Sunday, March 23, 2003

Fans catch memories


Three share passion for Reds and love of collections

By Marsie Hall Newbold Enquirer Contributor

If there were ever a time to get excited about baseball in Cincinnati, this is it. Opening Day 2003 will kick off a new season, inaugurate a new ballpark and give baseball memorabilia collectors the opportunity to acquire items that will hold their memories for a lifetime.

What do local baseball collectors now treasure? Let's find out:

[photo] Danny Gilbert remembers the Crosley Field days. His photo is of the 1961 Reds.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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Family historian

Who: Danny Gilbert, 47, of Morning View, Ky., a warehouse manager for Johnny's Toys who has amassed an impressive number of baseball-related items, yet doesn't think of himself as a "collector."

What: "I'm just another Reds fan," he says. "Most of the things that I have that mean the most to me are ticket stubs from games that are special to me for various reasons. For example: I was in the stadium when Pete hit 4,192; I was there when Tom Seaver pitched a no-hitter and when Hank Aaron tied Babe Ruth's home run record."

For example: Gilbert also owns "a few" baseball cards, photographs and a Joe Nuxall autograph that his dad got for him when he was 5 or 6.

Where: In his office at work and in a closet at home.

Play ball! Some of Gilbert's earliest memories are of sitting with his dad out in the yard under the shade trees listening to the Reds "on the transistor radio. I can remember Dad talking about his favorites. ... Ewell Blackwell and Johnny Vandermeer. He also took me to Crosley Field, and I can vaguely remember seeing Gus Bell and Ted Kluszewski."

Generation to generation: Baseball is still a family affair at the Gilbert residence. Gilbert and his wife, Connie, are the parents of Aaron, 23; Nathan, 20; and Zachary, 15. "We're all avid baseball fans," he says, "That's the beauty of it, sharing it with my sons. All four of us play on a softball team together.

"They do a fantasy league, and yesterday it was just hours and hours of baseball in our house. I was telling them about the old days ... about how I saw Johnny Bench and Pete Rose do this and that. They looked at me the way I guess I looked at my dad. Now, I'm the historian."

[photo] Collecting baseball items "makes me feel like a little kid," says Dick Hinds of Wyoming. The baseball he's resting on includes player autographs.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
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Thousands of items

Who: Dick Hinds, 69, of Wyoming, a retired accountant who has been collecting baseball souvenirs for 35 years.

On display: What he describes as "a couple of thousand items" including: signed baseballs; uniforms; autographed bats; endorsed gloves; stadium seats; hats and bats.

Where: In every room of the home he shares with Carolyn, his wife of 33 years. "Everything used to be in the basement," he explains with a mischievous grin, "but I finally talked her into letting me `creep' the collection upstairs."

Remember with me: Memories for the Monroe native include his grandmother taking him on bus trips to Crosley Field. "We were real strong Cincinnati Reds fans," he says. "I can remember listening to the games on radio all summer. They had this one program called Fans in the Stands with Dick Bray and I was on the show. He asked where I was from and who my favorite ballplayer was."

Legends: "I think I said Frank McCormick," he adds. "That was before the Kluszewski era. I always liked first basemen."

As an adult, he owns items commemorating some of his heroes' greatest accomplishments. They include Kluszewski's Most Valuable Player trophy for his performance during the 1954 season in which he led the National League in home runs, and the trophy he was given for being the Big Red Machine's batting coach in the 1976 World Series.

Hinds has even acquired seats from the former Cinergy Field with numbers that correspond to those of the players on the Big Red Machine. The only problem was that the seat numbers ended at 18. "So, I contacted the company that made the seats," he explains. "They made me up numbers for Tony Perez (24), Cesar Geronimo (20) and Ken Griffey Sr. (30)."

Hinds' passion for collectibles takes him and his wife to flea markets, antique shows, advertising shows and sports conventions throughout the country. "It makes me feel like a little kid to find something," he says.

[photo] Wes Kinman gets out his cards at the start of every season.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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"Mostly cards"

Who: Wes Kinman, 39, of Covington, who works in inventory control for Johnny's Toys and claims to have been a baseball fan from the time he was old enough to walk.

On display: "Mostly cards," he says. "That's what I was really into when I was a kid."

Where: In albums that he keeps at home and pulls out at the start of every baseball season.

Field of dreams: "When the air gets warm and the players go down to spring training," he says, "that's when the baseball cards come out. All the memories of childhood come back."

Those include his dad taking him to his first Cincinnati Reds baseball game at Crosley Field when he was 5 years old. His dad caught a foul ball. But his son wasn't there to see it because his mom had taken him to the restroom. "It bounced from his hands into an old lady behind him," he says with a chuckle. "Six years later we moved and lost the ball. That's sad, but the memory's still there."

Drink up: Kinman financed his baseball card collection by redeeming soft drink bottles at the neighborhood store.

"I'd get mad at Mom if she bought soft drinks in cans," he says. "Everyone in the family knew to buy bottles so I could take them down to Pete's."

Thrill of the hunt: Kinman treasures one card in particular. "I can still remember the day I got it," he says. "I was 8 years old. I had been collecting for two years before then, but never got a Johnny Bench card. One of the first packs I bought had a Johnny Bench card on top. I went running down the street, screaming to my mom and anybody who would listen that I had a Johnny Bench card.

"When you have a memory like that, it never leaves you."

Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202; e-mail: marsolete@aol.com. Please include a daytime telephone number.




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