Having this blog connects me to other people who have the same passion for collecting these helmets as I do and many times I am in contact with them frequently throughout the year. At times, I get frustrated with myself when they send me information that I missed a good auction because life becomes to busy, or more importantly, I'm just not paying close enough attention to what is out there. Recently, I was really upset when I missed an auction for a rare Kansas City Athletics helmet. It was like nothing that I had ever seen before. In my frustration, I scoured the web with every damn Google search for souvenir helmets that was known to man. Miraculously, I stumbled across a gentleman in Chicago that was recently selling his helmets on an unknown and basically unlisted website and wouldn't you know it, right there smack dab in the middle of his helmets was the same helmet I missed out on. Yeah, needless to say I couldn't type the guy an email fast enough and he eventually responded after about three days. Long story short, I still got the helmet that I missed out on and as a bonus I paid an 1/8th of the price that was paid for that other helmet on eBay. Lucky me!
Sometimes I get lucky, like really lucky. That would be the case for this Baltimore Orioles helmet that you see to the right. I was surfing the web one day and stumbled upon this little beauty. I was so excited that I immediately wrote to the gentleman and asked him if he would be willing to sell it to me? I won't mention the price I offered, but I will mention that I sent this message before I went to school to teach and I had not heard back from him before I left. I had almost forgotten about the helmet, but I decided to do a quick check of my email over lunch and I noticed that he had messaged me back. I did a quick response and he agreed, but that is not where the story is interesting. When he wrote me back he had told me that a gentleman had written to him right after he answered me email and the other person had offered him twice as much as what I had offered just five minutes after I sent me message. That gentleman wanted to buy it because he was going to a baseball card show that weekend and he wanted to get Brooks Robinson to autograph it. Whew!! Thank goodness that seller sold in good conscience because I have never seen another helmet like this one. And no, I won't tell you what I paid for it. Some things are better to take to the grave.
Another story deals with the awesome all yellow Pittsburgh Pirates helmet that I recently acquired in January of 2007. There isn't much to this story, but the gentleman told me that it was purchased for him when he was in grade school and that would have been in the 60's. He didn't give a reason as to why he was selling it and at the same time I assumed that the helmet came out in '69 since it still has a real sticker and it also has the Adjustrap inside of it. Again, I think this is an extremely rare helmet, especially since it is the only helmet like this that I have ever seen.
On a different note, I do acquire a lot of the "duck-billed" helmets as I like to call them. It seems as though a lot of people don't care to collect these but I think they are really neat because they seem to be so different. I got an email from a gentleman in March of 2006 telling me how he remembered those helmets being sold at Fulton County Stadium back in '74. Also, he had mentioned how once you purchased the helmet the seller would then apply the sticker for you right there. He had stated that he got an Angels helmet like that through the mail when he was a teenager. A great example of the lighter blue Braves helmet with an outlined red "A" logo can be seen to the left. These tend to be hit or miss and I have acquired many of them over the years.
Moving right along, I got the privilege to acquire an old 60's helmet from a gentleman in New Jersey back in January of 2006. This story really has some cool history with it. He had purchased the helmet as an adult, but he had always seen them and wanted one as a child. He told me that he remembered them being at Connie Mack Stadium and he thought the price was around $2.50 which of course would not be cheap for a child back then. He had mentioned how he and his friends would sneak into the stadium to watch games because he came from a poor family. (It's amazing what you could get away with back in those days.) The only reason that he was parting with the helmet was that he was making room in his house and some items had to go. It's amazing how many times I hear a story like that and I hope that I never fall into that abyss of having to get rid of my helmets. I was honored to take on this helmet into my collection and it was a great addition.
The next helmet with a story showed up in September of 2005. I dropped a $100 on this helmet on eBay and purchased it from a gentleman in Chicago. (If you haven't figured it out yet, Chicago tends to be a hotbed for these helmets!) The helmet was the very first blue White Sox helmet that I ever came across. The neat thing about this one, however, is that it said Grand Stand on the helmet so it was an obvious promotional helmet. After requesting more information, the gentleman told me that the helmet was his brother's. The gentleman stated that he was only a year old while his brother was eight years old in 1970. The helmet was given out at Comisky Park during Grand Stand Helmet Day. His brother also belonged to the White Sox Knothole Gang fan club, but this gentleman did not know if this helmet giveaway was affiliated with being in that group. He included that it had been in his family the entire time and those are the helmets that I am thrilled to get because I know they are not going anywhere as long as I own them. (On a side note, I recently discovered that none other than Branch Rickey was the man who came up with the Knot Hole Kids gangs. Isn't that kind of cool!)
