Sports cards and memorabilia have been a part of Leo Zerhusen's life for as long as he can remember. Through the years, Zerhusen has used that lifelong hobby to continue a tradition his father created when he was a student at Monsignor Slade Catholic School in Glen Burnie.
For about the last three decades from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month -- besides July -- Zerhusen, 38, has been involved in putting together a sports card and memorabilia show to raise money for his alma mater.
Zerhusen said he helped his father, Leo Sr., start the show during the mid- to late-1980s while he was a teacher at Monsignor Slade Catholic School. After his father stepped down as the manager of the show several years ago, Zerhusen said he knew he had to take over for him and keep it going.
"Since I went to [Monsignor Slade Catholic School], and now that I have kids who go to the school, it was a good way to give back to a place that gave a lot to me," Zerhusen said. "[Sports] cards have always been a big part of my life growing up, and my grandfather got me started as a collector when I was about 6 years old."
Zerhusen acknowledged that he had continued building off the foundation his father put in place. He said he was able to accomplish that in part with the help from some Baltimore sports greats such as former Baltimore Colts and Pro Football Hall of Famers John Mackey and Jim Parker, and former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey.
"We can't afford to necessarily bring a signer or player in, but we try to work with different people if they are interested," Zerhusen said. "If we're able to bring in a player, we give them the space they need for free to do autograph signings."
In addition to autograph sessions with players, Zerhusen said a number of dealers from around the country had reached out to him to take part in the monthly show. He noted that there are currently six dealers from the National Sports Collectors Convention who come to the show, and there is also a dealer from New York who leaves at 4:30 a.m. on the day of each show to make the 8 a.m. start time.
"We just don't have dealers from Maryland," Zerhusen said. "We have a lot of dealers coming from different states and places to come do the show. It's crazy."
One of the dealers, Ed Schott, a Baltimore native who has been collecting sports memorabilia for the last 25 years, said the show allowed him to connect with the younger generation of collectors.
"When I see kids at the show, I ask who their favorite team or player is," Schott said. "I try to give them a few free cards. I love seeing the looks on their faces, and I hope it will spark some interest in the hobby as well."
Zerhusen echoed Schott's sentiments, and said the show had started to take on a life of its own.
"The cool thing about the show is that it's almost become a community of friends and dealers who come out to each show," Zerhusen said. "People are ready to get in the door at 7:30 a.m. to start talking, buying, selling and trading. It's become something that people really look forward to."