Bucks County Baseball Cards Connection
by Cate Murway
Once upon a time, every small town had at least one sports cards store; now, they are practically an endangered species. But fortunately for 19007, it is the home of an ultimate collector’s dream.
Historic Bristol on the Delaware residents, looking for a unique autographed gift item, or those who simply want a personally signed photo from an athlete, have the perfect store right on Mill Street.
Bucks County Baseball Cards does not merely house beautifully printed and presented cards featuring a retired triumvirate of all-stars from baseball's gilded ages, even though at one time, cards were churned out with the conviction that every kid had to have them all. This family-owned shop features a vast array of collectible framed photographs, historical items, sports equipment and memorabilia, game-worn and vintage jerseys including those of Jeffrey Paul Manto, a big talent from this small town; SGA [Stadium Giveaway items], publications and toys. Many of the items are autographed, adding the value of the sports hero’s signature.
James Paul Lutz, Jr. and his son, James Paul, “J.P” Lutz III made a business out of their passion and their combined expert knowledge gives them a significant advantage.
“My background is in the sports industry.”
J.P. worked for the Philadelphia Eagles for 13 years after earning his degree from Drexel University, before working for Philadelphia Soul, the professional arena football team. He earned his Masters in Sports Management and is currently an adjunct professor at several universities in the area. The former high jumper continues setting the bar high.
He and his dad unwaveringly believe in the indelible goodness of America's favorite pastimes and they have procured a vast selection from which the avid sports collector, or those just looking for a great sports-related gift, can choose. Sports lovers can be sure to find a treasure trove of items of interest at 237 Mill Street. Choose a team! It's YOUR game plan!
What is the appeal?
Belief seems to be that only one out of every thousand players drafted will ever play on a major league field, so the signed book or sports memorabilia lets the collector own a piece of that famous athlete, a moment in time, and a tangible memory of player s who have made and left their mark on a particular sport. People actually fight for and fight over things an important sports figure may have signed, touched, used, thrown into a crowd, sold, or donated.
A certificate of authenticity [COA] certifies the genuineness of any hand-signed autographed item, so customers know they are receiving the real deal, verifying their purchase.
Jim and J.P. opened up the shop in Bristol Borough, their own town, to offer a variety of sports items and become a resource for the kids and the community. “We look for ways to help out in our community.”
The Bristol Borough Business Association recently welcomed Bucks County Baseball Cards as their newest member. The store remains open from 5-8pm as part of Bristol's First Fridays on Mill Street.
Special purchase incentives will be offered to the BBBA, Bucks County Business Association and Visit Bucks County membership groups.
“We definitely want to be part of the business community and we are focused on the revitalization of Bristol. We will continue to be creative to get our customers to come to Bristol.”
In addition to competitive prices on autographed items and cards, Jim and J.P. offer a number of promotions and giveaways within the community. In many instances, their service is offered to charitable organizations for the expressed purpose of assisting them in raising funds.
They recently donated an autographed framed item and provided some consignment items for the Villa Joseph Marie Auction last spring.
Their goal is that BCBC can become a destination point for sports fans all over Bucks County and beyond. A variety of events are in the planning. Future autograph-signing sessions and collectible swaps will be held at their store.
“We want to bring down signers; somebody, a current or former player of the Phillies or Eagles or Sixers and bring them down to sign autographs.”
Jim and J.P. generously flaunt their entrepreneurial spirit with famous sports memorabilia for all to enjoy. Many items line the walls and some sections of their store provide a museum-like atmosphere for the enjoyment of both adults and children. “People come in just to look around.”
The Lutz family owned the building, previously the Spector’s Clothing and Dry Goods store, for almost a decade. Jim totally remodeled the upstairs apartment and then partnered with his son in the sports business a little over a year ago. They have maintained the modest character of the building, including the original dark wood wall cabinets, the tin ceiling panels and the old-fashioned storefront awning, a nod to midcentury practicality. These are visually appealing details that may otherwise have been lost to time.
“It started out as a hobby almost 40 years ago with the store on Pond Street, then card shows at Kings Caterers. It’s still a hobby. Some things in the store I won’t sell, like my seats from Connie Mack stadium.”
Jim promoted sports memorabilia conventions in the 1980's and his shows were always well run and well attended. He remembers accompanying his dad, the late Field Artillery Sgt. James Paul, Sr. on treks to Connie Mack stadium, baseball's first concrete and steel stadium, at the corner of 21st and Lehigh Streets to watch the Phillies play. The park was named Connie Mack Stadium in 1953 in honor of the gentlemanly and modest Mr. Mack, who then was known as "The Grand Old Man of Baseball".
A large selection of sports licensed bobble heads from as vintage as the 1970’s along with souvenir seats from the storied; surplus quality seats from the Wachovia Spectrum and the Veterans Stadium, are for sale.
Don’t lose the memories. Bring home an authentic showpiece of the charm and history of “The Vet”, one of the last of the "cookie-cutter" ballparks and the site of 33 years worth of Phillies memories!
Many people do not realize it, but whimsical bobble heads have been around a long time. The bobble head doll is also known as a bobbing head doll, nodder, or wobbler and the first sports bobble heads were created in the 1920s as a promotional stunt for the New York Knickerbockers, commonly referred to as the Knicks. But they had “shaky” beginnings. By the 1930s, interest had waned, and from that point until the 1950’s they were only produced in very limited numbers. Player-specific dolls for Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roger Maris, and Roberto Clemente, were produced for the first time and sold during the 1960 World Series.
So, attention collectors and sports memorabilia enthusiasts who give them a big nod!
Who buys this stuff?
“A lot of people collect bobble heads. Once a month we plan to host a bobble heads ‘Collector Swap’.”
The joy of finding that unique and unexpected treasure amidst a sea of vintage collectibles seems to make Jim’s heart beat just a tad faster. He travels around to card shows and antique shows and he even picked up a classic pin ball machine at the Hershey Park Arcade and Pinball Machine Auction.
Bring the kids! Children can become avid collectors of sports memorabilia. What might have begun as a gift from a family member or friend just may be the impetus to incite a dream to actually meet a player in person at a game. Or once a child sees how much a parent idolized a famous sports figure, he or she may start a lifelong adventure in collecting and learn basic marketing skills: Networking; organizational skills; how to sell and trade; keep inventory; and the law of supply and demand.
Who knows they could grow up to be on Wall Street or the next GM of a major sports team?
This shared passion between a parent and child is a bonding point that they both will cherish.
“Sports is an area that connects people.”
Victim of a tight time schedule?
Well, no wasting gas, standing in line, or fighting the crowd. Bucks County Baseball Cards is accessible twenty-four hours a day with a simple click of your mouse.
Gift certificates are also available.
Top notch customer service has always been, and will forever remain, the most critical element in both building and maintaining a successful shop.
Jim and J.P are good, knowledgeable dealers with enthusiasm and magic in their eyes, happy to answer all of your questions. They can pride themselves on a great selection, an eye for detail, and satisfied customers time and time again...what more could you want?
Bucks County Baseball Cards
237 Mill Street
Bristol, PA 19007
Fri: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm /Sat: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
or call for appointment
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