The first time I saw a collection with a pedigree, it was 2006, when SGC marked all the Frank Nagy Collection cards. Nagy was a legendary collector, a hobby legend with a collection that was massive in scope. By adding the Nagy Collection pedigree, SGC ensured that collectors who chose to keep their cards in the holder would ensure that Nagy’s cards would be Nagy’s in perpetuity, and that a winner of any of Nagy’s cards would be able to boast ownership of cards once owned by a hobby pioneer.
Other collectors followed suit and had their collections pedigreed – the Steve Soloway collection was pedigreed by PSA. Soloway is a member of the PSA Hall of Fame with another massive collection of top notch cards, and when pieces of the collection were sold off, collectors were happy to own a piece (we are featuring one of Soloway’s cards in our February auction). More famously, the Lionel Carter collection gave collectors the opportunity to acquire 1930s gum cards that were kept in pristine condition, pulled right out of packs and painstakingly filed away in albums. A Carter-pedigreed card did not just serve as a badge of ownership of a piece of a hobby pioneer’s collection, it also served as a badge of a true high-grade card, likely untouched and unblemished by modern card doctors.
Cards have also been pedigreed that were once owned by professional athletes. We’ll have a few of those in our February auction as well – cards owned by Ted Williams, Lou Burdette, Robin Roberts, and more. We’ve seen cards owned by Eddie Collins, Casey Stengel, Harmon Killebrew, and many others as well. Owning a card once owned by a pro athlete is a way of drawing us closer to that player – a way of owning a piece of his childhood, or one of his memories. Indeed, the opportunity to own a card once owned by a hobby pioneer, a major collector, or a pro athlete has caused an entire new hobby segment to spring up: collectors of pedigreed cards.
But why pedigree the Rudy Strejc Collection?
Rudy Strejc was not a hobby pioneer. He did not devote his live to cataloging cards, filing them meticulously in binders, acquiring the most rare examples or building the most complete collection. He didn’t keep his cards in mint condition – far from it, actually. He didn’t complete any sets. He wasn’t a young collector who eventually grew up to become a famous athlete, and he wasn’t a famous athlete who collected cards of himself.
Rudy Strejc was a boy who grew up in Portland, Oregon during the tobacco era. Like many other kids, he collected cards as a kid, and continued to dabble in the hobby as he got older. He traveled the country for his union job, and as an enlisted man, and he acquired cards wherever he went – Obaks on the West Coast, T206s in the East. He handled his cards. Surely, he kept them in his pockets. As a kid, he likely punched spindle holes in them and tied them together with string (as many other kids did).
Essentially, Rudy Strejc collected cards the way they were meant to be collected. He collected because he loved them. Sure, he loved baseball, but he also loved all sorts of paper ephemera. His collection included cards of movie stars (a hoard of T85s are part of the collection), boxers, birds and ballplayers. His collection included more than 270 T212 Obaks, but it also included (among other things) a near set of T77 Light House cards, a group of 1892 Duke Cigarettes Floral Beauties cards, and about 100 T206s, mostly with Old Mill backs.
Rudy Strejc was a collector. A regular kid, a regular guy, who held onto his cards for his entire life.
I still have most of my childhood collection. Most of my hobby friends do, too. It was the passion and nostalgia for those childhood collections that drew many of us back to the hobby as adults. It’s that passion – that Love of the Game – that got this company started in the first place. Rudy Strejc represents all the things that are good about the hobby. He represents the passion we’ve all had for it, the enthusiasm with which we collect, and our love of the hobby.
For those reasons, there’s not a better auction house to offer the Rudy Strejc Collection.
At the Love of the Game booth at the Philly Show earlier this month, we were visited by bunches of kids, walking the floor with their dads. Occasionally, one would look at the cards in the Rudy Strejc Collection case we had on display. I watched their eyes widen as they saw the names: Ty Cobb. Cy Young. Walter Johnson. These kids weren’t looking at the grades on the holders, or the sharpness of the corners – they were looking at the names and the pictures on the cards. And they’d listen as we told them the story of Rudy Strejc, a kid who collected cards in the early 1900s, who chased after cards of his favorite players – just like you do – and who loved them so much, he saved them for his entire life.
Those kids, and their dads, were all captivated.
Rudy Strejc wasn’t a pioneer, a massive collector, or a pro athlete. Rudy Strejc represents the rest of us. And to us, there’s no better reason to put Rudy Strejc’s name on some of his cards. We hope you agree, and we hope you’re able to add a few of his cards to your collection.