Sunday, April 08, 2001

Prize possessions

Baseball memories live on in collection

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Steve Wolter, 59, of East Walnut Hills, the President of Sports Investments Inc., and an incurable baseball fan.

        What: His extensive collection of sports memorabilia, collectibles and cards.

[photo] Steve Wolter shows his Reds opening day ticket from April 18, 1895
(Enquirer photo)
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        Where: In the private “museum” he has created in the condominium he shares with wife, Kim and their cats, Steffie and Tigger.

        On display: Hundreds of rare and unusual treasures such as: a ticket for the Cincinnati Base Ball Club opening day game on April 18, 1895; the only authenticated signed photo of Shoeless Joe Jackson from 1910; authentic World Series rings; and an oversized “King Klu” bat given to legendary Reds first baseman Ted Kluszewski by the Findlay Market Association in 1955.

        Play ball: “I started playing with baseball cards when I was 8 years old,” recalls Mr. Wolter, a Delhi native. “I was a pretty good "flipper' so I won a lot.”

        He then did what many people wish they had done: He kept the cards.

        Home run: “In the early 1970s I went to my first card show,” he explains. “That's when I realized that the cards I had kept were worth decent money. The condition was marginal, because we had "flipped' them, so I traded them in for a fewer number of higher condition cards.”

        Big red machine: The first piece of memorabilia Mr. Wolter purchased was a red Corvette the Cincinnati Reds presented to Pete Rose for breaking Ty Cobb's hit record. The second was the bat and ball Mr. Rose used to break the record.

        Walter Mitty: Growing up, Mr. Wolter, the former president of Frederick Rauh & Company Insurance Agency, dreamed of a major league baseball career.

        “"Didn't every kid?” he says with a grin. “But I never got beyond playing ball in high school. So, the way I connect with it is to buy the stuff that represents it. In that way I become a part of it.

        “That's why I bought Pete's bat and ball . . . of all the ballplayers that I ever saw, Pete Rose was the one that was the most motivated, had the biggest desire to win and the greatest work ethic. Plus all of that was with limited natural abilities. I felt like what he did in baseball, I did in insurance, because I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm highly motivated.

        “That's what that bat and ball represent to me. It's my way of being that hitter.”

       What are your prize possessions? Show them off by writing to Marsie Hall Newbold, c/o Tempo, Prize Possessions, The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., 45202 or e-mail


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