THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY

SPORTS Can you name the Dallas-based publishing company currently producing four magazines with a total circulation of more than 1.78 million? If you guessed Beckett Publications, you’re probably a boy between the ages of 10 and 16, or the father of such a creature, and you collect sports cards. No one is more aware of this market and its implications than Beckett, a business with some unashamedly old-fashioned goals.

“I’m not going to say that we are in the education business,” says PEPPER HASTINGS, managing editor of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly and the company’s three other books. “But we certainly are trying to get kids in the habit of reading. If a boy is reading our magazine, it means he’s not watching TV.”

Beyond that basic. Beckett’s sports magazines harken backto more innocent, less commercial times, before the sportscard market was swarmingwith 14-year-old sharks puttingtogether card shows andmiddle-aged “great white”sharks looking to separate thekiddos from their cash. During the past 10 years, the sportsmemorabilia business has become a massive, cutthroat industry. Many pro athletes now refuse to sign autographs-and feel good about it-because there’s ample proof that so many kids are just in it for the money.

Beckett is the brainchild of

Dr. JAMES BECKETT -Ph.D.

Statistics, SMU-an avid card collector. Currently Baseball Monthly is the bible of collectors, circulating 900,000 copies per issue.

While Beckett’s does devote space to sports card shows (the November issue listed an unprecedented 1,200 shows across the nation that month), it tries to keep the focus on fun, not funds. So if you’ve got 10 Don Mossi cards in an old shoe box somewhere, trot ’em out. They still won’t bring you a Don Larsen or a Don Matting-ly, but at least there’s a magazine for people who are willing to try.

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