I think everyone can agree that connections help make just about everything in life a little bit easier. Well, the same holds true for collecting baseball cards. Especially when you have such a narrowed focus for your collection as I do. That's one reason I cherish the relationships I've built in this hobby.
Back on July 12th, I received a notification from my site alerting me to an email I received from a gentleman named Ron. Ron was reaching out to me to let me know he had an extensive Rolen collection that he was looking to liquidate and he was seeking my help with making some decisions about his collection.
Ron also explained how he had found me and my Rolen collection. As it turns out, Ron is from Jasper, IN - Rolen's hometown. Well, it just so happens that I have purchased other great Rolen cards from Jasper from another collector named Bob. Ron and Bob both collected Rolen cards together and Bob had given Ron my information! Without that connection, this acquisition would have never been possible! (Big thank you to Bob for passing along my info!)
Back to the collection. After some emailing back and forth, Ron and I agreed that the best way for me to assess the collection would be for him to send me some pictures of the items in his collection. In the pictures that Ron sent me, I could see that it was much more than just baseball cards. There were a couple of huge boxes of cards (all Scott Rolen), magazines, coins, tins, wall hangers, newspaper clippings, a mini bat, and all kinds of other great treasures! After seeing the pictures Ron sent me, I just knew that I wanted this collection to become part of my collection.
Ron said that he would prefer to sell everything all together in one transaction, but without knowing what cards were in those big boxes, I couldn't give a fair assessment of value for either of us. That's when Julie got involved.
Julie is Ron's daughter. She happens to live in Jasper as well, so she was enlisted to help Ron go through all of the cards and get them organized and entered into their online Beckett account. I know, I know, Beckett?! I originally thought the same thing. But for cataloging a collection, Beckett worked out quite well. They were able to share Ron's collection list with me very easily so I could see what cards were there.
But the Beckett prices? I know. I personally haven't used Beckett for pricing cards since about 1998. It was a great resource back before everyone was using the internet and sites like ebay. But we needed somewhere to start as far as getting an idea of the overall value of the collection. And why not start where it all started for me? I certainly didn't want to run comps on all of these cards one-by-one.
After a handful of emails back and forth and the daily grind of life for everyone involved, Julie sent me another email on August 23rd. That email contained an updated list with a majority of the cards in the collection on it. After seeing that list, I was beyond excited! There were some cards on that list that I consider to be some of the most sought after cards in the hobby. A few of them were what I consider to be "grail cards." Cards that I have wanted for so long but only ever seen one, maybe two, sell in all the years I've been collecting Scott Rolen cards. Cards like this 1998 Metal Universe - Precious Metal Gems!
I had some work to do. I took the list Julie sent me of Ron's cards and compared it to my own checklist. After pouring over the list multiple times, checking and double checking the Beckett list compared to my checklist, I finally came up with a list of cards that I definitely wanted for my personal collection. I emailed that information back to Julie and asked her to consult with Ron about a price he would be comfortable with.
A few short days later, I got an email back from Julie. She said that Ron wanted to sell the entire collection together; all of the cards and all of the memorabilia I had seen in the pictures he sent me. Back to the Beckett pricing. Remember how I said that we were using that as a starting point for the pricing of the collection? Well, after seeing what the Beckett "high book" value was, Ron cut that by over half and put a price out there for the entire collection.
Enter: my wife. I had been talking with my wife about the possibility of purchasing this entire collection since the day I received the pictures of everything from Ron. She doesn't know baseball cards. She doesn't know anything about the value of baseball cards. But what she does know is me! She could tell that I was incredibly excited about potentially adding this amazing collection to my own. So when I told her what Ron's asking price was, she said, "I think you should do it!" That's all I needed to send Julie and Ron an email back letting them know that I agreed with the asking price.
After the price was agreed upon, I let them know that for a collection of this size, I would much prefer to just pick it up in person. After all, Jasper isn't that far from me. We agreed to meet up at the Police Station in Jasper on September 10th.
Since Jasper is about four hours from me, with an added hour for the time change, I had to leave my house at 8:00am to get there for our agreed upon meeting time. I was up well before that anyway because I was more excited than a kid on Christmas morning sitting there looking at a present wrapped up that looks like a bicycle! So I left the house and began the 255 mile trek to pick up one of the single most impressive Rolen collections I had ever seen!
