Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen Passes Away

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True Mint

By Dave Sliepka | Beckett Baseball Editor

The sports card industry has lost another icon. Alan “Mr. Mint” Rosen passed away Thursday, Jan. 26, after a battle with leukemia. He was 70-years old.

If you were a collector in the 1980s and ’90s, you knew Alan Rosen. Or at least knew of him. It was hard not to know the self-proclaimed Mr. Mint. From his trademark front-page buying ads in Sports Collectors Digest, to his premium locations at every major show, Al was bigger than life, bigger than the hobby. And he loved it that way. As Mr. Mint, Rosen promoted himself as “The world’s largest buyer of baseball cards and sports cards.”

Before auction houses became commonplace on the industry horizon, Al Rosen – or Mr. Mint – was the industry’s largest buyer of high-end cards and whole collections. His focus was mainly vintage, but he was not afraid to make money on anything. He even dabbled in toys, going by the high-grade moniker, “Mr. C-10.”

From New Jersey, Al was every bit of the East Coast used car dealer stereotype. He was loud, bold, brash and aggressive. And people loved it. To start a show, he would fill a display case with $100 bills. So, when it came to buying, he not only talked a big game, he backed it up. It was the same with his heavy advertising. He would post big dollar signs, pictures of cash, and stats from previous big deals on page one of every Sport Collectors Digest, and later Beckett Sports Collectibles. But again, he backed it up. He would often fly out to take a look at collections – and that was news itself. If it was worthy, he would usually leave with it as well. More headlines.

Al was not afraid to confront customers. He was not afraid to put an offer out, but pull it back if the person took too long. It was very much like the pressure of Shark Tank. He would do whatever he had to do to get the deal. If that meant breaking you down, minimizing the competition or burning a bridge, nothing seemed to faze him. He wasn’t known to pal around with many in the industry, but he did have his friends. One of those was Beckett Authentication Services’ Steve Grad.

“He was a pretty interesting guy,” Grad says. “He’d seen just about everything in our business. He’d been all over buying stuff and he had a pretty cool perspective. Did he know everything? No way. He wasn’t really good with autographs and authenticity, or if a card had been altered, but he knew how to buy collections.”

Indeed he did.

He grew to become such a force in the hobby, shows would offer him a table or booth for free because they knew he would bring in sellers. He required it to be the best, front position at the show. Whether that be a local show or The National Sports Collectors Convention, you would never see him unless it was front and center as you walked in. If you were carrying a bag, you were sure to hear, “Got anything in there to sell?” No deals would get past him, including no less than nine different T-206 Honus Wagner tobacco cards. He may have been best known for two things: (1) The 1952 Topps Find in Quincy, Mass., in 1986 that yielded more than 40 high-number Mickey Mantle cards, and (2) Likely being the first person to appear on a national TV show, Good Morning America, talking about cards.

He was also the first to have a multi-page article written about him in Sports Illustrated. It’s quite likely he was the first card dealer to have a promotional Photo-Ball, a Plush Beanie, and a bobble-head made of himself! Oh, and of course, he did write a book about his own success as well. No question he was a great self-promoter and great marketer. He ran in the same circles as Barry Halper, Reggie Jackson, and even an East Coast developer named Donald Trump. He was simply this hobby’s greatest source for cash, if you needed to sell.

Mr Mint Ball

Another Rosen friend was Adam Martin of DA Card World in Buffalo. In the latter part of Alan’s career, Dave Silver and Adam rose to become a force in modern card buying. Autographs and memorabilia cards were their specialty. Seeing that wasn’t Rosen’s wheelhouse, a relationship was born. They would travel to shows together, often splitting the booth. Rosen would get the vintage opportunities, Adam would take the modern.

“Traveling with Alan I learned a lot,” Martin says. “Some of what to do, and some of what not to do. But regardless of his rough edges, Al was a hobby legend and first-ballot hobby Hall of Famer.”

Added Grad, “[Al was a] good guy, but tended to alienate most people by his harsh attitude. But he was a good guy underneath all that harshness.”

One thing most veterans of the sports card industry agree on is that Rosen helped promote the hobby as a viable means of opportunity. If you did not know him, his website, MrMint.com, is an interesting look into his life and the glory days of the hobby. Rest well Mr. Mint, you truly were “a buying machine.”

Rosen Bobble

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17 comments

  1. Mark 26 January, 2017 at 23:17

    RIP. Alan. You were always good for the hobby. And when I would see you at a show, I knew I was at THE show for that weekend!

  2. Dan Wright 27 January, 2017 at 10:27

    The year was 1986 and Mr.Mint was at a Schenectady,NY
    show featuring Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford.The show
    was crazy busy and buzzing,the collecting hobby was at its peak and I had the good fortune of setting up as a dealer
    next to the infamous Alan Rosen “Mr.Mint”.Yes,the $100 bills
    were in full force and he got plenty of attention as you can
    imagine.I had a big collection of “Baseball Bucks” that he
    ultimately bought from me.I was with my impressionable
    11 year old son at this show,and yes 30+ years later we
    still talk and reminisce about our 6 hour encounter with
    the collecting legend! Good times!

  3. David D. 27 January, 2017 at 12:54

    WOW! So sad to hear of Mr. Mint’s passing. I remember going to a National show in Anaheim, California and there was “Mr. Mint” front and center, as I walked in… He asked what I was holding, and I shared with him my white lettered 1969 Topps Mickey Mantle card. He began salivating, as only “Mr. Mint” could do, and before I left his booth, I was one thousand dollars richer…rest in peace, Alan!

