Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Longoria cards are hot at Largo memorabilia shop

Wednesday was pretty typical for Orve Johansson, owner of the Baseball Card Co. in Largo.

There was the statue of Babe Ruth, the bats signed by Ted Williams and Mike Schmidt and the Josh Hamilton rookie card all in their usual place. Customers came in, drank the coffee and talked sports as they glanced at ESPN on TV.

But something else was in the air.

"It's Longoria. Longoria is hot,'' Johansson said.

It would be 32 hours before fans would hear who won the final spot on the American League All-Star Team, and the buzz inside the 26-year-old shop was from more than Orve's coffeepot. Evan Longoria was leading in votes.

"We don't have any Longoria cards in here right now,'' Johansson told someone on the telephone. "When Topps put out their last sets, Series I and II, they did not include Longoria. They didn't know he'd be this young phenom.''

It is precisely how unpredictable the game is that makes his work fun, Johansson said. "I fell in love with baseball cards in 1954. It was when I opened my Ernie Banks rookie card.''

In 1982, after suffering through 36 Chicago winters, Johansson, a former Internal Revenue Service employee, and his wife, Maria, moved to Florida. "I started this business with my own collection of 1,000 cards,'' he recalled.

"My wife and I made a budget. We calculated that we had to make $21 a day in order to succeed. To us, a $5 sale was huge, but it's worked.''

Orve credits a higher force and people's generosity for his success. There are little things like how he became a stats expert while riding on L trains to Wrigley Field. "I played baseball at Bogan High School, and the Cubs gave us all a free season pass. I studied numbers while taking the two buses and three L trains into Wrigley.''

There are the bigger, life-changing things, like the customers who wanted to give him their personal collections in 1999 after his store was robbed of $200,000 worth of sports memorabilia. "I remember a young boy, who had bought cards from me, came in with his collection and said, 'Orve, if you have to start over, I can start over,' It was life-changing.'' Luckily, the thieves were caught and his merchandise recovered.

As to what advice he would give a novice collector, he offered this: "Your dealing with human beings who are fickle. So, buy cards that you are more interested in keeping. A player who is hot today might get injured, and you'll be stuck with the card forever. You better like that player to begin with.''

At 5 p.m., Longoria was maintaining a slim lead over Jermaine Dye of the White Sox. The first Longoria card was brought into the store by Irv Pike, a regular customer. "It's a 2006, and I felt like it was the one to sell right now,'' Pike said.

And sell it did. Another customer, who refused to give his name because he didn't want his boss to know he was not at work, bought it immediately.

Piper Castillo can be reached at pcastillo@sptimes.com or at (727)445-4163.

The Baseball Card Co.

1901 West Bay Drive, Largo

Longoria cards are hot at Largo memorabilia shop 07/12/08 [Last modified: Sunday, July 13, 2008 7:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party

    Cooking

    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  2. Our president, our protests

    Blogs

    Our president has done more to foster national anthem protests than the protestors.

  3. Trump: Objection to NFL protests 'has nothing to do with race'

    National

    MORRISTOWN, New Jersey — President Donald Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but …

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters upon his return to the White House in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. Trump insisted Sunday that his opposition to NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality "has nothing to do with race" but has to do with "respect for our country and respect for our flag." [Associated PRss]
  4. World War II vet, 97, takes a knee in support of anthem protests

    Human Interest

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — On a day when NFL teams grabbed the nation's attention by coordinating demonstrations during the national anthem, a 97-year-old World War II veteran went viral with a solitary show of support for the protests.

    Brennan Gilmore posted a Twitter picture Sunday morning of his grandfather, John Middlemas, kneeling while wearing a veteran's cap. [Twitter]
  5. Florida education news: Shelter duty, charter schools, teacher pay and more

    Blogs

    ON THE JOB TRAINING: Michael Vasallo learns how to run an evacuation shelter on his 21st day as principal of Dunedin Highland Middle School.

    First year principal Michael Vasallo, right, got called into hurricane shelter duty one month into his job.