October 24, 2011

Memories of the 1979 Cincinnati show; buying Mickey Mantle cards before the prices exploded

December 1979 issue: "Jack Urban (left) and George Husby (right) show their fine array of collectibles to Baseball Hobby News editor Frank Barning at the Cincinnati show. Note the many Hartland Statues near the bottom of the photo."
Click on photo to enlarge


Among the finest shows in the old days was the Cincinnati event run by Bob Rathgeber, Phil Lachmeier and Ray Carson. They always had a fantastic auction and a well-stocked hospitality room.

At the 1979 show, I bought virtually every Mickey Mantle card in the building. Dealers thought I was crazy, because if I couldn't bargain for a discounted bulk price, I paid what they were asking. I remember coming home with a hundred or more Mantles.

At that point, the hobby and card prices were beginning to explode. The Mantles were among the best investments I ever made. The prices doubled within less than a year. Just imagine having dozens of mostly 1957-1969 Mantles. Sure, I wish I had never sold them, but a fine profit was turned.

We lived in New York at the time, and visiting shows in the midwest was always a treat. I went out of my way to spend time with dealers I had not met before but knew about from the hobby publications, including some of our Baseball Hobby News advertisers.

Among those I sought out are the duo pictured here, Jack Urban (not the former pitcher, 1957-59) and George Husby. They had been in the hobby for many years and like most of the dealers back then, were big baseball fans. I could not find Urban via a recent Google search but Husby was easy to locate. He still lives in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., continues to be a card dealer, and is active in youth baseball. He is a member of the Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Milwaukee Brewers diehard Tom Mortenson, formerly with Krause Publications for 19 years, did some digging and found a telephone listing in Algoma, Wis. for Urban. So, the good news is that it appears they are both still with us.

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