Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Auction to benefit owner of Baseball Card Shop in Largo

Orve Johansson and his wife, Maria, opened the Baseball Card Shop on West Bay Drive in 1982. He recently had both kidneys removed.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times (2008)

Orve Johansson and his wife, Maria, opened the Baseball Card Shop on West Bay Drive in 1982. He recently had both kidneys removed.

Longtime patrons of the Baseball Card Shop on West Bay Drive have rallied to help Orve Johansson , the owner of the 27-year-old sports memorabilia shop.

Johansson, 63, had both kidneys removed in March and to help offset medical expenses, fellow collectors have stepped up to the plate by creating an online fundraiser.

Through 9 p.m. May 28, sports fans can place bids on such items as a baseball signed by the 1934 Yankees featuring Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, a group photograph signed by Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford and Billy Martin and a Ted Williams signed post card.

“The collecting community is doing this for Orve because he always puts everyone else first,” said Brad Wells, chief executive officer of Historic Auctions, who has worked with Johansson for about five years during different consignment projects.

“He treats everyone surrounding him like family,” Wells said.

For Johansson, the attention since he became ill is something he never expected.

“I don’t like being in the limelight, but I appreciate everything,” he said by phone from Bay Pines VA Medical Center before a dialysis appointment. Although he is now recuperating at home in Largo, Johansson goes to the hospital several times a week for dialysis.

A former Internal Revenue Service employee, Johansson and his wife, Maria, opened the Baseball Card Shop after they moved from Chicago in 1982. They started the business with Johansson’s own collection of 1,000 cards. In the beginning, they followed a budget in which they had to earn $21 a day to succeed.

While he is sick, several friends have helped his wife keep open the business, which has grown to include a large number of baseball cards kept in the adjoining store.

“Frankly, I’m not well-versed on the players anymore, and I just want to say how thankful I am to have such good friends we’ve met through the years to help out now,” said Maria Johansson, 58. “I think the reason we’ve been able to keep the business open this long has to do with Orve’s personality.

“So many people come in just because they want to talk with him, and unfortunately, he’s not there right now.” But her husband is eager to be back at work soon.

“All I want to do is be in the store,” he said. “I miss my daily work, and what I’d really like to be talking about are the Rays. They seem to be one key hit per game short. Last year, they seemed to always have that key hit and this year, they don’t.”

Piper Castillo may be reached at

Fast facts

About the auction

To view the items or register for online bidding for the fundraiser, visit Bidding will continue until 9 p.m. May 28. If you have any questions on bidding or would like to contribute memorabilia or funds to Orve Johansson, please contact Historic Auctions at (727) 456-7171.

About the shop

The Baseball Card Shop, 1901 W Bay Drive, Largo, is open noon to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. For information, call (727) 581-2974.

Auction to benefit owner of Baseball Card Shop in Largo 05/19/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 2:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.