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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Hobby puts man in touch with sports greats

Monday, February 3, 2003

Eric Wyndham holds up a baseball autographed by Mickey Mantle. The Brazil attorney talked about his hobby, collecting baseball and basketball players' autographs, at Wednesday's Rotary Club meeting at Smokin' Charlie's Come 'N Get It Diner, Knightsville.

How do you collect autographs of baseball greats Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle and Pete Rose? How would one obtain autographs of the 1976 Indiana University basketball team? Or the 1976 Cincinnati Reds team?

For one Brazil man, the answer has been to attend sports card shows with his son.

Eric Wyndham, a local attorney, says he began collecting baseball cards when he was a lad growing up in the 1950s.

"I put a rubber band around them and threw them in a box," he told fellow Rotarians on Wednesday at Knightsville. "I later found out that was the worse thing to do" with a card collection.

Years went by, Wyndham married and had a family. His son, Scott, now 24, decided sports cards were pretty neat, too; so Eric rediscovered his old hobby and began taking Scott to sports card shows.

The result is a collection of baseballs, posters and other items signed by a number of sporting legends.

Eric has a baseball -- preserved in a transparent box -- signed by Mickey Mantle.

"When I was growing up, Mickey Mantle was baseball," Wyndham said.

He was impressed with the way Mantle treated his fans, compared to the not-so-nice way other professional players acted in public.

Mantle "was so nice to the young kids," Eric said. "Mickey Mantle was really nice to everyone who came by."

Eric also has autographs by Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Pete Rose and others.

A recent addition to his collection is Sammy Sosa's autograph, obtained at a game.

"After batting practice, every game, Sammy Sosa goes up to the stands and signs autographs," Eric said.

His dream is get a baseball autographed by Mark McGuire.

"He doesn't go to sports card shows and I don't know if I will ever have the opportunity, but I would really like to get Mark McGuire's autograph."

He does have autographs of almost everyone on the 1976 Cincinnati Reds team, the team that won back-to-back World Series. It took five years to get the autographs on the poster.

Wyndham also has a small poster with the picture of the 1976 I.U. basketball team. It has been signed by then-coach Bobby Knight and the players.

But, the real value of the hobby for Wyndham isn't the autographs themselves or the value of his collection. It is what it has meant to Wyndham's relationship with his son.

"Scott and I got really close," Eric said. "The hobby helped make him a better human being. He learned the value of things. 'How badly do I want that card? Is it too much for that card?'"

Wyndham urges parents to make sure their children take care of their collectible toys -- whether they are Star Wars figures, comic books, sports cards or whatever.

When Wyndham was young, he bought toy automobiles at a Terre Haute variety store. Years later, he learned the value of that well-preserved collection.

"I had to take out a rider on my house insurance," Wyndham said.

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