As Seen in the St. Louis Cardinals Game Day Magazine.
Batter Up! Kucenas News, Inc. Exclusively Offers
"The Magic of 70 in '98 Forever" Newspaper Collection Series
by Silvia Kucenas Foti
East St. Louis - After more than 30 years of delivering the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Felix Kucenas finally saw the Big One coming. He was on his newspaper route in the summer of 1998 delivering newspapers from his van when an idea hit him with the force of a Mark McGwire homerun.
The St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire had just whacked his 50th homerun. To honor the occasion, the St. Louis Post Dispatch printed a full-page collector's item in the sports section, featuring a poster-size color photo of their town's own hero. In fact, every time McGwire hit another homerun, the paper ran another collector's edition.
It was an opportunity that only one man, a newspaper distributor - also known as The Paper Man - seized upon. He was ready. In some ways, he had been waiting for this for more than three decades, and he knew that the timing was right. The Paper Man ordered 1,000 extra copies of those newspapers. He was going to assemble a collector edition of Mark McGwire's homeruns.
In the baseball world, Mark McGwire was already a record-breaker. He was the first major-leaguer to hit 50 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons. But, of course as everyone knows, in the baseball season of 1998, he didn't stop at 50. He went much, much farther.
"Ever since McGwire came to St. Louis, he's been a hot topic," says Kucenas. "When he started hitting all those homeruns and the newspaper started printing all those extra-special sections, I thought somebody should have the foresight and knowledge to assemble such a collection. As a Post-Dispatch distributor, I was able to generate the extra printing of this product, store it, and hold onto it until the right moment."
For every homerun that McGwire hit, the St. Louis Post Dispatch ran its special poster edition, and the Paper Man, in turn, ordered extra copies. When McGwire hit his 56th and 57th homerun, Kucenas ordered 5,000 editions.
"McGwire and (Sammy) Sosa were in a close race to catch Roger Maris' record, and I wanted to have as many copies of this historical moment as I could," said Kucenas. "When he hit number 57, he broke the National League record, and that was already something special."
Then Kucenas went back to ordering 1,000 extra copies for the next homeruns - numbers 58, 59 and 60. But after the 60th homerun, The Paper Man decided to again increase his order to 5000 for every consecutive homerun. Culminating with McGwire's final record-breaking homerun, number 70.
Also, when Mark McGwire hit homeruns number 61, 62 and 70, the St. Louis Post Dispatch printed special "extra editions", as well as their poster series editions, and Kucenas felt these would compliment his collection so he ordered 5000 copies of those as well.
The result is two types of collector's series. One series is 1,070 copies of McGwire's homerun numbers 50 to 70, it is comprised of the 21 posters plus the extras and totals 30 sections. The second collection has 3,910 copies. The 19 section series consists of 12 McGwire homerun posters - numbers 56, 57 and 61 through 70 plus the additional "extra" editions.
Series One collection is authenticated with a 36 inch by 22 inch certificate and Series Two collection with a 17 inch by 11 inch certificate. Both Series One and Series Two will contain the collection's serial number and it will list pertinent information about each section. This will in turn help preserve the integrity of each collection and will help protect potential buyers from receiving partial collections. Also, each collection will be packaged in a crystal-clear DPC-Ultra film, acid-free protective folder with an acid-free storage box, along with a sleeve showing the logo of "The Magic of 70 in '98 Forever."
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