2013-10-24 / Front Page

Sports memorabilia items on display this weekend

By KATHY CHANG
Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — New York Yankees fans or those who just appreciate the game of baseball may want to stop by 58 Mitchell Ave. in East Brunswick this weekend.

“This is my field of dreams,” said Harvey Wildstein, who is opening his doors for a sports memorabilia sale of unique baseball photos, baseballs, bats and jerseys from the players of today, including everyone from Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and the recently retired Mariano Rivera to the likes of Joe Dimaggio, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Roger Maris and Sandy Kofax on Oct. 26 and 27.

His collections, which all have certificates of authenticity, began 40 years ago in an attempt to stop his love of gambling. He said he made countless trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas, among other places.

“It was one day when I was flipping through [television] channels of the games when I realized that I was not having fun anymore,” he said.

Wildstein said he made the decision to buy sports memorabilia every time he felt the urge to gamble. After 40 years, his collection has grown to thousands of collectible items, which also includes a signed baseball and photo by Babe Ruth, also known as “the Bambino” and “the Sultan of Swat.”

“I went from one addiction to another,” he said. “However, this addiction is not hurting anybody, and at least I get something out of it.”

The items are displayed in his basement, though some items were shipped to his daughter in California and some are with his other daughter in Old Bridge.

“I tell them that those items should be hung on the wall when I visit,” he said. “It is something that one should be proud of and display.”

Wildstein said his wife, Frances, puts up with his obsession, but it was about 15 years ago when she politely put her foot down.

In their den, he hung a photo of New York Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio, also known as “The Yankee Clipper,” on See the video one side of the www.gmnews.com fireplace, photos of his daughters in the center, and a photo of Mickey Charles Mantle, also known as “the Mick,” on the other side.

“I was sitting watching the game when she politely tapped my shoulder and said Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle are not part of our family,” he said with a laugh. “The basement is where they went.”

Wildstein said he’s coming to an age when he needs to start parting ways with some of the items. However, he said, he cringes every time he sells an item.

Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Wildstein lived in a neighborhood filled with Brooklyn Dodger fans, he said.

“I thought there needed to be more teams outside of the Brooklyn Dodgers,” he said. “That is when I made the train trip to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, which at the time seemed like you were going to another country from Brooklyn. I was 14 years old at the time, and it was the first time I saw Joe DiMaggio at center field. … It was that moment I told myself I was a New York Yankees fan.”

And so the Yankees memorabilia collection began, with a few DiMaggio buttons.

In 2009, he traveled to Yankee Stadium with his sons-in-law and daughters for Old Timers Day, a special game for Hall of Famers.

“I was sitting there with tears in my eyes,” he said. “It just brings back memories.”

People can come by and peruse or purchase items from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Wildstein’s home, 58 Mitchell Ave., East Brunswick on Oct. 26 and 27. Aside from New York Yankees items, other things for sale include some football, Mets, basketball and boxing items.

For more information, contact Wildstein at 848-203-4259.

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