By Ray Schulte
The producers of cable television's top-rated "Pawn Stars" will be premiering a new memorabilia reality show this spring called "Ball Boys." The show will feature Robbie Davis Sr. and Jr., "Sweet Lou" Brown and Rob "Shaggy" Reier of Robbie's First Base. I sat down with Robbie Sr. to talk about Robbie's First Base and what we can expect when "Ball Boys" premieres at 3 p.m. March 24 on ABC.
|Robbie Davis Jr., "Sweet Lou" Brown, Robbie Davis Sr., Rob "Shaggy" Reier|
Ray Schulte: What inspired you to become involved with sports collectibles and memorabilia?
Robbie Davis Sr.: When I left the automobile business in 1989, I opened Postal USA. In the store space we rented, there was plenty of room for two businesses to co-exist. I started Robbie's First Base for my son, Robbie Jr., to buy and sell baseball cards. At the time, Robbie Jr. was only 11 years old.
RS: When you started, where was Robbie's First Base located?
RD: I opened the doors to Robbie's First Base in Timonium, Md. The store is named after my son and my best friend, Eddie Murray, who played first base for the Orioles.
RS: Do you associate with many of the current and former athletes in the Baltimore area?
RD: Al Bumbry works here with us, and I am friends with just about every major sports person in the Baltimore area, including Brooks Robinson, Art Donovan, Lenny Moore and Ken Singleton, to name a few. In 1989, when the store first opened, Eddie Murray flew here from California, on his own dime, to help open the store. He signed autographs for five hours at no charge to us.
RS: What is the greatest piece of vintage memorabilia you've owned or have sold through Robbie's First Base?
RD: I would have to say a baseball signed by Babe Ruth and another one signed by Lou Gehrig.
RS: Does Robbie's specialize in programs that connect with the community?
RD: Yes, we specialize in charity auctions for non-profit organizations and schools throughout Baltimore. For the past 20 years, we have offered our memorabilia items to organizations at a very fair price. Everything over our cost, the organizations keeps; it's a win-win for the group, because if something does not sell, they can return it. However, Baltimore Ravens-signed memorabilia is by far the most requested.
RS: Does Robbie's use social media, Web site and database marketing to reach current and potential customers?
RD: We use Facebook and robbiesfirstbase.com is a great way to brand our business. We are very fortunate to have a great following throughout Baltimore.
RS: Robbie's First Base is about to be featured in a reality series on ABC. Explain how the show "Ball Boys" came about and what we can expect throughout the year.
RD: The producers of "Pawn Stars" and "American Restoration" called us out of the blue two years ago. They wanted to feature a memorabilia store like ours on the History Channel, similar to "Pawn Stars."
They filmed us for three days, but before History Channel could say yes, ABC Network agreed to purchase the show. ABC agreed to purchase 12 half-hour episodes in year one. Filming at Robbie's First Base started Aug. 15, 2011, and concluded Nov. 30.
RS: Why did they select Robbie's First Base?
RD: I think it was based on my access to star athletes, 20 years of experience in the memorabilia business and the hometown barbershop atmosphere. This is a place where everyone has an opinion. I called on friends such as Pete Rose, Jim Brown, Jalen Rose, Warren Moon and Logan Morison, as well as some additional high-profile athletes you will see in future episodes.
Follow Ray @ twitter.com/SchulteSports and e-mail him at Ray@SchulteSports.com.
Issue 170: February 2012