Moving on with what few stories I have, I feel the need to mention two helmets that are partially connected by one story and showed up in the Fall of 2004. The first info here deals with another Senators helmet that I picked up for a pretty hefty price (It's actually the second largest amount of money I have spent on a helmet). After purchasing it off of a gentleman from the east coast (I'd rather not talk about the price because I still have nightmares about what I paid for it!) he informed me that he had been collecting memorabilia from the Senators for about the last twenty years up and down the eastern coast. In that time frame he told me that helmet was the only one that he had ever come across for sale (He obviously purchased it.) and that they were extremely hard to come by. So, I guess I can kind of rest assured that the money was worth it for a plastic child's souvenir helmet from the 1960's? (Some people that I know just think I'm crazy for spending that money on something like that.) That same person later hit me up asking if he could buy it back off of me. Nope. This however is not where this story ends.
Within a week, the helmet that I dropped the largest amount of money on appeared on eBay. That helmet was, in my opinion, the even rarer Colt .45's helmet. I never thought that I had a chance to get this helmet as I watched it roll through the auction process. If I remember correctly, the auction was even a ten day listing as opposed to the seven so I had more time to have a psych tell me if I was absolutely crazy for what I was about to do. Again, I'm not divulging what I spent, but just let me tell you that my wife was okay with it, and my mother thought that I had completely lost it. I can say that it ranks pretty high on my favorite's list just because the logo and team name is so different from the other teams. Heck, I would go out on a limb and say that the .45's would not even have lasted in today's society as a team name because somebody would probably have complained that the name was to violent, or better yet, that it would make people go out and want to buy a .45 caliber gun. Seriously, if the Bullets couldn't make it in the NBA then how could the .45's make it?
Another helmet that I discovered I only paid $9.99 for and I think it is still one of the rarer helmets that I own. That helmet would be the Cardinals helmet pictured at the upper left. The sticker was really bizarre. I knew that the Cardinals used to wear a blue helmet that had a red STL with a white outline in the sixties and it was similar to the one they wear today, but I couldn't find one picture of a Cardinals player wearing a cap that came close to this helmet. It's so weird that I could only give a time frame of the early to mid-60's for this helmet. I finally got more information on this from a fan of this website who took the time to do some research while he was down and out. I'm glad that he took the time because at that time I had already bought a few other Cardinal helmets that were baffling to me. After combining his research and a little more snooping on my own, the whole Cardinal Helmet Mystery finally came to and end. Thanks for your help, Robert.
I always try to get the story from people when I purchase a helmet off of them, but in 95% of the cases there is no story to go along with the helmet. My theory on that is that most of these helmets are valuable (not in terms of dollars) to the people who own them and those people are not the ones selling these helmets on eBay. The other rare helmets that show up have been picked up at flea markets, garage sales, or just in passing and their is no personal value to those individuals. Anyway, getting back to some purchases, I would say my next steal would have been the Senators helmet at right. Like I said earlier, I can't give away all of my secrets (I'm talking about the types of searches I do on eBay when I speak of secrets.) but this little beauty popped up one day on eBay back in 2004 if I remember right. It was obvious that there weren't a lot people looking at it because when it came down to the final day of the auction it was still going for about $15.00. I watched it, placed my bid, and walked away with it for a little under $50. That has always shocked me because at that time this was the only helmet like this one on eBay that I had ever seen. Of course, I believe that there are more like this out there (and a few of these have appeared), but again, it's one of only a few that I've seen. For its age, the helmet is kind of cheaply made. Most helmets that I pull from the 60's are made of fairly strong plastic, but this one is really kind of thin and flimsy, nonetheless, it is still a great find.
Moving along to my next strange purchase, I come to a helmet that has always baffled me. Shortly after lucking into my big purchase, I came across another auction on eBay that seemed to slip under everybody's radar. This would have been July 2001 and the lady that listed these helmets had listed them rather strangely (sorry, I can't give away all of my good secrets for finding helmets). The helmets did not sell and I missed bidding on them before the auction ended. I did however get a second chance to acquire them and ended up dropping $45 for the pair. The two helmets that I purchased from a lady in Chicago can be seen above.
The first helmet was easily recognizable to me by now as a White Sox helmet, but the first thing I noticed on the helmet was that it did not have any holes in the top of it like my other helmets. It is even easier to see this on the mystery helmet next to it. The thing that struck me as strange was that nobody else had discovered these two helmets and at that time the only other older White Sox helmet that I had seen listed on eBay went for about $65 and it was damaged. After arriving at my door, I looked for a company name on the inside of the helmets and to my surprise there were no markings of any kind. The helmets do still shows signs of where foam padding would have been, but that is it. I looked for more information from the lady I purchased them off of but the only thing she could give me was that they came out of a neighbor's attic and that those neighbors had lived there for about 50 years. The son who lived there now was an eccentric hippie, had a very poor memory, and while wearing a gas mask dug these out of his attic.
I sent an email with a photo of the mystery helmet to the Baseball Hall of Fame and they could not give me any information on the helmet colors or logo. I assumed that the mystery helmet may be a minor league helmet of some sort, and I was almost positive it had nothing to do with the Chicago Cubs, but who knew? Come to find out I was completely wrong and it actually was a Cubs helmets through some much older company. Check out the Cubs page to see another that I found which is almost just like it.