy, Campbell got his collecting start by writing to hockey players and he was the ‘b’ in Ab D Cards, Winnipeg’s first sports collectible store that opened on Portage Avenue in 1981. Adam Mordarski was the A and Dale Weselowski the D. In order to get stock, A and b scraped up $1,500 and went down to the States on a buying trip.
"It was amazing what you could find then, such as Mickey Mantle rookie cards," Mordarski said.
Campbell and Mordarski both had full-time jobs so the partners left Ab D very soon, but they never lost their love for the hobby.
Mordarski does have a very meaningful connection to his personal collection. For years he has been writing to retired major league baseball players requesting an autograph. He tries to mention something important about their careers, which frequently leads to receiving a handwritten reply along with the signature.
Kent Morgan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 204-489-6641.