WEST HARTFORD – There is an invisible border in this town – in the entire state, really — situated as it is midway between the two New England Major League Baseball power-houses. Baby-Boomer Howard Siegal straddled the fence of fandom until 1962, when the then-six-year-old caught a screening of “Safe at Home.”
“Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had bit parts in the movie,” Siegal says. “From that moment, I caught the bug and was forever after a Yankees fan and a Mickey Mantle fan.”
He also became a collector of all things Yankee. Now, Siegal’s impressive collection of Yankee memorabilia will be on display at the Mandell JCC in West Hartford on Sunday, Oct. 30, as a backdrop to the “Howard Siegal & Friends’ Game Day!” event, featuring Jane Leavy, author of the recent Mickey Mantle biography, “The Last Boy.”
It wasn’t until 1968 that Siegal went to a Yankees game, but over the next four decades, he went to at least one game every year. As a kid, he developed a passion for collecting, first with stamps and coins, later amassing Yankees and Mantle memorabilia. He started with Topps baseball cards. “I did all the usual things kids would do with the cards – flipping them, putting them in my bike wheels,” Siegal says. “I didn’t know that they were so valuable.as they were, so I didn’t save my original cards from the ‘50s and ‘60s.”
Siegal became a serious collector in 2003, when he went to his first auction of Mantle collectables, led by David and Danny Mantle at Madison Square Garden. The two sons of the legendary player owned a sports-card shop in Texas and were getting out of the business. Siegal bought some of those original baseball cards, as well as baseballs and bats.
Siegal came up with the idea for the one-day Game Day event when he noticed Leavy’s book on the New York Times best-seller list last winter. He discussed the book with fellow Yankees fan David Federman, past president of the JCC, and the two decided to invite Leavy to West Hartford.
Siegal thought it would make for a more interesting event to display a few Yankees items in the room where Leavy would be signing her book. As the program evolved, so did the exhibit. Now the collector has selected 30 exceptional articles to excite real fans, including autographed items and artwork by Charles Fazzino.
For more information on the Oct. 30 Game Day event call (860) 236-4571.