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Fellow collectors,
Our monthly e-newsletter, Mike DeNero's Vintage Sportscards: The Newsletter, features our original writings (articles, essays, and sports-related fiction), which we also post on our blog (to view our blog, click here) and submit to various magazines for publication, from time to time. To date, our articles have been published (or are scheduled to be published) in Old Cardboard, SGC Collector Magazine, Classic Images, Gridiron Greats, and Card Collecting News, to name a few. We have collected all of our writings here, on our library page, for your perusal. We will update it whenever we compose a new writing. For each article, essay, or work of sports-related fiction assembled here, we have provided the introductory passages, but have also included a link to the full piece posted on our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our selections and encourage you to post your comments on our blog.
Happy Collecting,
Mike DeNero

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The 1958 NFL Championship Game 50 Years Later: Why the 1952 Bowman Large Football Set is Superior to the 1952 Topps Baseball Set
by Mike DeNero
Fifty years ago, the New York Giants hosted the 1958 NFL Championship Game (and the visiting Baltimore Colts) at Yankee Stadium, a game widely chronicled as the birth of the modern NFL and the greatest game ever played. Fifty years later, football has replaced baseball as our nation's favored sport. However, while football reigns in the hearts of today's fans, the vintage sportscards market certainly continues to recognize baseball as king. This counterintuitive reality perhaps can be explained, at least in part, by the great effort that Major League Baseball ("MLB") exerts to bring its history to the forefront while the NFL largely, and mistakenly, neglects to promote its own glorious past effectively.
To illustrate, more likely than not, each person reading this editorial has seen more photographs and film footage of any one of Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson or Willie Mays than they have of the twelve NFL Hall of Famers who played in the 1958 NFL Championship Game combined. This is true even though that game featured some of the greatest and most popular players in the history of pro football: Johnny Unitas, Frank Gifford, Raymond Berry, Sam Huff, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, Gino Marchetti, and Emlen Tunnell (the first African-American player enshrined in Canton). While we are aware that ESPN recently aired a colorized broadcast of the 1958 NFL Championship Game in recognition of the game's fiftieth anniversary, we also note that the broadcasts of the NFL games that occurred this past December 28th (the season's final week) paid little, if any, attention to the fact that the 1958 NFL Championship Game was played on that date, fifty years prior.
To read this article in its entirety, please click here.
Charlie, Bob and Me & The 1953-1955 Johnston Cookies Milwaukee Braves Sets
by Mike DeNero
Where are you, Charlie? I’ve tried in vain to track you down. I have your set; you know, the one you worked so hard to put together way back in good ol’ 1955. The set that you took such great care of and that, at the time, probably sat near your bunk-bed, underneath your John Wayne poster and next to your Chuck Berry 45s. The set that undoubtedly provided you so much joy when you completed it back in your hometown of Milwaukee, the same year the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees to win the World Series. Are you still with us, Charlie? Or have you passed on to the field of dreams? Wherever you are, Charlie, thanks for leaving behind a fantastic piece of history.
Charlie is the pseudonym of the original owner of a 1955 Johnston Cookies Milwaukee Braves 36-card regional set that is currently housed in pristine Sportscard Guaranty ("SGC") holders (colloquially known as "slabs"). Charlie owned the cards in 1955 -- we, Mike DeNero’s Vintage Sportscards, LLC, own them today, at least until someone decides that they would fit more appropriately in his private collection, rather than in the inventory of a sportscard dealer. In the meantime, I’m calling all Charlies.
To read this article in its entirety, please click here.
Cigarettes, Hollywood Starlets, and Nazis: The Historical Tale of the Garbaty Film Stars Sets
by Mike DeNero and Kyleigh Spencer
Moritz Garbaty and his family (wife, Ella, and eight year-old son, Thomas) escaped from Nazi Germany in December 1938. Just days before, Moritz was the majority owner and President of one of the most successful businesses in Berlin, the Garbaty Cigarette Company, started by his father, Josef, nearly fifty years earlier.
While Josef and Moritz owned and managed the company, it was known for the multitude of popular cigarette brands it produced, its generous financial support of a local Jewish orphanage, and its worker-friendly environment, offering unemployment insurance, free meals in its cafeteria, a laundromat, a library, a choir, a newspaper, and even a sports club. Today’s vintage card collectors are familiar with the Garbaty Cigarette Company for producing (from 1934 through 1937) the three greatest sets of cigarette cards featuring film stars ever made.
