SSTN Interviews Brian Cataquet (Hobby Collector & Radio Personality)
SSTN: We are here with Brian “The Cat Man” Cataquet, host of the Card King Sports and Variety Show on KMET Radio, Southern California.
Brian, I have been a big fan of your show for quite some time, and of course, I appreciate that you have had me on as a guest and as a guest host. I am glad we could make the time to have you sit down for this interview for our readers here at Start Spreading The News.
The pleasure is mine, Paul.
1) Brian, you are one of the nation’s biggest sports card dealers. Please tell us how you got into card collecting.
As a point of reference I was born in ’73. When I look back at when I was 7 years of age, baseball cards were around me. It appears that this is what I was destined to do and to be innately associated with throughout my life. Growing up in Brooklyn NY late 1970’s-80’s, we Brooklyn boys would play stick ball behind our apartment buildings, we played little league baseball, and collected baseball cards of that era-early 1980’s. During the late 1970’s as a 7 year old I would see my uncles who were older than I (teenagers at that time) collect/trade cards and I would see them organizing their cards by teams and storing them neatly in a shoe box. My oldest Uncle actually saved his childhood baseball cards from the 1950’s-60’s and every time we would get together at a family gathering at his home during the early 1980’s, I would always bother him asking to see his childhood baseball cards which he would pull out of his closet and show me. It so happened around 20 years ago he ended up surprising me by giving me his childhood collection because he knew that I was involved in the hobby. The most important moment in my card life which paved the way for me and one that I will treasure always happened on a Saturday morning in 1983-84. I was 10 years old and slept at my buddy’s apartment. My stick ball & collecting buddy at the time Matt said to me that his mom would drive us in the morning to a “Baseball & Hobby Shop” to buy cards. I didn’t know what that meant or even knew that there was such thing as a baseball card shop that was opened for business. We drove to this hobby shop located on Flatbush Ave. It was a hole in the wall mom & pop shop. When I walked into that shop, I recall smelling the old cardboard smell of cards as soon as I walked in. I was looking at for the very first time vintage memorabilia-sport magazines, old baseball programs, yearbooks, vintage posters hanging all over the walls of this small shop. There were wooden handmade showcases on the “floor” of the shop with vintage colorful baseball cards from the 1950’s & 60’s of all the baseball stars I heard of. The vintage cards were so colorful looking at them in those showcases I remember as a 10 year old and seeing prices on those cards for example, a 1964 Clemente card for $10 which was lot of money for one card back in ’84 for a 10 year old. But as I like to say, that Sat. morning in ’83- I saw for the very first time that there was a life in selling baseball cards/memorabilia. I left that shop and fell in love with what I experienced. From that moment I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up- As they say, the rest is history.
2) You have since branched out and now have a weekly radio program. How did you accomplish this?
I consider myself to be a performer at heart. It’s just a feeling I have in me. I like to say that If I am not out there “making noise” in a business sense, I feel that I will become irrelevant in my field of sports/entertainment which has definitely turned out to be that these days, even in baseball cards. So many well known celebrities are collectors. There is news everyday or every several days now on baseball cards and collectibles. So sports cards without question has really become newsworthy. My first initial goal as a youngster was to become “well known” in an industry. Baseball cards has made that happen for me. I never gave it up. While my friends in school were partying or dating, making a name for myself was always first on my list. Whether it was becoming that all city high school ball player which I did get some notoriety by the NYC newspapers, to that card collector/dealer which I did become, receiving notoriety in the late 1980’s early 1990’s by discovering unknown baseball cards which I would find/purchase at card shows then photocopy my finds and send them to our trade paper which was called Sports Collectors Digest and they would credit my card finds with a publicity write up in the trade paper or whether it was being a musician which I did perform on stage as a drummer for a 1 year period during my late 20’s with some of the pioneer artists in Latin music who took me under their wing and gave me that shot or whether it was my card king commercials which I created 14 years ago as a brand for my business and airing my commercials on YES/SNY TV Networks, making a name for myself in my industry was priority. And most recently with my radio show called the “Card King Sports & Variety” In which I wanted to create something different than what others are doing on the radio with sports. There are thousands upon thousands of sports shows/hosts around the country doing the same thing, talking about the same daily recap, analyzing weekly games in their cities. I wanted to air something different. So I created my own radio show which primarily focuses on my two passions in life: Collectibles and Music Artists Interviews (from the’50’s-80’s). I have to admit that I purposely perform my 27 minute show unscripted because it gives me an energetic challenge in doing it that way.
3) It seems that the memorabilia industry fluctuates greatly over time. How do you protect yourself with smart investments?
