By Richard Burns
*The article was originally published in The Oxford SO & SO
It recently came to my attention that the giant baseball card magazine, Sports Collectors Digest, a large weekly national publication with 50,000 circulation, had made several references to the monthly baseball card magazine I published from 1964-1970: The Sports Trader. (Their article ran in early 2010.)
The article was by George Vrechek. It gave a history of baseball card magazines from 1930 through the 1970’s and “ST” was mentioned favorably several times. (You can read the entire article by going to Yahoo search engine and type in and type in: “The Sports Trader, George Vrechek.”
The first mention was in a listing of nine influential magazines during that time. The Sports Trader was one of the nine. The second mention picks up where the publisher of Sports Collectors News (another old-time, defunct magazine) fills writer Vrechek in on some of the history.
SCN states that “The publication with the largest circulation in 1968 was The Sports Trader with 1,000 circulation.” That is true, but at one time it had 1,200 and then (due to mismanagement) the circulation started dropping. It was not helped by the start of another magazine with the name of The Trader Speaks and they were CONSISTENT. (My Sports Trader had the letters to the editor titled: “Traders Talk Back”. The Trader Speaks used ST’S “Traders Talk Back” as inspiration for it’s unusual name.)
I have seen speculation through the years with people wondering why the highly successful Trader Speaks had such a peculiar name. Now you know what most of them don’t know. The article also mentions how in 1968 I was voted “Collector of the Year”.
This award was a farce: The award came from rival Sports Collectors News who reported that yours truly had gotten 121 votes compared to runner-up (the publisher of the magazine giving the award) who had received 118 votes. This gave that publisher bragging rights as coming in second, only three votes behind. Fact of the matter you would not have been able to get several hundred collectors to vote on such an “honor” back in those days. Nevertheless, I accepted the award and trophy.
Also, at that time, I was more of a baseball card “accumulator” instead of a collector. I would take cards in lieu of cash for a subscription and I was inundated with them – most worth 1 to 3 cents each. I know, conservatively, I had 30-40 of the Pete Rose rookie cards go through my hands. Fifteen years later they were selling for $500 each! During the time The Sports Trader was published there was NO emphasis on “rookie cards” and “super star cards.” This started up a few years later.
Another reference to The Sports Trader was made when it listed yours truly as “one of the most interesting people” in baseball card collecting. I noticed that all of the others in the list were well thought of, so I suppose that I rode in on their coattails. I have wracked my brain trying to figure out if current MSNBC anchor, Keith Olbermann, ever wrote an article for The Sports Trader. I know that he was a frequent advertiser and he always had a lot of money to spend. I didn’t realize, at the time that he was so young. He later wrote for the other journals but I don’t recall that he wrote for “ST”.