Many music heads are also collectors. There’s a common thread between seeking out new and rare sounds and using that same drive to acquire and celebrate other passions that ties collectors of all kinds. RH Collectors is a series that aims to showcase the collections of the various music heads in Chicago and beyond. In our last edition, we spoke to the Stitch Gawd, who showed off her collection of art and memorabilia that she has collected throughout her time in the Chicago music scene. Today, we turn the spotlight onto Closed Sessions + rubyhornet honcho, DJ RTC.
Going back to his early childhood, RTC has been an avid baseball and basketball collector, and boasts an impressive collection. For this installment, I spent time with RTC’s card collection and asked to speak on a few choice cards. Peep it below.
If you’ve got a collection you want to talk about, hit us up. We want to talk to you.
What got you into collecting cards?
I think it was partly playing sports, and playing on teams all based on major league teams. My first team was the [Atlanta] Braves. I was young, like 6 or 7 years old. I just remember watching the real Braves on TBS and all my teammates wanting to be certain players. The first baseball player I really knew and wanted to emulate was Dale Murphy. Later, my brother introduced the concept of baseball cards to me and I got into keeping stats and dove into the card collecting heavy with many of my friends. It turned into a big social activity. My friends and I all played in the same baseball league, and we all wanted to be like our favorite players. We picked our jersey numbers based on those players. We would hang out all day playing sports and/or trading cards. Then from there it became more obsessive, it was all about who could get the most rare cards in your peer group. It was a good era to be a kid in that the popularity of cards was at an all-time high. It was a great way to feel closer to the game.
Ozzie Guillen: 1985 Fleer Extended Rookie Card
Ozzie Guillen was a shortstop on the White Sox from 1985 to 1997. Then he briefly went to The Orioles, then the Braves, and ended his career with the Devil Rays. In 2003 he came back to manage the White Sox. Ozzie Guillen was my favorite baseball player growing up. I modeled my stance in little league after him, many coaches corrected that because it wasn’t an ideal stance for a little kid to have (fundamentally speaking). My dad started taking me to this card shop by Comiskey Park, and I also got a subscription to this magazine called Beckett that listed the value of baseball cards, and I started noticing this thing called the XRC card, which stood for “extended rookie card.” I saw Ozzie Guillen’s XRC in Beckett and finally tracked this down . I don’t even know at what point I got it, but it took a while. My dad and I got it at Grandstand in Bridgeport. Definitely a prized card, many Sox fans around my age view Ozzie as the man. I can’t speak for older or younger fans, but definitely in my age group, Ozzie was the man. If we could one day throw a Closed Sessions party with Ozzie Guillen in attendance, that’d be great.
Sandy Koufax: 1963 Topps
I connect with Koufax on many levels. One of the great things about baseball, why I also think I like it so much, is that my dad, he kind of got into it with me. My dad’s older, he had me much later in life, when I was 10 he was already 55. For him, his generation of baseball player was from the ‘50s and 60’s. Sandy Koufax was revered in every Jewish household, he was one of the first athletes to proudly be Jewish. Game one of the 1965 World Series games Yom Kippur, which is the Jewish day of atonement. Even for Jews who don’t go to synagogue regularly, Yom Kippur is the one day where you’re supposed to sit back and observe. Sandy Koufax was the Dodgers best pitch and was supposed to pitch that game, he decided to sit out and observe the holiday and became a Jewish folk hero. That’s one piece of it for me, another is in Sunday School there was this teacher who always labeled me as a trouble maker for whatever reason. Whenever anyone did something, he would blame me and send me to the library. So I would be able to get out of Hebrew class and go to the library, and I actually preferred it like that. I’d have nothing to do, so I’d just check out books. There was a book about Sandy Koufax, and anytime I was sent to the library, I’d find the book and pick up from wherever I left off. I learned that the first few years of his career he was really bad, he was 2-2, 2-4, 5-4, 11-11, ERA was high, he wasn’t very good. He had to figure out how to succeed, and its unique because he’s in the Hall of Fame and revered as one of the greatest pitchers ever. He only had a few great seasons, but they were so good that he ended up as one of the best. He also retired early because although he could still play, he said he wanted to “live the rest of my life with the use of my arms.” So I think Sandy Koufax has a lot of things that make him unique: from almost being cut to becoming one of the best, to retaining personal beliefs over sports, and even the idea of quitting while you’re ahead, athletes using their bodies while they still can. Thats why I connect with Koufax on so many levels. This card from 1963 I got at a shop in Skokie. It was one of my first major cards for sure.
