QUESTION: Where are you from and
how did you get your present job?
ANSWER: I was born, raised and
educated in Wisconsin. I got my present job by urging Krause
Publications, for whom I have worked since 1977, to enter the
sportscard periodical market in 1980. I grew with the hobby and
our participation in it from editor to publisher to vice president.
Those promotions took me further and further away from hands-on
work such as researching and writing features, so when the company
went to an employee-owned status several years ago and I sold
my personal stock holdings I was able to semi-retire and create
a job for myself doing what I like best, research and writing.
QUESTION : How do you like living
in Iola Wisconsin? What are the sights to see and things to do?
Is it Dairy country?
ANSWER: Iola is definitely dairy
country, almost exactly in the center of the state. It is a small
town, about 1,200 people. Over the years I have become less a
fan of small-town living, principally due to the cliquish status
of "natives" and the lack of choices in shopping, dining,
socializing, health care, etc. Iola is best known for its annual
collector car show in July, drawing tens of thousands of hobbyists
and tourists and filling the coffers of local and area charitable
Q: Are you a natural fan of baseball cards, or is it more of
A: I was a baseball card collector
from age 3 (1954) through about 12; then again from 27 or so
to date. In the late Fifties I also collected football and non-sports
Q: Are you a collector, baseball
or otherwise? What interests you?
A: I retain a wide card and baseball
memorabilia collecting interest, principally in the 1950s, vintage
minor league items and selected 1990s inserts (I'm working on
the 90 variations each of regular and defractor 1998 Topps Tek
Javy Lopez). I also avidly collect the "animal rug"
cigar felts of the 1910s.
Q: Do you have a favorite era or type of baseball card?
A: Definitely 1950s, Topps, Bowman
and various regionals of the time.
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite
player and team?
A: The Milwaukee Braves have
always been my favorite team. My all-time favorite player changes
as careers end, evolving from George Crowe to Gorman Thomas,
Razor Shines, Mark Lemke and Javy Lopez.
Q: On your business card, your
job title is 'Editor of the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards.'
I also know you write baseball articles for some of the Krause
publications. Are you involved in other areas, or are you just
centered around the catalog?
A: Editing the SCBC and possible
spin-off titles was my principal focus for the past several years.
I'll now be more active in writing for SCD.
Q: How many people assist you
in your job?
A: I don't have any "assistants,"
but can rely on the time and expertise of Joe Clemens, Tom Hultman
and others on our editorial and price guide staffs; plus I have
the benefit of Krause's large computer services division (which
has been creating and refining the notion of computer modeling
of card prices for nearly 20 years), along with production and
support staffs. Besides these in-house assets I have many contributors
of data and price guide information from throughout the hobby's
collector and dealer fraternity.
Q: How do you decide what newly
discovered issues will be included in the checklist? Are there
times when extra proof of authenticity is required for an unusual
A: As the big book has reached
nearly 1,700 pages I now try to prioritize additions to present
those of greatest potential interest to CARD collectors. Pins,
buttons, team-issues, etc., are likely to get less emphasis than
in the past. Reports of new discoveries are always taken with
a grain of salt. I strongly consider who is doing the reporting.
If necessary, I will personally examine discoveries to satisfy
myself of authenticity.
Q: If someone has an unusual
card or important information, what is the best way to contact
A; I prefer an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)
with a jpeg scan attached. U.S. Mail (700 E. State St., Iola,
WI 54990) with a photocopy is good, too. Because I most often
have to see an item about which an inquiry is being made, phone
and fax aren't very useful.
Q: Have there ever been attempted
hoaxes, trying to get made up cards in the catalog?
A: Not directly, that I'm aware
of, though there have been a lot of fakes introduced into the
marketplace that I'm sure the responsible parties would have
liked to get cataloged. Things like the 1959-1960 Gulf Oil, the
1923 Neilson's Chocolates and the 1910s Kendig Chocolates.
Q: For vintage issues that have
been known to exist for some time but are not included in the
catalog, at what point are they included? Is it when enough data
is accumulated, or, considering the workload, when you get around
A: The addition of legitimate
vintage sets is my number one priority; I'll usually drop everything
else to get something like that into our data base. What holds
up most vintage listings is a complete or nearly-so checklist
and physical description along with a photo.
Q: For ultra-rare cards that have not been sold yet, how do come
up with a price for the catalog?
A: We get few examples of such
cards, since a public sale is often the first time we hear of
them. When faced with a rarity that hasn't been on the market
we begin with our computer modeling, apply the expertise of our
in-house and external contributors and, as a last resort, include
the listing with a notation that current retail pricing cannot
Q: Amongst T206 collectors, there
is always debate over what is a true variation ('Magie' error)
versus what is just a freakish printing error (ghost overprints).
For example, some say the Nodgrass (no 'S') is a true variation
and others says it's a printing error that should not be included
as part of a set. Do you have a specific philosophy concerning
this, or do you just play it by ear?
