View Full Version : 1971 West Coast and Detroit shows (and early hobby publicity) in Ballcard Collector

02-20-2016, 12:13 AM
The October 1971 issue of The Ballcard Collector (#68) had back-to-back articles about the third annual West Coast Sports Collectors' Convention and the second annual Midwest Sports Collectors' Convention (the Detroit show), both of which took place the weekend of August 20-22, 1971. The article about the West Coast show is written by Jim Nowell, who hosted it in his house (!), and includes an interesting overview of 11 major card dealers as discussed by the attendees. The article about the Detroit show is written by Mike Anderson, who had a table there. (Both Nowell and Anderson regularly wrote for Ballcard Collector and other hobby publications.) The Anderson article on the Detroit show (then the biggest card show in the country) mentions a Wall Street Journal article that had appeared before the convention, and several TV crews who showed up. That WSJ article featured Dick Reuss, also a regular contributor to Ballcard Collector, and two issues later, in the second November 1971 issue (#70), Reuss wrote about his experiences with that article and the media onslaught it caused. I've posted all three of these articles below.

These articles, just like the others I've posted about shows of the early '70s, are an interesting snapshot of a time when the hobby was about to undergo big changes, though in 1971 many of those changes were barely perceptible. The media attention that so discombobulated Reuss was a pretty new thing for baseball card collectors, and it was only going to get more intense in the coming years.


02-20-2016, 02:24 AM
Here's an item from the January 1972 Trader Speaks in which Bob Solon describes some of the letters Reuss got after the Wall Street Journal article from people wanting to sell him their cards.


02-20-2016, 08:26 AM
I especially like the analysis of the dealers. It was also interesting how Irv Lerner shilled his own items (to bid them up to others) and ended up winning them back, as it backfired on him.

02-20-2016, 11:19 AM
I especially like the analysis of the dealers. It was also interesting how Irv Lerner shilled his own items (to bid them up to others) and ended up winning them back, as it backfired on him.

Haha! I hadn't even noticed that, as I just skimmed that part. It just goes to show you that some things haven't changed, including shilling, though now it's more complex and harder to detect (but still possible to detect, as we've seen). Lerner seems to have been a pretty big deal in the hobby in those days -- in the article on the West Coast convention it says that they made an effort to get everyone to contribute to the discussion on dealers, because the year before Irv Lerner had dominated the conversation.

I also note that there was a 10% buyer's premium on that auction, which seems to have been standard -- that was also what Charles Bray charged for his Card Collector's Bulletin auctions.

02-21-2016, 03:49 AM
Wow that was fascinating read. I remember as starting out in the mid 70's buying from some of those guys like Stan and Jim. Those guys were way into it even back then.

It would be fun to have a convention at a home...

Ricky Y

06-16-2016, 12:26 AM
As a followup to this post from February --

The articles above about the 1971 West Coast and Detroit shows were in Ballcard Collector #68 (October 1971), and the article by Dick Reuss about the national publicity he and other collectors got in the wake of that Detroit show was in Ballcard Collector #70 (November 1971 #2). In the Reuss article he mentions a 5-minute segment on baseball cards that Heywood Hale Broun did for the CBS evening news, airing on September 4, and editor George Martin added a note saying that a transcript of the segment was in the previous issue of Ballcard Collector, #69. At the time of the original post I didn't have that issue, but now I do, thanks to a board member. I've posted a scan of it below.

I also found the front-page Wall Street Journal article about Reuss and other collectors (August 10, 1971) that got Reuss so upset and led so many people to write and call him. I've posted that below the Ballcard Collector article. Notice that they actually gave his home address in the article, which is probably why he got 800 letters. The reporter also told the now-legendary story of how Frank Nagy spent his life's savings to buy Walt Corson's entire collection, and how the springs on his car gave out from the weight of the cards. (The article doesn't name Corson, but that's who it was.) But I hadn't heard the part about him bargaining with Corson for several days, or about his wife packing up and trying to leave but not getting far because of the busted springs on the car.


06-16-2016, 01:04 PM

Thank you, brother, for posting these wonderful early hobby documents.

I particularly enjoyed the one with the transcript of CBS's Haywood Hale Broun. I used to enjoy his commentary back in the day. I distinctly remember the one he did on Bobby Orr at the time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 1970. Now to find out, 46 years later, that he did a piece on baseball cards, and that he himself was a collector, is quite moving. This is so cool!:D Thanks, David! ---Brian Powell

06-20-2016, 12:14 PM
The report says -

There were complaints about Irv Lerner as he "dominated the conversation wince he was very opinionated" :)


06-23-2016, 11:18 AM
Thanks for posting these, David -- very interesting, as always.

The Time Magazine article that Reuss references in the newsletter was published on October 11, 1971 and is entitled "Modern Living: The Card Sharks".

Since it's behind a paywall, I won't reproduce the whole article here, but it's a short article and simply derivative of the WSJ article.