The Rolls-Royce of press pins
HOF 'Retroactives' limited to 500 again

By Dave Moriah

Stan Musialand Roy Campanella are the marquis names on this year's retroactive  press pins issued for the fifth consecutive year by Chemical Bank and the  Baseball Hall of Fame.

Distributed at the 1995 induction ceremonies in Cooperstown during the weekend  of July 29-Aug. 1, the two-pin set travels back in time to honor the inductees  from 1944 (Kenesaw Mountain Landis) and 1969 (Musial, Campanella, Stanley  Coveleski and Waite Hoyt.)

The pins are gradually filling in the years between the first HOF induction  ceremony (1936) and the year when HOF press pins were first issued (1982).  Collector excitement over the attractive pins, similar in style and quality  to other contemporary press pins, is fueled by two factors.

First, the run of 500 is much lower than any other press pin in baseball.  The actual number reaching the collector marketplace is smaller still, as  approximately half the run ends up in the hands of each Hall of Famer and  his immediate guests at the induction ceremonies.

The pins have proved quite popular with the Hall of Famers themselves, and  some players even request specific numbers for their issue.

The other reason for their popularity is the quality of the players honored.  The first issue in 1990 featured the legendary "Class of 1936" - Ruth, Cobb,  Wagner, Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson. Wow!

In 1992, the sponsors came up with a new twist. In the spirit of the old  fashioned "double header," they decided to issue a two-pin set. One pin continues  the march from 1936 up, honoring the next year's induction class. The other  pin features a "wild card" year of more recent vintage. This allowed for  pins honoring living legends like Joe DiMaggio (1992), Ted Williams (1994),  and this year Stan "The Man" Musial.

"We choose a year which allows us to honor someone who is still with us who  has been a friend to the Hall of Fame," explained Chemical Bank sponsor Charlie  McCabe. "Stan Musial is a regular attendee at the events in Cooperstown,  and we all love to hear him play the harmonic."

McCabe also reports that IBM is no longer a co-sponsor with Chemical Bank  of the weekend of the pin issue. Pin collectors should be aware of a resulting  quirk. As the pins were manufactured before IBM dropped out, the pin back  features both the IBM and Chemical Bank names. However, the jewelry boxes  which go with the pin set only contain the name of Chemical Bank.

Collectors are quite particular about pins being displayed in these original  boxes, which feature not only the Chemical Bank name but also the date of  the HOF induction weekend.

Dan Lovegrove, owner of Recollectics, a company that specializes in buying  and selling press pins, reports that most collectors he talks with wouldn't  be interested in a pin unless it's in its original display box.

"There's also not much interest in buying one pin out of the two-pin set,"  Lovegrove reports, no matter who is featured on the available one. "It's  even hard to move the DiMaggio pin unless it's sold in the pair."

Lovegrove, who admits to holding a large quantity of regular HOF press pins,  is a believer in the longterm value of the retroactives.

"It's fair to say I only come upon a half dozen or so retroactives each year.  They are just not available through press sources," he explains. "As the  years go on people will appreciate just how special, and rare, these pins  are."

Lovegrove reports that the press pin market has been soft in the past two  years, but when he does find a buyer for the retroactives the price remains  high.

"Anyone interested in the retroactives is willing to pay about $750 for a  two-pin set," Lovegrove reports. "People who are looking for don't argue  about the price."

McCabe offers a sneak preview of next year's retroactives, a set which is  sure to generate even more interest and enthusiasm among top shelf collectors.

"In 1996 we will feature the Class of 1974," reports McCabe.

"That, of course, means Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford."

Sports Collectors Digest - August 11, 1995.

Reprinted with permission from Krause Publications, Inc. (c) 1995 Krause  Publications, Inc.