Is there any more hallowed ground for baseball fans than Cooperstown, NY?

Jeff Katz - Mayor of Cooperstown

Jeff Katz – Mayor of Cooperstown

After all, it’s home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and still holds the mythical title of the “Birthplace of Baseball,” accurate or not.

But Cooperstown is also the hometown of James Fenimore Cooper, the first major American novelist, making it a bucket-list favorite of the literary set, as well.

It’s little wonder, then, that when author and long-time baseball card collector Jeff Katz made his way east from Chicago, he eventually landed in Cooperstown.

Unlike many fans who make a pilgrimage to the picturesque village on Otsego Lake, though, Jeff never left. In fact, he dug in and became the Mayor!

Village of Cooperstown” by drumminhands is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Recently, Mayor Katz took some time to reflect on his decades in the hobby, and he’s been gracious enough to share those memories with us.

Sit back and enjoy the ride …

1971 Topps Baseball Wax Pack

How long have you been collecting?
Since I was around 2 or 3, but seriously since 1971.

How did you get started collecting?
Beatles cards! But also baseball cards. Relatives would buy me packs. I got serious when I saw ads for card dealers in the back of The Sporting News in 1971, the year I first subscribed.

What is the first card you can remember owning or buying?
I can’t answer that. I have no idea.1977 Topps Tom Seaver

Which sports do you collect?
Baseball, continuously. I always collected football, basketball, and hockey when I was a kid, from the late 60’s through the late 70’s.

What other memorabilia, beside s cards, do you collect?
Autographs, yearbooks, books, though more as an accumulator than a collector. I’m a big record collector, though I know that’s not memorabilia, per se.

What is the focus of your collection?
I’m a card collector, so my collection includes baseball, the other sports and non-sports. On a day to day basis, my focus is on the sets I’m currently working on.

Who are your favorite players?1961 Topps Wes Covington  
Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax (old), Francisco Lindor (new), though I haven’t made a point of getting Lindor cards outside his Topps base cards.

Which is your favorite team?
None really. I like baseball. I was a huge Met fan until they traded Seaver in 1977 and I realized I liked Seaver more than I liked the Mets. That trade liberated me from team-based rooting.

Do you have a favorite card or set?1949 Remar Bread Forest Thompson
1967 Topps is my fave set. Two of my fave cards are the 1957 and 1961 Topps Wes Covington cards. That dude had some great cards!

Do you have a collecting project or goals you’re working on now?
1949 Remar Bread, 1952 Parkhurst, 1960 Topps, and 1971 Kellogg’s.

How much time do you spend on the hobby these days?
I really got re-energized about 1 1/2 years ago. I don’t’ spend too much time on the hobby each day, maybe 30 minutes or so checking websites for sales.

What’s your main source of hobby information?
I’ll read Sports Collectors Daily online. I follow a bunch of card people on Twitter, so that leads to news.

Where do you buy most of your cards?1960 Leaf Sparky Anderson
eBay,, various other sites.

Which card or set have you always wanted to own but has always eluded you?
I would love to get the 1960 Leaf high series, but it’s too pricey.

What’s your favorite hobby memory?Split Season 1981
First big card show, at a church in Manhattan, 1973. It was pre-hobby explosion and every dealer was a hobby lover.

Do you have any other funny or memorable hobby moments to share?
I’m going to send you to this post I wrote for the SABR Baseball Cards blog:

Anything else you want other collectors to know about you or the hobby?
I’m Mayor of Cooperstown and an author of two baseball books (Split Season:1981 was my most recent). As a long time card collector, I can’t imagine a better world!

Beyond his exploits in chasing down awesome vintage cardboard and running the show in Cooperstown, Jeff knows a thing or two about interpersonal relationships, and especiall1960 Topps Carl Yastrzemskiy about finding the right woman. If you’ve ever had to come clean about your hobby to a significant other, you’ll love the story he penned recently for the SABR Baseball Cards blog.

And if you want to get in touch with “Your Worship!” — Jeff says that’s what they call mayors in Canada  — you can follow him on Twitter (@SplitSeason1981), visit his website, or drop him an email at

And, of course, you can always visit his hometown, but beware — you may never want to leave!

(Read all of our collector stories here. Want to share your own story? Let me know!)