BY DON FLUCKINGER • Richard and I watched the Sox win it all this year, just as we watched Aaron Boone sap the air out of New England’s baseball postseason last year. On my couch.
For the record, Richard kept score with a sweet little Canadian single-jewel red Vacumatic he’s been toting lately, a little prize he acquired from a Dutch collector friend that, at the moment, I think he might admire a tiny bit more than his grandson. Just a suspicion.
Anyway, fresh from the annual eBay Collectibles Summit, in which they invite writers and editors to San Jose to download fresh information on what’s hot and what’s not, I have thought all month about how limited editions are selling. The sports realm is one area where they’re hot.
|Laugh all you want — but there’s money to be made in these pieces, don’t doubt it.
Then, lo and behold, the earth moves, the moon goes into eclipse, and the Sox break the so-called Curse of the Bambino, perpetuated by the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy in the book of the same name. (Rumor has it that, now his meal ticket has been punched for good once the Sox won, he’s picking up the family and moving to Chicago.)
And here we are. If the Krones of the world, along with the Pelikans, Montblancs, Montegrappas, and everyone else making limited-edition pens would like to pull up a chair and read the rest of this, I’ve got 10 pens they could bring to market in order to cash in on the Red Sox fever gripping New England — and, since so many Boston expatriates live everywhere throughout the country — all over the United States.
The Cy. While Yankees teams might have had Cy Young Award winners on their championship teams, the Sox had Cy Young himself. This pitcher not only had the trophy that gauges pitching excellence named after him, he started 3 games in the first World Series in 1903. The pen would be a plain, hard-rubber safety pen with no-nonsense lines and nickel trim. Limited to 511, one for each of his wins, still the majors’ record.
Trot’s Hammer. A messy club of earthen mottled resin, this rough-hewn — but steady-writing — piece would symbolize the 2004 team’s original “dirt dog.” Trot Nixon’s stats will never get him into the hall of fame, but Sox fans will never forget his timely doubles, diving outfield catches, and perpetually soiled uniform. Capped with a batting helmet-shaped derby with the “B” barely legible through a mass of genuine imitation pine tar. Limited to 27700, the zip code of his hometown, Durham, N.C.
Pesky’s pole. Named after the foul pole with the screen attached that was erected to help show the umpires that the famously light-hitting 1940s infielder’s close foul balls actually were home runs, this pen would be bright yellow, the same color Pesky’s pole is painted. Limited to 620, the total number of hits he clubbed in 1942, ’46, and ’47, the three years in which he led the American League in that category.
The Splinter. Ted Williams never won a championship, and his relationships with the fans and media were tenuous for much of his time in Boston. But no one denies that he was the greatest hitter who ever played — and that was his dream, to be known as just that. His commemorative limited-edition fountain pen would be a large model of ivory and blue, like the uniform he wore, with his number 9 in the cap jewel. Limited to 406, his batting average in 1953, which no player has topped since.
Big Papi. Named after popular slugger David Ortiz, this pen would be oversized, bold, and feature a gold overlay becoming his bombastic style. Definitely a piston filler, limited to 139, the number of RBIs he drove in during the 2004 season.
The Wand. Imagine Red Sox Nation being able to throw some bad karma on their New York counterparts and reverse the current of that river of talent flowing south. Consider all the players who defected to the Pinstripes, from Ruth to Sparky Lyle to El Tiante to Boggs to Clemens and, perhaps next year, Pedro. This sleek solid silver pen, polished to a bright finish, would invoke more magic than Fenway season ticket holder Stephen King could dream up in 10 novels. Limited to 1,918.
Theo and the Trio. A four-pen set for the three co-owners of the Red Sox and whiz-kid general manager Theo Epstein, this pen would be easy to use, write smooth and reliably, and would hold much ink in its reservoir. Heck, just throw some well-restored “51”s in the box. All we need is something we can count on to write with when it comes time to re-sign the free agents while they’re still feeling good about winning the World Series. Limited to one set, because only their signatures count on the player contracts anyway.
The Captain. No Red Sox pantheon is complete without an homage to Carl Yastrzemski. The oversized, understated design with blue and red marble resin reflects a hall-of-fame player who went quietly about his business for 22 seasons during a time of political, social, and on-the-field upheaval. Limited to 11,988, his team-record number of at-bats, third all-time in the majors.
Schill Special. After requesting the trade that send him from Arizona to Boston, Curt Schilling paid a legendary physical price for his promise to “break an 86-year-old curse,” which he spoke of in preseason press conferences and repeated in a Ford commercial that aired to the bitter end. The limited-edition pen made in his honor would contain a cross-shaped clip, a nod to the pendant he wore and with which he very publicly prayed before every start. The cap jewel would definitely have to contain an embedded swatch from one of his bloody socks.
The Foulke. What better to close with than the tough-as-nails pitcher who slammed the door shut to the Series, as well as many other key games in the 2004 season? The Keith Foulke fountain pen would be small, light on its feet yet well-built, and deceptively quick writing. Limited to 64, in honor of his 0.64 ERA over 14 postseason innings in 2004.
Laugh all you want — but there’s money to be made in these pieces, don’t doubt it. Sox fans are passionate — now more than ever — and they historically have piles of money they’re willing to spend. The question to our hobby’s elite pen-makers is this: Are you going to make it, or are you going to let your competition get there first?
Further Reading: Impossible Dreams, edited by Glenn Stout
Those who revel in the storied history of the Red Sox franchise could do no better than to read this volume, a collection of famous Sox essays from way back, wa-a-a-ay back, up to Ted Williams and the famous Updike piece “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” and beyond, to the days of Fisk, Lynn, Evans, and Rice. Edited by Glenn Stout, who also did Red Sox Century and Yankees Century.
|Freelance writer Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the Biddersedge.com collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site.