Interview with Rich Mueller of Sports Collectors Daily

By: Shane Salmonson

Interview with Rich Mueller
By: Shane Salmonson

Are you looking for a site to find all of your hobby news in one place? Vintage cards, modern cards, memorabilia, hobby crime, all of that can be found at Sports Collectors Daily. The man behind Sports Collectors Daily is Rich Mueller. Rich was kind enough to answer some questions for me via e-mail about the current hobby, his collecting habits, and what you can find on his site.

BU: What is your background story? How did you end up at Sports Collectors Daily?

RM: I grew up in Wisconsin and then embarked on a 30-year career in broadcasting. I did play-by- play for a long defunct CBA team, then worked as a sports anchor/reporter for several TV stations, mostly in the Midwest and on the west coast. I started collecting as a kid and with the exception of a couple of years, I’ve been involved in the hobby ever since. I met my wife Lisa while working in Champaign, IL and we’ve been married 29 years. She and I have been “dog parents” for all of that time and have been actively involved in rescue. In 2006, I started Sports Collectors Daily while working here in Indiana and it later evolved into my full-time job.

BU: How were you first introduced to the hobby?

RM: I opened my first packs of cards in 1967 (Philadelphia Football) but I don’t remember it. I’m reminded every time I look at those cards and see my big red magic marker scribblings on them. I do have some memories of opening my first baseball card packs in 1969 and was a very avid young collector on a limited budget for the next several years.

BU: Are you currently a collector? What do you collect?

RM: I do still collect and primarily focus on vintage sports cards. I was lucky enough to put together a run of old sets when I was younger and am always working on upgrading them. I also have a bunch of vintage display boxes from the 1960s and 70s, a set of the original Hartland statues, a good sized collection of publications including most of the Super Bowl programs, some old World Series programs and a complete run of Green Bay Packers yearbooks from 1960-present. I don’t buy a lot anymore—mostly for lack of space, which isn’t really a bad type of caution as you get older.

BU: Any favorite pieces you’d like to share?

RM: I have an unopened box of 1961 JELL-O with a Harmon Killebrew card on the back. About 15 years ago I did a live interview with him and had him sign it. He got a big kick out of it and fake threatened to open the box. I also have a framed piece I put together that has an original newspaper story that talks about “Johnny” Wooden when he was a star at Purdue, along with a photo from his college playing days and an autograph and a framed collection of 1933-34 Goudey Premiums with Babe Ruth that my father acquired for me from an old school friend of his many years ago. My dad passed away in 2000 but he was very helpful in building my collection and we shared a lot of time on it when I was in high school and college.

BU: How have your collecting habits changed over the years?

RM: I used to try to collect every new set that came out but by the mid-1990s that was becoming impossible so I stopped. You only have so much room!

BU: How would you describe the current hobby landscape?

RM: Of course there have been changes, especially with regard to the content of new products and the focus on autographs and memorabilia cards but I don’t know that the hobby is totally different than it was 25 years ago. People still collect sets, players, Hall of Famers and certain teams. I think there are fewer people collecting both newer and older material today than there used to be. It seems you’re either a vintage collector or you rip current boxes.

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BU: Speaking of current boxes, what is your opinion of exclusive licenses?

RM: I understand the leagues’ reasons for doing it but I don’t think it serves the collector very well. I think competition is always a good thing. It gives collectors options and keeps the companies from getting complacent.

BU: Can you tell us a little bit about Sports Collectors Daily, and why people should be checking it out?

RM: As I mentioned earlier, the website launched in 2006 and it’s been growing ever since. I just felt there was a need in the hobby/industry for a news outlet that wrote about the hobby more than just once every couple of weeks. We produce at least four fresh pieces of content every day, Monday through Friday and there are now over 12,000 stories in the archive. We write about new products, cover the major card and memorabilia auctions that take place, report on some of the phenomenal finds that happen from time to time, offer a preview of upcoming releases, write about the business side of the hobby and just about anything else you can think of. I always attend the National Sports Collectors Convention and have coverage from there as well. No matter where your interest lies, there should be something of interest to you in our pages.

BU: I love to read about vintage card discoveries. What stories seem to get the most attention from collectors?

RM: Those “incredible find” stories are definitely popular with readers.  Just when you think there can’t possibly be any more great discoveries out there, something else pops up.  The “Beer Box Find” of vintage wax boxes last year is a perfect example.  Someone had over $1 million worth of old sports cards in the attic and no one knew until someone started digging through things. There are always a few really good ones every year.  People also like to read about high level hobby crime and punishment.

BU: It seems, to me at least, that cards are making a mainstream comeback, why do you think that is?

RM: I think a lot of those late 1980s and early 1990s kids who grew up going to card shops and shows have rediscovered their old hobby in recent years. It’s changed but many have gotten back into it again as they raise families and send them off to college. The amount of information online helps them catch up. The publicity over some of those great finds also helps ignite interest and so does the national attention over sales of some of the really valuable, high-end sports cards and memorabilia.

BU: What would you say is the biggest positive about the current hobby?

RM: I always tell people who say “it’s too expensive now” that cost should NOT be a deterrent. You can’t own everything anyway, so pick out what you can afford and enjoy it. This is one of the few hobbies where you can go to a show with $10 in your pocket and still have fun buying cards out of the dime and quarter boxes. No matter what your level of disposable income, you can still collect. It’s always been true but the amount of product means that there are a lot of things that can be purchased on the secondary market for very little. There are plenty of resources online for buying, selling and trading that weren’t available 20 years ago. Anyone can be a dealer. Anyone can build a nice collection very quickly or sell items they don’t want without a lot of effort.

BU: Any negatives?

RM: There are still a lot of counterfeit items and phony autographs on the market. Be very careful and do your homework before spending a significant amount of money. I also think there are way too many sports card products being produced each year. We’re not in 1990 anymore and the trading card makers have to pay the bills and the cost of their licenses but it’s massively confusing for collectors getting back into the hobby or dads trying to buy for their kids for the first time. Even taking just 6 or 7 less popular products out of the market for baseball, basketball and football would help but it’s not likely to happen.

BU: Anything else you’d like to share?

RM: I hope everyone will visit the website at least a few times a week and use the search function to find stories they can read about what they like to collect. I hope they’ll also join us on Facebook where we have a large community of followers and also follow us on Twitter.

Rich Mueller
Twitter: @SportsCollector

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