Interview with Andre Chiavelli
Vintage Memorabilia Vendor in Yankee Stadium and Creator of Long Ball Licorice
By: Shane Salmonson
How is this for living the dream…selling cards and memorabilia in Yankee Stadium, hanging out with the players, chatting up the legends of the game? Sound pretty good? Andre Chiavelli has done all of that. Andre recently launched a new licorice company, Long Ball Licorice, licensed by the family of Babe Ruth! I had the chance to ask Andre about his work at Yankee Stadium and his new company, and the stories didn’t disappoint!
AC: I started collecting cards of my era in the early 70s like most kids, but I loved the vintage tobacco cards I found in flea markets. I bought them up for 25 cents each. I was able to sell them in high school and get a car!
AC: Yes I am still a collector today more of rare memorabilia items.
AC: My favorite pieces: Joe DiMaggio tuxedo from when he was with Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth’s insurance policy, Thurman Munson’s 1976 Cue Magazine Award, a golden apple. 1951 Joe DiMaggio’s last game played World Series signed program. Abraham Lincoln inauguration paper.
AC: I got into Yankee Stadium in 2009, my story is Yankee history! I went to the new stadium with my wife and said they don’t have vintage memorabilia here and I am going to be in the stadium selling it in two weeks. She said I was crazy. I called 50 times to get to my today good buddy Mike Loparo, now VP of legends. We had a meeting and they asked me questions about memorabilia and I answered them easily but then they showed me a Ruth card that was a gift from a friend after giving him 5 World Series tickets and said the card was very valuable. I took the card and threw it across the table and said it was a fake! Not worth 5 cents. They flipped out, I said go check it out and give me a call. Two days later they called me back, said I was right, and then offered me any spot in the stadium. I, of course, chose to be next to the museum. At the end of the season they gave me and my brother employee World Series rings and the rest is history!!
AC: Favorite people I met, all the royalty; DiMaggio family, the Maris and Mantle kids, Linda Ruth who I am involved with the Ruth family with the licorice, and I am working on a project with the Mantle family. I met so many families but as far as players I saw Jeter daily for 7 years. He never spoke but was amazing to watch him practice. He was the best at practice makes perfect, he would hit line drive ropes every day in practice every pitch. I was on the field a few times after games with Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Joe Girardi. Had catches with them also. Favorite story was from the day Jeter went for 3k hits. I went down to see him before the game, he was all excited and actually said hello! But the cool thing was that Reggie came out in uniform and walked up to Jeter as he was throwing, no one around but us three. Reggie said you’re going to break the record today and hit a home run! And of course he went 5-5 with a home run for the record breaker!!
AC: Long Ball came from being next to players on the field one day before a game, and the ban on all tobacco was coming and they wanted a replacement. So it was there a light bulb went off and I thought licorice would be perfect!
BASEBALL 22 x 28″ outside frame dimension. Cards are not included.
BU: What makes your product different from others on the market, besides the Babe Ruth licensing?
AC: What makes my product different it was custom made in Australia by the top licorice company. Australia is the capital of licorice, the quality is so much better than America. The product was designed to last longer, it’s soft and melts slowly in the mouth. It’s the best you’ve ever had!
AC: Ben Zobrist on the Cubs loved it. Rey Navarro on the Angels, Chris O’Grady on the Marlins, Tim Dillard on the Brewers, just to name a few.
BU: Anything else you’d like to share?
AC: The product comes in a 3.5 oz pouch and costs 5.95. It also comes in a box of 8 pouches for $44 with free shipping. You can buy it at www.longballlicorice.com, and also on Amazon and eBay.
Acrylic GLOBE with Gold Pedestal Acrylic globe fits 1 baseball perfectly. Base dimensions: 3-1/2″ diameter x 3/4″ tall. Comes in shrink-wrapped full-color carton.