We are the Other - Jerry, South Minneapolis, Minnesota (2012)
When Jerry was a kid his parents would let him have any toy he wanted on his birthday and Christmas. But only one toy. “C’mon now!” he exclaims, some 40 years later, the anguish still in his voice. He would pore over the “Wish Books” put out by Sears, JC Penney and Montgomery Wards for his one present, which was often a piece of baseball memorabilia.
He got hooked on baseball cards when he was 12, winning them when shooting marbles with the neighborhood kids. During televised baseball games he would prop them up next to the TV, matching the card to the player on the screen so he could connect with them in a personal way. “Maybe I was the only kid who did that,” he says.
Then he went to college, got a job and could finally afford all the things he couldn’t as a kid. He worked twenty years as a sales rep for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and every time he got that commission check he’d head to a flea market, rummage sale, thrift store or antique mart, constantly adding to his conglomeration: toys from the 50s and 60s, Japanese Tin Friction Cars, coins, GI Joe, model car kits, Star Wars paraphernalia, and most of all, sports cards.
Because he would buy sports cards by the boxful faster than he could look at them, his attic is now filled with piles of unopened cartons. His collection consists of 300,000 baseball cards, and if you add all the basketball, football, hockey cards, it totals a half a million, not to mention all the other toys.
He delights in talking about the history and culture that his cards represent, and gives away a lot of it in an effort to share his wealth. He is now retired and spends six days a week, often several times a day, at the Blue Ox, getting online to trade and buy more stuff on eBay and other sites.
He never married. “I can’t imagine a woman who would put up with all this,” he says laughing. “I had a girlfriend. She kicked me out because my stuff was filling up her house. I don’t blame her.”
For this first time in his life he is displaying some of the results of his life-long obsession at the Blue Ox (pictured here) with a 50-piece exhibition that has a Minnesota sports related theme. He has another exhibition lined up at the Knights of Columbus in Bloomington, Minnesota. Next Saturday, April 7, from noon to 2 pm, Jerry will host a Minnesota sports trivia event at the Blue Ox. Anyone who orders a cup of coffee will get a free baseball card of a Hall of Famer.