Someone asked me the other day what I liked best about our Vintage Sports Images gallery and retail space – and without a doubt, it is that when people come in to check out our thousands of rare and never-before-seen NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA images, they inevitably talk about stories from the past. This happens with young and old alike. When it comes to sports history, age doesn’t matter. It is incredible and it's exactly what I hoped for when I opened the space.
One guy came in and saw the Ted Williams signed jersey and bat we have on display and told me about how his dad hung out with Williams, “The Splendid Splinter” – Major League Baseball’s last .400 hitter. He showed me a picture of himself as a young kid fishing with the legend. It turns out, his dad and Williams were good buddies and went out and cast a few back in the day.
Another fellow came in and was looking at a Gerry Cheevers print. He started talking about the 70's goalies and goalie masks and said that he still plays today, in old-school goalie gear. How awesome is that? It turns out, he’s a part of a whole group of people who love that era and keep it alive in so many different ways. Our chat reminded me about my first year of Tom Thumb hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, ON (home of NHL heroes Tony and Phil Esposito) and being handed a Flyers jersey (number 2 Ed Van Impe). In my heart, I am still a Flyers fan.
Another great experience was with a woman who came in the other day looking for a Leafs print – a gift for her 80-year-old father-in-law. We started talking about how she used to trade the old Esso Power Players cards at school so she could fill the book – you got them at the gas station. Canadian icon comedian Mike Myers also mentions doing this in Canada, his new book, which I got for Christmas. This was a passion of mine in school. Maybe it was for you too. She and I had a great conversation about which players were hard to get, which you always had doubles or triples of, and which ones were favorites. It was such a blast from the past.
Check out the old ad for the Esso Power Players here
The point is that these images conjure up the lost art of conversation. Anything to get people to put down their smartphones and just talk to each other – and have a real conversation that they are both passionate about – is one of the things I live for!
I look forward to having many more of these conversations – hopefully with the next person who walks in the door.