TCMA founder Michael Aronstein was selected as the winner of the inaugural Jefferson Burdick Award, which honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the baseball card hobby, by SABR’s Baseball Cards Research Committee. He will be honored at the SABR 50 convention this summer in Baltimore.
Aronstein founded the influential TCMA baseball card comapny with Tom Collier in 1972 and was one of the pioneers of the modern baseball card industry, arranging and hosting early conventions and co-organizing the biannual American Sports Card Collectors Association shows in New York City. He was also the publisher of Collectors Quarterly magazine and one of the hobby’s first full-time dealers, providing collectors with alternatives to mainstream sets along with collecting supplies such as plastic sheets before they were widely available anywhere else. TCMA produced hundreds of historical and minor-league team sets and challenged the Topps monopoly as a distributor in the 1970s and ’80s. He was also the founder of Photo File, which supplied card dealers with high quality 8×10 photos to be signed by athletes.
“TCMA cards were a touchstone for many, if not all, of us as the only cards we could find/afford of baseball legends,” said SABR Baseball Cards Committee co-chair Nick Vossbrink. “In a way that no book can touch, TCMA cards taught kids about baseball: who the legends were and why, and what they looked like. If Topps is the card of record representing which players were relevant for the current season, TCMA were the cards of history and how we learned about baseball itself.”
The finalists for the 2020 Burdick Award are:
- Dr. James Beckett, whose publications such as the Sport Americana Baseball Card Price Guide and Beckett Monthly brought checklists and price guides to the mainstream
- Rob Fitts, author and historian who is best known in the hobby for his unmatched expertise and research in the area of Japanese baseball cards
- Mike Noren, the artist behind Gummy Arts and Cecil Cooperstown, whose cards are featured in the “Shoebox Treasures” exhibit at the Baseball Hall of Fame
- Keith Olbermann, whose contributions to the baseball card industry began while he was still in high school and who is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the hobby
Click here to learn more about each of the finalists at the SABR Baseball Cards Blog.
Jefferson R. Burdick (1900–63) was a pioneer card collector whose invented classifications still govern the hobby; he donated his enormous collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it remains one of the most popular destinations for researchers. He created The American Card Catalog, the bible of the hobby, and tribute is paid to his lifelong work whenever anyone brings up T-206 or N-162 or other codes common in card collecting. To learn more about his life and legacy, click here.
To learn more about the Burdick Award, click here.
Originally published: March 2, 2020. Last Updated: April 24, 2020.