As noted in my last post hobby pioneer, historian and custom card producer par excellence Bob Lemke passed away Tuesday at the age of 65. This is from Sports Collector's Digest which in years past he edited and published:
Bob Lemke, former editor and publisher of Sports Collectors Digest, passed away Tuesday morning, Jan. 3, at a hospital near his home in Central Pennsylvania. Those in the sports collecting hobby/business know what a towering figure he was and his influence and impact over almost four decades was enormous.
Lemke began in the sports card periodical market as editor of Baseball Cards magazine when it was launched in 1980.
In Sept. 1981 he became editor of Sports Collectors Digest. He became executive editor of SCD in Oct. 1982. In May 1983 Lemke was promoted to V.P. of Sports at Krause Publications.
In addition to his work on sports card and memorabilia collecting periodicals, he also became well known for his work on the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, considered the bible of card collectors across the country. He was the founding editor of the book and served in that capacity for around 30 years.
He had had some health issues in the last few years, some of which contributed to his decision to curtail his production and sales of his wonderful custom cards. Luckily for fans of his cards, like me, he had made them available again sometime last year.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to correspond with Bob through the years. He had a bit of the curmudgeon in him but I always found him polite and generous. He included 'extras' in a couple of my orders. I feel somewhat guilty in that one of my first thoughts after hearing of his passing was that I still had a bunch of his cards on my 'wishlist'.
In the back of the binders that hold my '58, '59 and '60 baseball sets I have a page that contains cards issued by Bob that supplement each set. They are nice 'companion' pieces to the original cards. My last order from Bob was for a couple of his '58 cards including this one of Phillies first baseman Ed Bouchee. Bob's intent was to fill in the gap left when Topps decided that Bouchee wouldn't be included in that set.
You can read about the reason on Bochee'sWikipedia page. And on Bob's blog you can read about his creation of the card.
I guess collectors of the '58 set have always had to leave a 'hole' on that page, make their own #145 or deal with the numbering being 'off'. Being able to slot a card into the '58 binder of such high quality was very satisfying.
Bouchee was never quite able to replicate those rookie numbers. In him abbreviated '58 season he hit .257 with nine homers. His '59 season nearly matched his rookie year but after that he stats dropped off. He was dealt to the Cubs in May of 1960 and was picked by the Mets in the expansion draft the following year. He split the '62 season between New York and the minors and after spending 1963 in the minors he retired. He went on to work for ACDelco and retired to Arizona. He had a son, Chris, who played in the Phillies organization for a couple of seasons.
I really like that Bob did this card with a black background. That is rare in the '58 set and a nice change from the numerous yellow cards that predominate. Bob usually 'cribbed' the cartoons from other cards and re-purposed them for his customs. But his work was so painstakingly good you'd never know without him telling you. The ones he used for the #145 were perfect.
Speaking of yellow backgrounds...Bob made an alternate front for his Bouchee card. I like it but the black one feels more 'authentic' so that's the one I have in the proper slot in my 1958 Topps binder.
Every time I flip though the set I'll come across that Bouchee card and be reminded of Bob. RIP