By VIVIAN BARNING
Frank’s recent story posted here regarding the Mickey Mantle New York City card shows evokes a different Tom Catal memory for me. Catal (see photo above) promoted those shows.
Tom was a prolific buyer of baseball card collections. He was masterful at buying them at a very low price. Several times in the mid to late 1970s he bought a collection and almost immediately flipped it to us.
Flipped or flipping, as you may recall, was a term that meant buying something and then reselling it almost immediately at a quick profit.
He knew we were more philosophically attuned to being long-time holders of cards. The best ones went into our collection and the remainder were set aside and eventually made available for sale individually.
After a couple purchases we came to an agreement with Catal. He’d buy collections and remove the Mantle cards. He’d then sell the remainder of cards to us at the price he’d pay for the entire collection. Of course we’d check to make sure we were okay with card condition and to see what else was there, but I don’t remember it ever being a problem.
I remember one specific buy. We had just returned from a card show in New York City and Catal phoned to say he had a large collection for us. He drove to our home in Glen Cove, Long Island. He lived somewhere south of us, also in Nassau County.
I remember this buy for two reasons. One, Randy was there in his pajamas (age was probably five or six) and he and Tom retreated to the backyard for a catch while we looked over the cards. Second, we had eaten in Chinatown that day and the MSG was really effecting me. I was sitting on the floor somewhat dizzy and numb and trying to check out the cards he’d brought.
So that’s how the Barnings came into much of their collection of 1950s cards and also their significantly large inventory of cards from that wonderful era. And Tom ended up with a safe full of Mantle cards. Sure, he came out ahead, but there was plenty of profit and fun to be had for all of us and isn’t that what it was really all about?