I got to the Police Station a little bit later than expected due to some unforeseen traffic near Indianapolis. But once I arrived, I met Ron, Julie, and Julie's husband, Chris. They had the entire Rolen collection in the bed of the truck and all I could think was, "I can't wait to get this stuff home and go through every...single...piece!"
As I was thumbing through the cards, Ron pointed out a couple of error cards. Like this 1998 Stadium Club Joey Cora card. It has Scott's name in foil on the front of the card. It is truly the little things like this that make super collecting a player really fun and exciting for me. How many collectors out there would really appreciate something like this enough to keep it in their collection for all of these years? Ron did! And I am really happy that he did because now this card is in my collection! Matt, if you're reading this, sorry, but this one is not for trade or sale.
Here is another piece from the collection that I thought was really cool. It probably isn't worth much to anyone but a true Scott Rolen fan. It is a simple program made commemorating "Scott Rolen Day" in Jasper back on February 3, 1998 as proclaimed by Mayor William J. Schmitt. Inside the packet is Scott's biography from the MLB website along with a page talking about Scott's unanimous NL Rookie of the Year bid. It talks about the then 22-year-old Rolen being first on all 28 ballots in voting by baseball writers for a maximum of 140 points. It also mentions that he was just the eighth unanimous winner of the National League Rookie of the Year honor. Ron said they also passed out copies of the 1998 Pinnacle Inside base card seen here.
Technology is great, isn't it? That is until it doesn't work like you want it to. After chatting with Ron, Julie, and Chris for a while, going through all of these new treasures, it was time to pay. We had agreed to use Venmo, but for some reason my Venmo just was not wanting to work. I asked if they had PayPal instead, and Julie was awesome enough to dust off her old PayPal account and accept my payment that way.
After the payment was confirmed and the collection was being transferred over to my truck, we quickly realized that one piece of the collection just was not going to fit. It was a life size poster of Scott on a foam board backer. A piece that would be absolutely perfect to hang on the door to my office! If only I had a bed cover for my truck. But since I don't, they agreed to hold onto that piece for me until we can meet up again at a later date.
After everything was transferred over, Chris asked if I had a little bit of time to take in some sights. He mentioned the baseball field where Scott used to play and of course I had time to see where it all started! It was just a short drive from the Police Station and we were there.
Outside of the field, along the fence line, are several of these baseball plaques. Scott has a couple of them hanging up. One for being Mr. Baseball in 1993, along with another one for being inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame in 2019.
It was a long drive to Jasper. And I knew it would seem like an even longer drive home with all of these new pieces for my collection in my truck, just waiting for me to look through them all. So I hit the road and headed back north. While I was driving home, I couldn't help but think about the interaction I had with Ron, Julie, and Chris. How fitting it was to meet a collector like Ron, who happened to be from Jasper. The same place that Scott grew up. I had a great time talking to them about Jasper, Scott Rolen, baseball cards, and even a little Larry Bird. I may be a little biased in saying this, but some of the best people come from Indiana!
I want to give a special thanks to Ron. The curator and keeper of this amazing collection for so many years. You could tell that this collection was put together with love and care. I know you said you enjoyed looking through the cards; and while they may no longer physically be in your possession, feel free to take a scroll through the galleries here to see some of your favorites from time to time. I will strive to be as good a steward as you were!
Another special thanks goes to Julie and Chris. They helped Ron sort through all of the cards, organize everything, and get them all listed on Beckett. They did a phenomenal job identifying a lot of cards that are typically misidentified. I believe Julie mentioned how great of a time they had sorting through the 1998 Topps Tek cards in particular.
And of course, my wife. Without her support I would have never thought about purchasing this once in a lifetime collection. She recognized my excitement and told me that I had to buy this collection.
If you've made it this far, I'm sure you want to see the rest of the cards that I was able to add to The Rolen Collection. Well, sit back, and enjoy!
With this collection added to mine, I was able to add over 60 new unique cards to the collection! I was also able to cross off multiple cards from my Most Wanted list. And I was able to complete the run of 1999 Topps Tek. This collection also brought me to single digit needs in my quest to complete the run of 1998 Topps Tek cards. Not to mention all of the other awesome items that aren't cards! There is an uncut sheet of 1995 Reading Phillies Eastern League Champs Team Issue cards that I plan on getting framed to hang on the wall. And this bobblehead of Rolen as a Jasper Wildcat is absolutely incredible! It is quite possibly my favorite piece that isn't a card.
Thank you for taking the time to read about this incredible collection that Ron built over the years!