The Accidental Tourist • Jersey Shore, Boardwalk, and the Sports Crazies

Posted In: Culture, Community Profiles,   By: Richard Curry

09th August, 2022     0

The 2022 National Sports Convention was held in Atlantic City for 4 days. This town isn’t what it used to be. Crime is 8 times more here than the norm in New Jersey. Our last cab driver, who hails from Pakistan, said he was held up 3 times last year. He told us not to go anywhere between our Hotel (The Borgata) & the Board Walk.

I was on a slot machine before checking in. I put a dollar in, but the machine kicked it back out. I then put in a 20, hit the button and out came $484.50. ‘How can this place stay open?’   I later found out. The economy may suck but it hasn’t slowed down the sports collectors. Two recent items are worth a mention. A 1979 Wayne Gretzky (O-Pee-Chee) rookie card sold for $3.75 million. A 1909- T206 Honus Wagner card went for $6.606 Million.

In my 2 days here, I picked up two items at the show: A Grace Kelly autograph to “Penny Sue” from her autograph book. This same girl also had two others: Audrey Hepburn & Elvis Presley. I bought a 1950 Baseball Contract signed by Lawrence Berra. “Yogi” was paid $17,500.00 for the season. In the contract it stipulated Casey Stengel would add $1500.00 if he felt “Yogi” earned it. In today’s money that contract would be $215,163.59. Remember 72 years ago gas was .27 cents a gallon & you could buy a house for $7,500.00. “Yogi” was a 15 time All-Star with 10 World Series rings. A few “Yogi-isms”: “If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.”, “Little League baseball is good-it keeps the parents off the streets.”, “I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia, Let them walk to school like I did.”

4 Great items at the show: (#1) A huge ‘Hassan Cigarette’ Ad with Ty Cobb & Christy Mathewson. Christy & Cobb were actually best of friends. They only faced each other once (6-21-1915), in an exhibition game In front of 13,000 workers of the Wiilys- Oberland Company in Toledo, Ohio. Cobb went 2 for 3. Saginaw’s “Red” McKee was the Tiger catcher that day (1 for 3). During WWI Ty & Christy were in the same platoon when mustard gas went off accidentally too soon during a training exercise in Europe, Ty got to his mask in time-Christy did not. He developed T.B. and died a young man on 10/7/1925 at age 45. Ty Cobb cried.

(#2) A 1968 Mickey Mantle contract where he was paid $100,000.00.

(#3) A baseball uniform Ted Williams wore while in Korea. As a pilot in Korea for the Marines, Ted flew 39 missions & was shot down once. John Glenn was one of his fellow pilots.

(#4) A 1952 unopened pack of Topps baseball cards (selling price: $ 65,000.00). A 1952 Mantle rookie card sold for $5.2 Million.

The board walk is interesting. This is where “Miss America” took place for 85 years starting in 1921. It’s now held in Vegas. The New Jersey Shore beach is great, the people are fun, but this place is heading to “the place that used to be”. Online gambling has slowed the Casino’s here.  

I have been collecting since the late 1970’s. On 11/07/1979 Wayne Gretzky played a game at the “Old Red Barn” Olympia Stadium on Grand River Avenue in Detroit. I knew his equipment manager Kelly Pruden. I promised him $500.00 if he would give me Wayne’s game used jersey after the game. He put it in a paper bag & off I went. I sold it for $15,000.00 years later (this same jersey was on the front of the 1981-82 press guide two years later with same marks on it). This jersey sold for over $400,000.00 last year (Oh Well). Another not so great move.

The owner of the Court Theater called me & asked if I wanted some old Goudey baseball cards (2 Babe Ruth’s & 2 Lou Gehrig’s - all 4 in great shape were in the mix). I displayed them under glass for 3 years on a table in my library - the sun bleached them out, taking 4 PSA - 10’s to zero. The value of those cards today, the way I bought them?  Don't ask. 




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