Overcast

Winnipeg, MB

8°c Overcast

Full Forecast

Travel

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Florida offers world's largest signed baseball collection

Posted: 12/14/2013 1:00 AM | Comments: 0

Advertisement

  • Print
Dennis Schrader in a vault that holds autographed baseballs.

AP Enlarge Image

Dennis Schrader in a vault that holds autographed baseballs.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle signed a baseball for Dennis Schrader in 1956, when Schrader was a nine-year-old boy attending a spring training game in Florida, leading to a life-long obsession: He now has more than 4,600 signed baseballs, certified by Guinness World Records as the largest such collection in the world.

That obsession is now on display at the St. Petersburg Museum of History in Florida. Schrader's Little Cooperstown opened to the public recently, and Schrader was grinning from ear to ear. He and his wife have loaned the balls to the museum for 20 years; after that, they will be returned to the family.

Previously, Schrader's baseballs were displayed in a room in his home that had walls a foot thick, a bank vault door, motion sensors and video-camera surveillance. The semi-retired mobile home executive once spent $25,000 on a single ball, signed by Joe DiMaggio and then-wife Marilyn Monroe.

He estimates the collection is worth $2 million to $3 million.

The collection is a trip through baseball history, and Schrader will personally give tours of the collection to groups.

There are the obvious great signatures: Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth and Jackie Robinson. There are several Negro League balls, a tribute to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League featured in the movie A League of Their Own, and several signed by celebrities and politicians.

"He captured the essence of baseball," said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

In August 2011, Guinness World Records certified him as the owner of 4,020 baseballs signed by major league baseball players. Duplicates and balls signed by non-baseball celebrities -- including U.S. President Barack Obama -- brought his collection of baseballs to more than 4,600.

It cost the museum $300,000 to design the exhibit and two years for city officials to convince Schrader to loan the precious collection.

The museum, which sits along St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront, is also gearing up to celebrate the 100th anniversary of baseball spring training in the city. Spring training began in St. Petersburg with the St. Louis Browns playing at Coffee Pot Park in 1914.

Schrader admitted that "there's an emptiness" in his home without the baseballs, but said the vault was filled with other collectibles, including his wife's 500 cookie jars and several hundred celebrity autographed photos.

Schrader's wife, Mary, said she and her husband won't stop collecting signed baseballs.

"In fact, I have a ball in my purse right now," Mary Schrader said, laughing and showing the blank ball. "I always carry one around, because you never know who you'll run into."

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2013 E2

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.