As Moritz Garbaty and his family boarded the New Amsterdam bound for America, little did he know that an actress featured prominently in the film stars sets inadvertently played a pivotal role in necessitating their escape from Nazi Germany.
To read this article in its entirety, please click here.
Chuck Taylors, Musty Gyms, the Hardwood, and the Emergence of a Legend: The 1957-58 Topps Basketball Set
by Mike DeNero
On the night of April 12, 1958, one year after leading his Boston Celtics to the championship in his rookie season, the greatest player in NBA history limped through the sixth and final game of the NBA Finals with a heavy cast on his right ankle. Rather than nurse the torn ligaments and chip fracture he suffered in Game 3, he flew from Boston to St. Louis and arrived at his team’s hotel after midnight the evening before the game. Upon seeing his injured center suddenly appear in the lobby, his coach, Red Auerbach, asked, "what are you doing here, and how does it (the ankle) feel?" "I didn’t come out here to watch the game," he replied. "I came to play."
As he hobbled through Game 6, he could only exert an impossible but gallant effort to stop the opposing team’s star, future hall of famer Bob Pettit, from pouring in 50 points to secure the 1957-58 NBA Championship for the St. Louis Hawks, as the Hawks beat the Celtics 110-109. That night, the greatest player in NBA history must have resolved to win the NBA title ... several more times.
To read this article in its entirety, please click here.
Register This! A Hobby and a Collector Reborn
by Keith Weinhold
I was 18 years old in 1991, and it felt like the sportscard apocalypse was upon us. Tons of companies and product were flooding the market, cluttering the simple Topps, Fleer, and Donruss landscape that I was raised on. Besides, now I was off to start college and my mind was on what girl would move into the dorm room next to me rather than Don Mattingly rookie cards. Sportscards weren’t cool anymore – and seemed to be spiraling to worthless back then as card shops were asking for one-third of book price while collectors spoke of card overpopulation.
Fast forward to 2008: while poking around on eBay last year, the meaning of some previously foreign-looking acronyms – such as “SGC”, “PSA”, and “POP” crystallized. It looked like some vintage cards were popular and valuable, attracting dozens of bidders.
Well, I had no idea about the advent of professional grading in sportscards – and coincidentally, its genesis came in 1991 when I got out of cards. These third-party companies authenticate, grade, then finally encapsulate an owner’s cards in tamper-evident holders. Then, look at this, the cards that I dreamed of as an ‘80s kid are all for sale in online marketplaces! There’s a T206 Ty Cobb tobacco card, a 1958 Jim Brown rookie card – you mean I can own these now? Also, some of these cards that I previously thought of as “overpopulated,” like a Ryne Sandberg or John Elway rookie, are actually scarce and highly desirable in PSA Gem Mint 10 condition.
To read this article in its entirety, please click here.
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A Perfect Lesson Fifty Years Later
by Mike DeNero
(Published May 26, 2009)
My friend says I am obsessed with Harvey Haddix, but I don’t think he’s right. However, as I put pen to paper, and somehow simultaneously read the trailing lines of my composition, I realize that if I truly protest my friend’s opinion, I would have written that he’s dead wrong. But I didn’t. Thus, the realist in me is compelled to question whether I have crossed that delicate boundary between healthy curiosity and obsession.
But, if obsession is the appropriate descriptive term for my level of curiosity, I believe that there must also exist varying levels of obsession. Regardless, like Benjamin Franklin said of rebellion, a healthy obsession, every now and then, can be a good thing. Suffice it to say, I have been telling people for weeks that we were fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the greatest game ever pitched – that anniversary is today, May 26, 2009. And as you might have guessed, Harvey Haddix pitched that game.
To read this essay in its entirety, please click here.
Thoughts on the Passing of a Fellow Collector
by Mike DeNero
(Published July 24, 2009)
I debated whether I, a mere sportscard collector turned dealer, should attempt to eulogize Michael Jackson, the "King of Pop." After all, other people are far better equipped for the task than me -- plus, ours is only a sportscards e-Newsletter and accompanying blog. But by trolling the Internet the night of his untimely death, I quickly realized that our blog (i.e., a blog about collecting and collectors) is quite appropriate, as Michael Jackson was one of us -- yes, the King of Pop was a collector to the degree that most of us can only dream of.
By the time I was six-years-old (1976), I was spending my entire weekly allowance (fifty cents) on baseball and football cards. Because of my limited "income" at the time, my insatiable appetite for sportscards was far from quenched. I remember vividly a recurring dream of my childhood -- it involved me walking down to the local five-and-dime with my little red wagon in tow and, upon my arrival, discovering that the waxpacks of cards were free and that the store’s saintly proprietors were allowing me to take as many packs (and even boxes full of waxpacks) as my wagon could hold. The image of me walking home with my little red wagon full of cards is as vivid as any of my actual childhood memories.