A: Specifically in T206, our
checklist is complete as it stands since the addition of the
Doyle "Nat'l". The hobby has had 90+ years to sortout
what is or isn't an intended design variation in T206. We know
a great deal about how the set was produced and issued and I
have no problem distinguishing, at least in my own mind, a variation
from a printing error.
Q: Do you have a special computer program to handle all the data
for the price guide?
A: Absolutely, we created our
initial Baseball Cards Magazine price guide on an AS400 program
in 1980. It has been updated continually since. While it will
one day be replaced with some new state of the art technology,
I'm not sure it will be improved upon.
Q: In the last few years, Beckett
has come out with their 'big book' baseball cards price guide.
What do you think of it?
A: The Almanac is an excellent
resource. Obviously a huge percentage of the material covered
in its pages duplicates what can be found in the Standard Catalog.
They have many listing which we have not, or do not, publish,
just as we have many listings they do not carry. We have several
basic differences in the manner in which we handle listings and,
of course, our price listings. We are comfortable that the collector
and dealer can make a decision on which book best suits their
Q: While there are a number of
different Peck & Snyder Trade Cards, only the 1869 Cincinnati
Red Stockings is listed. Is there a specific reason for that,
or will the other Trade Cards be added later?
A: We added several (perhaps
all) of the Peck & Snyder cards to the 2002 Standard Catalog,
as information on current retail value became available. They
hadn't received too great a priority in the past because of their
Q: I notice that a number of well known and commonly bought/sold
19th century comic trade cards aren't listed-Forbes, Merchant's
Gargling Oil, Spalding Die-Cut. Will these be added?
A: We've added a few of these
to our data base when complete set checklists and current values
have become available but because these do not depict actual
ballplayers it is not a priority with us to get those listings
Q: While the catalog has always covered some non-cards (Armour
andSalada Coins, Sweet Caporal Pins, 1968 Sports Illustrated
Posters), I notice that the proliferation of non-cards. Is this
a conscious approach?
A: It was conscious in that these
items were virtually the only way to expand the vintage section
since virtually all of the "cards" prior to 1980 have
now been cataloged. We have reached a page count of nearly 1,700,
a practical limit in terms of size and weight in our current
paper stock. With 10,000 or more cards forthcoming from the major
manufacturers each year, we have to consider de-listing those
collectibles which least fit into the definition of "baseball
Q: In recent memory, has there been some new card discovery,
or one that you saw for the first time, that that you though
was particularly unusual or interesting?
A: The circa 1870 Troy Haymakers
carte de visites was a great discovery in that it was the first
time, at least to my knowledge, that a team-set card issue had
been undertaken. I get very excited whenever a new 1950s Globe
Printing minor league set surfaces such as the 1951-54 Sioux
City Soos Globe cards, postcards and photo album we first saw
earlier this year.
Q: Will there be a future edition
of the book, 'Sportscard Counterfeit Detector'?
A: No. The book was commercially
unsuccessful. Who'd have thought that with an estimated 25,000
card "dealers" in the early 1990s, and the proliferation
of counterfeits that could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars,
that a $15 book to protect oneself wouldn't sell? We now publish
this information in the pages of SCD as it becomes available.
Q: Do you think Pete Rose and/or
Shoeless Joe Jackson should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
A: I could write and essay on
each. The short answer is that until such time as either or both
are removed from baseball's ineligible list, they should not
be in the Hall of Fame.
Q: What are some of your favorite
baseball cards of all time?
A: The 1954 Topps Hank Aaron,
the 1955 Johnston Cookie George Crowe, the 1957 Dodgers' Sluggers,
the 1959 Roy Campanella Symbol of Courage, and my number one
favorite, the Old Judge Art Whitney with dog.
Q: Do you ever wish there weren't
so many baseball cards?
A: No. The proliferation of cards
and the manner in which they have been issued over the past 10
years has made it impossible to have a "complete" collection,
has ruined the concept of set-building and made impossible the
quest of single-player collectors, but it offers the collector
an unprecedented bounty from which to create his own collecting
specialty. As at a smorgasbord, the collector can pick and chose
those items which appeal to his taste.
Q: When you are away from your job, how do you spend your free
A: Being relatively disabled,
I'm not very active. I enjoy reading (often about baseball) and
television. Since so much of my work day is spent on the computer,
I almost never access the computer at home.
Q: When the catalog gets too
big for you to lift, is that when it's time to retire?
A: Since I greatly enjoy what
I do, retirement is a relative concept. I see an immediate challenge
in holding the line at our current size and packing in the most
useful information possible, changing as the hobby and the market
change. It wouldn't take much of a hobby resurgence to convince
us to break out the non-card collectibles into a separate volume,
or creating two volumes based on issue dates or other criteria.
So I don't foresee running out of things to do.