Rob Bertrand, über-collectors, is building a 500 Home Run autograph collection. Here are his first 11 signed baseballs.
Passion, energy, excitement. The thrill of the hunt. It seems that everyone infected with the collecting bug shares these same traits! True enthusiasts—or “über collectors” —spend endless hours building their perfect collections and becoming experts in their areas of interest. To celebrate this form of remarkable commitment, WorthPoint is initiating a series of interviews with über collectors from across North America so we can all learn what makes them, and what they collect, so interesting. Our first conversation is with a gentleman from the Midwest who specializes in all things having to do with sports.
WorthPoint: Please tell us your name, where you live and your profession.
Über Collector: Hi, my name is Rob Bertrand. I am from Alliance, Ohio, and for my day job, I am a content developer.
WP: Rob, tell us about what you collect and why you are so interested in it.
ÜC: I collect sports cards and memorabilia—things like balls, bats, uniforms, tickets, uniforms and programs. As a passionate sports fan, they connect me to the athletes and the games. I’ve always loved art, graphic design and photography; sports cards in particular blend all this into one element.
WP: How many cards and pieces of sports memorabilia items do you have in your collection?
ÜC: Wow, that’s a tough question. Hundreds of thousands would be about the best I could do to quantify it.
WP: Wow, that is incredibly impressive! I can’t even imagine how anyone could keep track of that volume of treasures. So, can you please tell us how you got interested in collecting these items?
ÜC: I collected as a kid and, as most boys do once they enter adolescence, my interests turned to other things. About 12 years ago a friend asked me when the last time I had been in a card shop, and had I seen what they were doing with cards these days. It had obviously been years and when he showed me some of his collection, I was instantly hooked.
WP: What are your favorite top three items in your collection, and why?
A portion of Bertand’s Cal Ripken Jr. collection.
ÜC: Another tough question, and hard to answer given the diversity of things in my collection. When it comes to cards, they would include:
1. My 2001 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts Shoeless Joe Jackson Game Used Bat Card. This card has an actual piece of a baseball bat used by Jackson on it! I cherish this card because he is arguably one of the greatest players to ever play the game, despite his alleged complicity in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal. As a White Sox fan, to own a piece of a bat he used during his career is just incredible.
2. My 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan Rookie Card. I grew up knowing how great of a pitcher Nolan Ryan was and watched him pitch countless times. As the only player to have seven no-hitters and retire as the all-time strikeout king, owning his rookie card brings a smile to my face.
3. 2005 Donruss Throwback Threads Babe Ruth Game-Used Bat and Jersey Card. This card has small pieces of Ruth’s bat and uniform on it. To me, this Babe Ruth card is simply epic. How many people can say they own a piece of the Babe’s game-used jersey and bat? I don’t have the kind of deep pockets necessary to acquire those rare treasures in their entirety at auction. But to be able to own just a tiny piece is quite a thrill!
In addition, an important component of my overall collection is my group of single signed balls from the 500 Home Run Club. These would certainly qualify among my very top collection favorites. They are a work in progress, but I have 11, including Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, Willie McCovey, Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Frank Thomas.
WP: Wow! I can understand why these items are so special to you. Many of them appear in the Worthopedia as well—so congrats on your great taste and eye for investment! Many people who have great collections like yours also are methodical about their presentations. So, how do you display your collection? Do you keep everything out at the same time, or do you rotate displays?
ÜC: The display is constant with new items periodically being added. I have an organized office with displays for my favorite players—they include Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, Michael Jordan and Walter Payton. I also have space for my favorite Chicago sports teams, the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Sox and Cubs.
WP: Would you be so kind as to tell us a brief story about how you went out of your way to get a very special item for your collection.
The Chicago Blackhawks section of Bertand’s collection.
ÜC: Absolutely! I was attending a Chicago Blackhawks playoff game. At intermission I headed off to the rest room. I was standing there and out of the corner of my eye saw someone step next to me. It was former Blackhawk goalie Ed Belfour! I said, “Mr. Belfour, I’d shake your hand . . . but now doesn’t seem like the appropriate time!” He chuckled and we both went about our business. The bathroom was crowded and I lost sight of him. I washed my hands and rushed into the concourse, frantically scanning the area to find him again. I saw him and ran up to him. I introduced myself and asked him to sign my ticket. And, he did!
WP: Rob, what is the “holy grail” item you would love to add to your collection?
ÜC: That’s an easy one. Without a doubt, the 1914 Cracker Jack Shoeless Joe Jackson sportscard. It is an extremely popular card that commands tens of thousands of dollars in almost any condition on the secondary market.
WP: Many, many thanks for your time and best of luck in finding your 1914 treasure! One’s out there with your name on it, for sure!
Are you an über-collectors? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about your collection and we may feature you and your collection in an upcoming article.
Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.
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