Kevin Nash: Huge Collector
Jul 31 2008 4:13PM
CHICAGO – Professional wrestling legend Kevin Nash is – quite literally and figuratively – a huge collector. How huge? Try 6-10 and more than 300 pounds with an affinity for signed baseballs of the immortal 500 Home Run Club.
Nash, currently a headline performer with TNA, was on hand for the first two days of the 29th National Sports Collectors Convention signing autographs and shaking hands on behalf of TRISTAR. In an impressive display of multitasking, Nash warmly addressed a healthy throng of fans while fielding a few Beckett softballs.
Beckett: When did you start collecting?
Nash: As a kid, we collected baseball cards. 1966 Topps is the first set I can remember collecting the set and using the checklists. The first series that my brother and I got all of them was 1968 [Topps]. I was always a home run fan so my collection starts with the 500 collection.
Beckett: How has your collection evolved since then?
Nash: As I got older, of course, your mom throws everything away. Once I got into wrestling and started making some money, I decided I'd start getting some things I wanted, like some Bowman cards. I remember having George Kell when I was a kid and it being so beaten up. I became a fan of those. And my first basketball cards were maybe the 1973s; Lew Alcindor was a key card in that set.
Beckett: What do you collect today?
Nash: I've got everybody who's hit 500 home runs except for [Jim] Thome and [Rafael] Palmeiro. I have them all on baseballs. I've got a really good Ruth ball. I've got a really good [Mel] Ott. I've got an Eastern League Jimmie Foxx. McGwire doesn't sign on the sweet spot but I've actually got him on the sweet spot, but it's personalized.
Beckett: How many would you say you've obtained in person?
Nash: Probably only four or five.
Beckett: When do you intend to add Thome and Palmeiro?
Nash: I put a wish list out for this show here so I'm sure I'll have them by the end of the show; probably by tomorrow.
Beckett: Of the ones you've obtained in person, I'm sure many of those players are fans of you as well, right?
Nash: I think it's always a mutual thing with guys. I think most guys grow up watching wrestling. The younger guys watch us and most of their kids watch us. So that's cool. I was at the convention in Anaheim in 1997 or 1998 and I was in the green room waiting to sign and Eddie Mathews was in there. I grew up in Detroit and I think we got Mathews in '69 or '70, we traded for him. And I was like, "Wow, that's Eddie Mathews. I'm going to mark out and get an autograph." So I walked up to him and he looked up and he goes, "Hey, Kevin." I went, "Wow. Eddie Mathews knows who I am."
Beckett: Is there anything else in your collection that you focus on?
Nash: [Wilt] Chamberlain was my favorite basketball player so I've got a Chamberlain basketball. I just got a Paul Hornung football, an Earl Campbell football and a Jim Otto football. I don't have anything from Gordie Howe, and he's here this week. So I'm going to see if I can get something from Gordie. He was my man. I grew up watching him as a kid.
Beckett: What about wrestling memorabilia?
Nash: Absolutely none. I didn't even keep any of my old dolls. When the Legends set came out, and the Diesel doll was in there, I said, "You know what, I'm about done, maybe I should start keeping a few of these for when I get older." I've just kind of slowly found a couple of my thing here and there.
Beckett: No trunks, no robes . . .
Nash: Nothing. I think I've got a picture of me and Hulk signed.
Beckett: What about belts?
Nash: I actually have an original of the WCW belt, but I don't have any of the WWE belts.
Beckett: Where do you keep all of your stuff?
Nash: The baseballs are in a safe-deposit box, the ones that are worth money; the Ruth, the Ott, the DiMaggio, Williams, Mantle.
Beckett: So, is the Ruth ball the unquestioned prize of the Nash collection?
Nash: It wasn't the hardest one for me to get. The hardest one for me to get was the Ott ball. I remember when I was a kid I used to read all this sports stuff and I remember reading the Mel Ott Story. That was one of the books we had in the library. Ott actually dated the ball "1951."
Beckett: But if there's a fire and you can only grab one, which one do you keep?
Nash: Oh . . . I've gotta take the Ruth.
Beckett: Are all the baseballs in pretty good shape?
Nash: Yeah. The Ruth is an FBI, forensically documented ball. I've seen a couple that are better, but it's pretty nice.
Beckett: Do you collect any cards at all?
Nash: No. I tried to get my son into it. He's 12. He collected Yu-Gi-Oh! cards for awhile.
Beckett: What about Kevin Nash cards?
Nash: I have a couple of the new TNA cards but I don't have any of the WWE cards. My son's more interested in Yu-Gi-Oh! cards than he is my cards. He thought the back of the new TNA card was fabulous because he said everything's made up on the back.
Beckett: Was it your idea to sign the Obama notations for the TRISTAR product?
Nash: They asked me who I was going to vote for and I said I was going to vote for Obama. They said, "You'd really put that on a card" and I said, "Yeah."