PHOTO: JAMES COMBS
Villager Stu Sachs has a treasure trove of baseball memorabilia.
When it comes to preserving baseball tradition, Villager Stu Sachs is batting a thousand.
He has a collection of more than 500 baseballs signed by the greats, among them Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. He even has a ball that was autographed by the entire 1955 World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers team.
His home offers a small slice of Cooperstown.
For Stu, the collection evokes wonderful memories from his years as a child and young adult. A native of Brooklyn, he fondly recalls huddling around the TV with his family and watching the Dodgers. As a father, he took his two daughters to Shea Stadium and proudly cheered on the Mets.
“I acquired many of my autographed baseballs by attending games or attending signing shows,” says Stu, who these days takes his grandson to Tampa Bay Rays games. “Some of the autographs were signed by Hall of Fame players and others were signed by lesser-known players. But each one means something to me because I love the sport. I can talk about baseball for hours.”
Serving as president of The Villages Sports Card and Collectible Club allows him to do just that. Fifty like-minded sports enthusiasts form the club, which meets the second Monday of each month at 7p.m. inside the Hibiscus Recreation Center. Like Stu, fellow members also have extensive collections of autographed plaques, pictures, posters and cards of past and current athletes from all sports.
“Everyone has their own sports-related collection,” Stu says. “For instance, one guy collects autographs from Hall of Fame athletes only. The great thing about our club is being able to talk sports and reminisce about memorable players and memorable games.”
In addition to regular meetings, club members three times a year organize a show and sale. During those events, patrons can purchase sports cards, autographed photos and other sports-related memorabilia from exhibitors. In addition, employees of an authentication company are on hand to determine whether an athlete actually signed that item.
“Some players had a clubhouse attendant provide all their autographs,” Stu says. “Therefore, if a player did not sign something, (the authenticators) can tell you the name of the person who likely signed it. People are happy to know if an autographed item they’ve had for years was actually signed by the player or someone else.”
The next show and sale is Sept. 13 at Laurel Manor Recreation Center from 9a.m. to 2p.m. In addition to sports-related items, attendees can also purchase comic books and vinyl records. For more information about the club or upcoming event, contact Stu Sachs at 352.751.7899.