Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bill Haber, A Tribute

Further to my latest post on the 1970 Topps Teamates set, which included a brief overview of Bill Haber's work at Topps and hobby-related activities,  Keith Olbermann a friend, protege and mentee of Bill's, sent along a nice tribute and better picture (from a mid 1973 issue of Sports Scoop, an old hobby 'zine), which I present here without further comment other than he sounds like he was a really great guy.

He really was more than just a dealer and a Topps employee. He was one of the giants of the early hobby and an indefatigable researcher. When he died he left a virtually complete set of E107 Breisch-Williams (the only prominent set issued between 1895 and 1910) and a full set of T210 Old Mill, plus hundreds of other rare sets. He was an expert on Seattle Popcorn, and the identities of many obscure players are known because he would travel to check local newspapers and death and birth records for SABR.

At Topps, he did more than just write the cards. I've been through the photo archive they're gradually selling via eBay - at least a million negatives - and to the degree it was organized, with the negatives sorted by player and year and which photo shoot that year - that was all done by Bill. If he didn't choose the photos too, he consulted on it and was responsible for keeping them available.

This was one of the titans in the hobby and a good friend and role model to those of us just getting started.


marc61 said...

In the early 90s I had a baseball card hobby shop in Brooklyn. Bill encouraged me to hire his son Marty. We had a great friendship (the Haber family and I). I'm happy to find this blog and to know that Bill's work is appreciated to this day.

marc61 said...

I forgot to mention two things of note - 1 - He always had a fondness for the Colgan's Chips cards. 2 - He had what he described as "Casey Stengel's rookie card" (not sure whioch set it was from) which Bill said was way a rarer than the T-206 Wagner.
Funny but true story - Bill purchased a T-206 Wagner in fair/poor condition for $700 (I believe in the 70s). The following year he had a chance to purchase a much finer one for $1000 but passed because he said he didn't need doubles. Some might have found that foolish but, he wasn't in it for the greed. He was in it for the history.

PJ Lehrer said...

Bill's mom Mary Selmonsky Haber and my grandmother Doris Selmonsky Stern were sisters. I've posted a photo of Bill with his parents from June 1966 here...

toppcat said...

That's great, thank you.