  4. Mike Cohen 1 February, 2017 at 17:59

    Whenever you spoke with Alan, you could tell he was a true gentleman. Never pulled any punches and treated you the same. as if he he was a common man. Very sorry to hear Alan won’t be seen here any longer, but I’m sure he’s working some great deals with God. R.I.P. Alan. God bless you.

  5. Joe Ruocco 4 February, 2017 at 17:41

    I remember going to Al’ s apartment in Paterson, New Jersey in the early 1980′. He would have his kitchen table stacked with unopened boxes from 1960 leaf, 1960 topps , 1959 topps , 1964 topps giants , plus multiple other issues. Absolutely amazing . It took 20 minutes tto decide what to get. He always had the merchandise. I will miss his style and personality. RIP Al.

  6. Bob Rushkewicz 5 February, 2017 at 12:46

    This is the best-written eulogy I have ever read. Really sums up the persona of Rosen, both the good and the not-so-good. The man truly made an impact on the hobby. I can still see Rosen’s face at the front row booth in Rosemont. Great analogy to Shark Tank. Mr. Sliepka, you should be a political writer. With insight like yours, maybe we could cut through all the trash and devisive comments emanating from both sides. Great job!

  7. Bob Nardone 6 February, 2017 at 14:14

    I met him at a Phila sports card show about 15 years ago and he readily bought all 16 original 1949 baseball team pennants from me – he had never seen anything like them – they were clean and sharp with no pinholes….his “case of money” was tied to his wrist as he opened it and slapped out his offer of $100 bills. Quite a guy. I talked to him about a year and a half ago…he remembered the pennants (maybe not me so much)..but he was coughing and said he hadn’t been feeling to well. So sorry to hear of his passing. He was great for the hobby….and I too am 70.

  8. Steve Pemper 9 February, 2017 at 15:20

    Alan was a good friend. We had some great times together. All those shows in the 80’s, the restaurants, baseball games, race track visits were so enjoyable.Oh I must add, when he came to Milwaukee, we played basketball, and he could shoot. He nailed like 8 jumpers in a row on a hoop in an alley next to my shop at the time. I stayed with ALan for a week in the summer of 1986 at his house in New Jersey and we visited the famous Barry Halper and saw his awesome collection. God’s peace to his family, wife- Marni, son-Blake, and daughter-Jenny.

  9. Tony Lijoi 19 February, 2017 at 17:50

    Alan was a true hobby guy that got things goings back in the day.My late son and I had the pleasure of seeing him for the first time in action at the Philly Show at Willow Grove in 1988.
    He was definitely one of a kind.No one will ever shine his shoes.
    RIP MR MINT!

  10. Brock Hildreth 24 February, 2017 at 11:48

    A few years ago I remember reading an article about Mr. Mint when I was looking to complete a 1952 Topps set ( still working on it, with the insane price Mantle is starting to bring it may just be a pipe dream at this point). The article said he was a dealer who was not afraid to give out his personal cell# to anyone because he never wanted to miss a deal. I put the # in my phone and forgot about it until one day I was in a friendly argument with another collector that was trying to convince me the famous 1952 Topps find by Mr. Mint was a case of cello packs and not wax. Looking on the internet and finding no answers I remembered his number. It was a long shot he would actually answer I thought and if he did he would surely hang up. To my surprise he answered in his strong NJ accent and when I asked him to settle an argument he did saying ” tell your buddy I personally call him an idiot, there is no such thing as a 1952 Topps cello pack. But I am buying, what you got to sell?” what a great guy. he will be missed but never forgotten buy anyone in the hobby. RIP

  11. Samuel Singh 17 March, 2017 at 12:51

    I never forget when I met him in the early 80’s at a card show in Bay Ridge,Brookyn at the Amercian Legion Hall we talked about cards for hours as collectors,fans and considered friends ..May you R.I.P. Mr.Mint..If anyone else whose is qualified in picking up where Mr.Mint left off please contact me at sssingh824@gmail.com I was in contact with him about going through my cards last August and I understand why I never heard back..Akmen.

  12. Donald Gaudiomonte 22 May, 2017 at 10:04

    I just discovered Alan”s passing and am very saddened by it I knew Alan when he was selling copy machines.. He was a patient of mine for many years and always came to me for vision care. We talked often after I move to NC in 2005 and just had spoke to him in November 2016 He never mentioned his illness. His tough persona was not as thick as many believed. He was a generous, kind and sincere man and will be missed by many

  13. Bryan 15 January, 2018 at 15:11

    He came to my house in New jersey in early 90’s. I had a complete set run of Topps from 1952-59. All collected from when I was a kid. He bought everything ….cash out of his brief case. I also had some crap cards with creasing and writing on them set out on my coffee table and I said would you buy these too? He took out another 5 $100 bills and said too me ” Take the $500 and keep them, I can’t sell them !”…………true story!

  14. Robert L. Harrison 18 March, 2018 at 18:21

    I met Mr. Mint early on in the hobby. He was aware that I wrote baseball poetry and asked me to write hobby poems for him. So my only request was just don’t use my name. He never did and paid in cash by mail every time.
    He liked this one-
    “Have you found your old shoebox?
    Hidden for all these years?
    The one that held your treasures,
    that brought your eyes to tears?
    Did you ever think of selling
    these memories from your past.
    if you do, just remember:
    I always pay in cash.

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