Michael Osacky is in town this week to help Winter Parkers discover the worth of their sports treasures.
Imagine doing some cleaning up in the attic and stumbling upon a small shoe box.
Your curiosity is piqued by the dust covered cardboard container, so you decide to just take a peek to see what’s inside.
Lo and behold there sits dozens and dozens of old baseball cards with some familiar names on them.
The excitement of discovery lingers on as you’re left with the final question — what are the value of these things?
This is where Michael Osacky, a vintage sports memorabilia expert, comes into the picture.
With his 20-years of experience appraising old sports items, Osacky has become a well-documented aficionado of all things sports, especially as it relates to baseball cards — which has earned him the title of “Dean of Cracker Jacks Baseball Cards” by Forbes Magazine.
“It’s different every day — I never know who is going to call me or what things I’ll see,” Osacky said. “It’s really interesting.”
Although the Chicago native and his business, Baseball in the Attic, are headquartered in the Windy City, Osacky himself travels around a lot for the job, which is why he found himself in Winter Park this past Thursday for a couple of appointments.
Along with the set appointments he has, Osacky is also offering free verbal appraisals for those interested in learning about their vintage sports items.
Osacky also said that Winter Park was an ideal place to visit for his business, thanks in part to the sports collectors in the area, and also the heavy presence of baseball in the state.
“There’s a lot of snowbirds, and of course a lot of spring training camps in Florida,” Osacky said. “So over the years people just have things — whether it’s a childhood card collection, an autograph that was passed down to them, so I’m really happy to share my knowledge and expertise with people in the community.”
That expertise is something that Osacky has built up over the last two decades since that fateful moment when his grandfather gave him a shoebox full of old baseball cards for his 17th birthday back in 1997.
Up until his birthday, his grandfather had noticed his routine of taking his bicycle out to the store every now and then to buy a pack or two of new cards.
That’s when, looking to introduce his grandson to the classics, Osacky’s grandfather gave him that box of cards — from there, the simple gesture would spark an incredible passion.
“He got me these old cards that I had never seen before — cards from the 50s and 60s,” Osacky said. “It got me into the hunt of trying to find more of those cards, (and to) also learn about the history associated with all the players and then figure out what makes something valuable or not valuable.”
From there on Osacky has traveled all over and has come across some amazing finds as a vintage sports appraiser — including a baseball signed by Babe Ruth the month that he passed away, and championship rings from the Chicago Bulls’ dominant run in the early-90s.
But of all the items he has seen, none come close to the price range of one of the most expensive items that he has helped appraise.
A few years ago, at an appraisal held at a library, Osacky met a couple who came in with a collection of very rare baseball cards from the early 1900s.
“They had a complete 176 baseball card collection of the 1915 Crack Jacks and they thought it was worth a couple of thousand bucks, so they kept it in a safety deposit box because they knew it was valuable,” Osacky said. “And I said, ‘no it’s not worth $2,000… it’s worth $80,000 to $85,000’ — they got very emotional.”
It’s joyful moments like that, and the fun of helping educate people about their sports items that Osacky treasures the most — and just think, it all started with a simple box of baseball cards.
“This is my passion — this is my calling in life,” Osacky said. “I have a skill set that not a lot of people have, and it’s great — I like helping people and informing people.”