Time Out: July 9, 2014
By John Bernhardt
In some ways it’s a test of persistence. Of course, having an eye for detail comes in handy, too. Sports’ memorabilia collectors generally start out by collecting cards as kids. But, that’s not the way the passion began for Margaretville resident Missy Hull.
As a high school student, Missy lived for sports. Her favorite sport was basketball. Part of Hull’s high school basketball years came during the era when Margaretville did not have enough girls interested in the sport to field their own team. MCS petitioned Andes, seeking a sports’ merger so interested Margaretville girls could join the ACS girls’ basketball program. That’s how Hull became a Mountaineer on some championship Andes girls’ basketball team.
It was during those years, in 1979 when two college basketball players, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, catapulted into the sports’ consciousness of American fans everywhere. Johnson and Bird were the mainstays of their college basketball teams, Johnson at Michigan State and Bird at Indiana State. And, Missy had never seen a basketball player like Magic Johnson, as tall as a power forward or center, but as graceful and quick of hand as the most able guard.
“I just couldn’t believe what Magic could do. I had never had an interest in the NBA, but when the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson, I decided to check it out,” Hull explained.
Johnson exploded on the professional scene as he had the college landscape. The NBA Rookie of the Year, Johnson teamed with the legendary Kareem Abdul Jabbar to take the Lakers to the NBA finals. With LA in front three games to two, Jabbar sprained an ankle and was unavailable in game six. Johnson responded by manning the vacated center spot scoring 42 points, pulling down 15 rebounds, dishing out seven assists and making three steals as the Lakers brought home the NBA crown.
That’s all it took
“I was hooked,” Hull recalls. “ I just feel in love with Magic, so of course I became a huge Lakers’ fan.”
And, Hull started collecting. At first, it was only sports memorabilia involving Magic Johnson, anything and everything she could find. Hull has amassed a huge tub of items including every Sports Illustrated over the years with a cover of Magic, a post office stamp series when Magic was a member of the United States Dream Team, five of six biographies, Magic’s autobiography, an unopened full box card set of Magic’s Michigan State team, a flattened Magic penny, an unopened bottle of Coors Magic Johnson Banquet Beer, Magic Johnson Basketball Bears, a Magic/Bird Bass limited edition card set with Magic on one side of the card and Bird on the other, Magic Money, cards, posters, anything and everything you can imagine related to the former Laker star.
When Magic was inducted into Springfield’s Hall of Fame, Missy, along with husband Larry and son Mitch, were there. They met Magic after he did a promotion in the Lego tent and Missy finally got the autograph she had been hoping to procure for years.
Hull’s collecting habits expanded when Mitch joined the family. As Mitch took interest as a youngster in different sports, teams and sports stars, Missy introduced him to collecting as a way of supporting his interest in athletics.
Heading to the Hall
Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame induction week became an annual Hull-family excursion. Even former baseball stars who get good bucks for signing, couldn’t ignore a little kid holding out a baseball and looking for an autograph. Mitch collected signed baseballs from several baseball greats including Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Reggie Jackson,
When a glass-enclosed display cabinet was filled with baseballs and other signature items, a new collection strategy emerged. A trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods brought home a home plate, the perfect signature pad for Cooperstown baseball greats.
Eight former professional baseball players signed the plate, seven of the game’s biggest stars, and one former player who played on only a single major league season but was enjoying his time in Cooperstown all the same. Ferguson Jenkins, Bob Feller, Phil Niekro, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Dale Murphy, Paul Blair, and the little known player named Jon Warden, signed the Hull home plate, a baseball treasure indeed.