A few days ago, much to my suprise, I received an e-mail from The Card co-author Michael O'Keeffe. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about his book, and below is the transcript of our exchange.
Chris Harris: First off, I really enjoyed The Card. Well done. However I have a few questions I'd like to ask. Some of these questions may seem repetitive, but I ask them for the benefit of those who read my blog and not Ben Henry's.
One of the more significant revelations in your book is at the very end. You state on page 204 that before Brian Siegel sold The Card he had had it "reholdered." Could you go into a little more deatil about this? Specifically, which company graded it, and what is The Card's new grade?
Michael O'Keeffe: The card was not regraded -- simply put in another holder. Sorry if there was confusion over this.
CH: As I mentioned in my mini-review of your book, Michael Gidwitz seems like the kind of guy you'd want to have a couple of beers with. What was it like to interview him, and how impressed were you at his collection?
MOK: Mike Gidwitz is a great guy. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to have a few beers with him, but I'm sure it would be a blast.
Mike strikes me as a guy who is very passionate and very committed to what he does, whether it's collecting cards, sheets of cards or Mad magazine-related art. He seems very loyal to his friends -- I really do believe he'd give Rob Lifson an organ if Rob needed a translplant. He's very loyal to his secretary and other people who work for him -- he strikes me as a great boss.
Mike loves to have fun and he's not afraid of what other people might say about him as he pursues his passions. He's a bigger-than-life personality. One of the best things about this book was hanging out for a day with Mike. I can't say enough nice things about him.
CH: What do you think Honus Wagner's ultimate legacy will be: The greatest shortstop of the pre-War era, or the guy whose picture is on a $2 million baseball card?
MOK: Unfortunately, I think more people know about Honus because of his card instead of his accomplishments. As we wrote in the book, that's a shame because he was such a talented, rounded athlete. He might be the best player in baseball history. His only statistical deficiency is home runs, but remember, he played in the dead ball era, and he played at a time when managers stressed moving the runners, not the long ball. He is still widely regarded as the best shortstop ever. He played every position but catcher -- he even pitched and served as player/manager a few times. Unfortunately for Honus, he played before radio, TV and film -- and unlike Ty Cobb, he was an easy-going guy who didn't generate a lot of controversy.