By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR May 8, 2001 Barry B. Foster is a sports addict.
He started collecting baseball cards as a kid, and since then his collection has grown from a few shoeboxes of cards to several hundred thousand pieces of sports memorabilia.
After retiring from a career in education that included principalships at Pine Bush and Fallsburg High School, and classroom time at Livingston Manor, Fallsburg, Delaware Valley and Hancock, his wife Diane now in her 28th year teaching first grade at Livingston Manor decided his collection was taking over the house and encouraged him to open up a shop specializing in sports collectibles.
On April 21, Barry Foster celebrated the grand opening of Hot Corner Sports Collectibles, Inc. in his hometown.
When he was a kid growing up in Livingston Manor, Foster and his friends used to walk over to Sorkins on Saturday afternoon to buy five and ten-cent packs of baseball cards.
We bought the packs, chewed the gum and traded the cards, he recalled.
Fast forward a few years, and after Foster graduated from Manor in 1960 he went to college at Oneonta State where, I liked to play basketball more than study.
In 1962 he was drafted by the armed services, and while stationed in Panama served as a bomb disposal specialist throughout Central and South America.
When got home, Foster was in for a real surprise. While he was in the service, his mother had cleaned house, and out went the five shoeboxes full of cherished baseball cards he had collected as a youngster.
His mom tossed the cards into the trash, and out went several Mickey Mantle rookie cards that are now each worth $40,000-$60,000 in the red-hot baseball card market.
Add a handful of $800-$1,000 classic Willie Mays cards, along with lots of Duke Snyders and Joe DiMaggios, and youre talking about some serious cash in the trash.
My mother did what thousands and thousands of mothers did, said Foster rather ruefully. When I went into the service, she cleaned house!
Foster said he started collecting seriously in 1951 when he got Yankees outfielder Tommy Henrichs autograph on a slip of paper he still has it tucked away somewhere - during a trip to Yankees Stadium with his grandfather.
He started out as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan, but when his beloved team left NYC in 1957, he switched over to the NY Yankees as heroes on the field of dreams.
All I had left was the team I hated, so I begrudgingly became a Yankees fan and have been avid ever since, said Foster. But I still love the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Foster moved into a storefront in his hometown that was once used by his mother as a beauty salon, when he decided with a bit of prompting by his wife Diane to open a sports collectibles store.
Hot Corner Sports Collectibles features sports cards, modern day sports and vintage autographs, sports memorabilia, yearbooks and programs, collectible supplies and framed sports art.
The store showcases baseballs signed by Hall of Famers, signed bats, sports art, cards signed by baseball legends and autographs by the likes of Mantle, DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson and Bill Dickey, the great Yankee catcher whose #8 was retired when he left the game (#8 was also retired when Yogi Berra left the game).
Hot Corner Sports Collectibles concentrates on baseball collectibles and memorabilia, and also offers a selection of basketball and football items.
What about NASCAR collectibles for the hot asphalt crowd? Foster said he hopes to have NASCAR items in the store shortly.
Fosters favorite old-timer? The immortal Jackie Robinson. His pick of the modern day crop of baseball greats? Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees 2000 All-Star MVP.
Asked what is the rarest of the rare in the world of baseball cards, Foster said early 1900s Honus Wagner tobacco cards routinely fetch $1-$2 million from collectors.
Did his mom toss out any of these?
Hot Corner Sports Collectibles was named after third base, the last stop before home plate.
According to Barry B. Foster, author of the Sports Collectibles column in the Sullivan County Democrat, the allure of collecting sports memorabilia stems from hero worship, and The beauty of an autograph. To me, an autograph is like a thumbprint, its something very personal.
This is is an extension of what Ive loved all my life, added the collector turned entrepreneur. Im a hobbyist at heart, not a businessman.
Hot Corner Sports Collectibles, The Last Stop Before Home, is located at 2 Pearl Street at Main in Livingston Manor. For information, call 439-3700.