By Romi Bean

DENVER (CBS4)– “I played baseball. But since I was very poor at the position of catcher, I figured I’ll collect baseball cards and I’ll have some fun with that.”

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It didn’t take long for Marshall Fogel to realize his childhood hobby of collecting baseball cards would become so much more than just a pastime.

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“In 1989, I went to Chicago on holiday and I found out there was a sports convention. It was called the National Sports Convention. I went to the convention and I was hooked. The first thing I ever bought was a 1953 Mickey Mantle Topps baseball card.”

CBS4’s Romi Bean interviews Marshall Fogel (credit: CBS)

Fogel’s love affair with baseball has grown into one of the largest, and most valuable, memorabilia collections in the world. It’s a treasure trove too good to keep to himself. So, the Colorado native is sharing it with the Colorado community at the Play Ball! exhibit at History Colorado Center.

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“It’s emotional for a lot of people because America is ruled by a steamroller. It’s like a blackboard, we erase, we rebuild, we erase. But baseball is time. It reminds us of what once was and what we hope will be in the future. It’s a sanctuary for people. We all have disruptive lives and lots of things going on. But when you go to a stadium it’s perfect – everything is perfect.”

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Fogel’s vast collection all started with a Mickey Mantle card, so it’s only fitting his prized piece is another Mickey Mantle card. But this isn’t just any Mantle card. It’s a PSA 10 gem mint, 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card. Translation: it’s about as close to perfect as it gets.

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I knew about the card, and I knew it got graded gem mint 10. I know what to look for in a card, and this was perfect. It’s the first card of Mantle that’s a photograph. The prior card is like a painting. The photograph of Mantle in that card is special unlike any other card in the set of 1952 Topps,” Fogel said.

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Fogel wanted the card –– he had to have it.

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“I needed to own that card. It was up in an auction. I bought it and when the trading magazine came out, they said, ‘Stupid Marshall Fogell bought the post-war card for over $100,000.’ Now that publication calls me ‘wisely eccentric,’” Fogel said.

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The card is insured for $12 million. And like a true collector, Fogel doesn’t plan on keeping it forever.

Marshall Fogel (credit: CBS)

“I called the cemetery to see if I could get a pyramid built so I could take it with me, but they don’t have enough room for that,” Fogel jokes. “We don’t own anything, we just lease it. So (one day) all this will get sold and somebody else will get to enjoy it.”

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Play Ball! will be open at the History Colorado Center through the 2018 baseball season.

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Romi Bean is a sports anchor and reporter at CBS4. Connect with Romi on Twitter @Romi_Bean.

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