Jackie Robinson: 1954 Topps
My brother’s friend Josh was cleaning up his room and that included getting rid of a slew of all of his baseball cards. He dumped them all in one big bag. He called me up and said, ‘if you want to sort through this bag and keep the cards, that’s fine but just know its mostly scrub players, worthless cards.’ So I’m like, ‘ok, I got nothing to do.’ It was summer vacation, I was probably in 3rd or 4th grade. He lived next door, and I went over got this large paper shopping bag of cards. I take them home and start going through them. It’s been a few hours, I’ve gotten some good cards but nothing special… I picked up the next card by the back, I see “Brooklyn Dodgers” and some stats and I’m just getting this feeling like, ‘oh shit, oh shit.’ I was maybe 11 or 12 at the time. It only took a second, but I remember turning the card over in slow motion, in my head thinking ‘please let it be, let it be’ and I remember just having a heart attack. A real life Jackie Robinson baseball card! My mom had these books at home that were called “ValueTales”, they are a series of books that taught kids morals and to believe in themselves etc… There was a book about the story of Johnny Appleseed, Abraham Lincoln, but as cartoons and starting as kids. One of my favorite editions of the series was the Jackie Robinson story, which taught the value of courage. I remember viewing him as this epic figure, and here I was with his baseball card. I remember I was so naive that I called Josh up and was like, ‘thank you so much! I can’t believe there was a Jackie Robinson card in there,’ when he was probably on the other line thinking, ‘damn…’ It was my prized possession, I had it in a single case, one day I guess I left it on the couch or somewhere, I go to bed, then later hear my mom on the phone, all of a sudden all I hear is ‘OH NO, THE DOG HAS THE JACKIE ROBINSON CARD OH MY GOD!” I jumped out of bed, found it in this (ripped) condition, had a meltdown, I probably wanted to kill the dog. I was so sad I probably cried myself to sleep that night. I was so angry and sad I told my mom I didn’t even want it, get rid of it, I didn’t even look at it for maybe 6 months. But she always kept the card around, so later I healed enough to finally put it back in my book and accept it, because it is still a real Jackie Robinson card – it is ripped, but at least I have one, So (Shrugs)…
Michael Jordan: 1990 Upper Deck
For anyone that doesn’t know, really sadly Michael Jordans father was killed the summer after the Bulls won their third championship, the first 3 peat and as a way of coping Michael Jordan stepped away from the Bulls and pursued baseball because that was his dad’s dream (to play in the major leagues). Jordan was good enough to get to the minor leagues with the Birmingham Barons, it had always been known before that he could play baseball well. This card was actually from before that, when he would play in spring training games. The White Sox and Bulls have the same owner. If you’re a real collector you have to have this. It was one of the first years of upper deck coming out and this was just a dope card to have.
Bo Jackson: 1991 Topps Traded
This was big because he was severely injured playing football. He had to retire from the sport and took a while off from baseball. Many people thought he was done. He was released by the Royals right before the season started, the White Sox signed him after the season started and everyone was pretty excited. This was included in Topps “traded edition”, which would come out midway through the season every year and multiple brands started following that format, reissuing cards for marquee players. This was the first card of Bo Jackson as a member of the White Sox. It was significant because he was such a famous player and so heavily tied to the Royals. And extra significant to me as a lifelong White Sox fan. My dad used to take my brother and I to Toys-R-Us and we’d buy packs of trading cards and my brother would always end up taking the best cards because he was 8 years older than me. He’d give me some of my personal favorite players that I’d heard of but actually sucked, while he’d pocketed a Mo Vaughn rookie card or this Bo Jackson card. One day I decided it was time to take them back, so I hope he’s not reading this because I did in fact steal this card back from him. So yeah, First ever Bo Jackson card on the Sox, the highlight of the Topps Traded Edition 1991.
Shawn Respert: 1995 Classic Wooden Award Contender (autographed)
My brother went to college at Michigan State and Shawn Respert and Eric Snow were there and they formed Fire & Ice. He is was the school leader in 3 pointers made, and Michigan State’s all-time leading scorer. This card is special because it came from his collection, which is pretty interesting that I think about it. He graduated in 1995, and was my favorite basketball player at that time. When he got drafted, I wrote him a letter wishing him good luck with The Bucks and stuff. He wrote back with this signed basketball and that cemented him for me as one of my favorites. He never really made it in the NBA. It came out years later that he had stomach cancer and just never told any of his teams. But man he was a hell of a college player and a great guy.
Kobe Bryant: Fleer Ultra 95-96 Rookie Card
Outside of Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant really opened the floodgates for high school players to go straight to the NBA. This was during the height of my card collecting. Getting a Kobe rookie wasn’t much of a big deal at the time, since he hadn’t done anything in the NBA yet, but I had a feeling that this was gonna be special. Similar to music, and how you can tell certain artists are going to be something special, I saw that with Kobe Bryant and basketball. I got this one in a pack. So many years later during his famous feud with Shaq I remember a lot of people siding with Shaq and at the time I was in teach for america training which was in Long Beach, California. There were a lot of kids from LA in that program and we were on the school bus one day and the radio announced that Shaq had just been traded to The Heat. All the kids were like “oh no!! Fuck Kobe” while I was just laughing since I was just a Bulls fan with no particular stake in either side.