Vintage always sells and remains strong in value. You can never go wrong with anything vintage (19th century-1979 I consider vintage) simply because of it’s scarcity. I have mentioned it on my show as well, Grading Services can keep you protected as far as authenticity is concerned. So as a protection for yourself the consumer when purchasing collectibles, cards, memorabilia, I would look to using a reputable grading service for “authenticity” purposes to protect yourself from purchasing the “fake” item.
4) On your radio show, you have talked to a host of famous baseball players, writers, and some legends of the music business. All of these people seem to hold you in the highest of regard. How do you make and maintain these professional connections?
I have been told that I am a humble person. I really enjoy listening to people. To be honest, I am an introvert off the air and for me listening more than talking is part of my personality off the air. So being humble is key and being able to listen well has helped me maintain relationships and trust among these legends who I am able to book on my program. I also believe that being reputable in my industry for 36 years now and having a name can’t hurt (again my initial goal as I mentioned above) in getting these professionals to come on the show.
5) As a buyer and seller of rare collectibles, there must be times when you come into possession of some pretty rare and original items. Are you ever reluctant to sell these and instead keep them for your own collection?
You know years ago I had a very nice collection of rare cards. When I got married, moved out of NYC and had my first child I ended up selling most of my personal collection. In my younger years, I would to be reluctant to sell some of the items I fell in love with. I know longer feel that way because my feeling is this. When sellers remorse kicks in, in today’s world with many weekly internet sports card/memorabilia auctions that are instantly available 24/7 (example eBay), one can always purchase that item which one has sold. You may have to wait a while for that very RARE item to re appear for sale or pay a higher price for it, But that item which you were reluctant to sell, I am confident enough in today’s world it will re appear again. Also part of the thrill of this business is the hunt for the cards and the economic profit “high” one feels after selling what one has obtained. It becomes a fun addiction.
6) What has been the single item that you have owned (or still own) that you most enjoyed having?
In the baseball card world there are three cards that I consider the “BIG 3”. 1) 1910 Honus Wagner card which has sold for $3 million+; 2)1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Rookie which sold for nearly $3 million (First major issue by the Topps Co.); 3)1933 Goudey Gum Card #106 of Nap Lajoie (considered first gum card issue). I had the privilege of owning a Goudey Lajoie card which I sold. The story on the Lajoie card is an interesting one. In 1933 the Goudey Co. issued a complete set of 239 cards but forgot to print the card #106. So collectors back in 1933 would write to the Goudey Co. complaining they were not able to complete their sets because card #106 was missing. So it so happened that Goudey printed the Lajoie card #106 the following year in 1934 and mailed the card to collectors requesting for one. A little more than 100 copies are known in the world.
7) If someone was just getting into the hobby of baseball cards and was looking to invest wisely, where should that person start?
The first thing one should do is collect first what they enjoy. Without the enjoyment, there won’t be a passionate hobby. So collect the cards that appeal to you first. If it’s cards of your favorite player that were issued in different years, collect that. If it’s your favorite all time position players and you would like to own every card issued yearly of that player do that. You first need to collect what appeals to your “taste buds” of collecting. For investment purposes, purchase the history of the sport -cards-. That is PRE-1950 sports cards. Lower condition cards from Pre-1950 are still affordable and their prices remain firm and stand the test of time because of age/scarcity/limited production.
8) What is your favorite baseball card set/design?
I love all cards from PRE-1950. If I had to pick my favorite design it would have to be the 1938 Goudey Heads-Up Series. These cards are so cool looking. The 1938 Goudey Heads Up has an actual photograph of the players face placed on a cartoon drawing of his body along with a comic bio of the player surrounding his body. Pretty neat innovation from Goudey I must say.
9) In the book and the movie The Natural, the main character wants nothing more than to walk down the street and have people say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.” Who was the best baseball player you ever saw?
In the late 1980’s I got a chance to play with and against Manny Ramirez during my high school years. Manny is around my age and when I played against him he came out of Washington Heights in Manhattan. He played for Youth Service League in Brooklyn, NY. Manny was the best player I ever witnessed on the field, in person. I can tell you that we would play weekend double headers in Brooklyn’s Coney Island the Parade Grounds. Manny would go something like 8 for 8 with 4 to 5 homers in a double header. He would hit the ball so hard that the infielders would be afraid to get in front of the ball. His hitting was breathtaking to watch at that young age.
8) Our final question is really just a collection of short answers…
What was your favorite baseball team growing up? The New York Mets
Who was your favorite player? Keith Hernandez
Who is your favorite musical group or artist? The Drifters
What is your favorite food (if it is pizza, what is your favorite pizza restaurant)? Pizza – Spumoni Gardens Brooklyn, NY
Please share anything else you’d like with our audience – Please remember to tune in to hear *** The Card King Sports & Variety show which can be heard on KMET Radio at 11 am (EST) on Saturday’s.
Thank you Brian. We will be sure to tune in and enjoy your program. It was a pleasure having you with us!