As one of the greatest spenders of money in the history of that noble pastime, Michael Jackson lived my childhood dream … hundreds and possibly thousands of times. If you have ever seen the film footage of the King of Pop in a certain Las Vegas antique shop -- "I’ll take two of these, six of these … I’ll take one of these … wait, is that a painting of Apollo? I’ll take that too …" -- you know exactly what I mean. Yes, Michael Jackson was the quintessential collector; from comic books to antiques, from prized entertainment and popular culture memorabilia to Disneyana, he was one of the biggest collectors in the world. As such, Michael Jackson knew the thrill of suddenly finding something, a collectible, that he had to own, even though he knew not of its existence seconds before -- the essence of the collecting addiction. You and I know that feeling, too. Yes, there is a little Michael Jackson in all of us.
To read this essay in its entirety, please click here.
Card Prices Among The Economic Chaos
by Mike DeNero
(Published November 13, 2008)
Lately, I have spoken with many of our customers, and potential consignors, who have asked me whether I have noticed a temporary lull in sales or in the general reduction of prices of sportscards sold in various auctions. In short, we have yet to notice a discernible correlation between the vintage sportscards market and the stock market.
To illustrate, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 13,930 on Halloween of 2007 and 9,336 on Halloween of 2008. Therefore, the Dow dropped 4,594 points (roughly 33%) over that 365 day period. Considering the magnitude of the drop, we decided to conduct some brief non-scientific research to determine whether we could find evidence of a comparable drop in auction prices of vintage sportscards during that same October/November2007 to October 2008 time period.
To read this essay in its entirety, please click here.
Start Spreadin' the Fantastic News!
by Mike C. DeNero
(Published February 2009)
As Wall Street crumbles and the Main Street choir bellows the blues around street fires kindled with pink slips and worthless stock certificates, the ghost of Paul Revere blazes frantically across the recession-depleted countryside on a steroid-fueled palomino galloping on corked horseshoes and screams at the top of his lungs, "Baseball is coming! Baseball is coming!" "Beware," the headlines intone in macabre print. As the Dow Jones plummets and unemployment soars, more steroid scandal this way comes, just in time for baseball season, and this time it directly implicates some of the best baggers in the history of our national pastime. The blue sky has given way to heavy, dark clouds. Smells like acid rain.
Imminent perjury charges loom over the allegedly Rocket-fueled Clemens. Positive steroid tests were unsealed in a legal matter involving Bobby Bonds' kid -- you know, the irascible one who broke that record. Miguel Tejada lay prostrate and sobbing through an interpreter after pleading guilty to perjury. Alex [insert favorite pejorative nickname] Rodriguez took time away from "yoga" with Madonna to admit he juiced up and lied. And then there’s the remaining 103 names on the "confidential" list of 104 and, of course, the Mitchell Report and its lingering cast of deadbeats. All this, remember, on top of a recent history replete with congressional hearings, Slammin’ Sammy’s corked bat, and Charlie Hustle’s gambling habit.
To read this essay in its entirety, please click here.
Fiction (Sports-Related)
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Boys Trip Destination: Texas
by Mike C. DeNero
Every year, two of my groomsman and I say adieu to our families for a weekend to attend a Dallas Cowboys road game. Like our hero, Bob Lilly, we still bleed silver and blue. And unlike our beloved team, we have terrorized opponents’ stadiums for the last several years and forged solid-gold memories along the way. Making an exception this year to our traditional road game selection, we decided to attend the inaugural game at the new $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, where the Cowboys hosted the N.Y. Giants on September 20.
Most of us in the group now have children, and our hall passes are limited. Our wives characterize these weekend getaways as “boondoggles,” and when we return they exact punitive comeuppance. Our road trips, then, don’t just include Cowboys games. We build in other sporting events to maximize our opportunity. In 2007, for example, we scheduled the following lineup: Pirates v. Cubs (Wrigley Field); Michigan State v. Notre Dame (South Bend); and Cowboys v. Bears (Soldier Field). This year we had a comparable theme: Angels vs. Rangers (Ballpark at Arlington); Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns (Memorial Stadium, or whatever they call it these days); and Giants vs. Cowboys (Cowboys Stadium).
To read this piece in its entirety, please click here.
Articles Essays Fiction (Sport-Related)