Expanding the bobblehead universe

By Dennis Minich

It seems the COVID restrictions are being lifted enough so that events, such as baseball games can once again be held in front of full stadiums. In the case of the Royals, it didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference because Monday night’s crowd was about the same as what had been attending with the limited capacity rules in place. They are, however, gearing up with promotions and giveaways to entice the fans back to the ballpark. This weekend the team will have two bobblehead giveaways.

I am not exactly sure how I got into the bobblehead collecting business. I actually got my first one as an adornment on my ninth-birthday cake. It was a simple, logo-less, bobbler wearing a white baseball uniform. I have hung onto him through the years because he brings back wonderful memories. Other than that one, I never had another bobblehead and actually never considered having another bobblehead. That was, until the year 2000 when the Royals first started giving the things away. Ironically, the first two they distributed are the most and least valuable they have produced. The first, Carlos Beltran, was supposed to be just 20,000, but it rained the day of the event, so another 15,000 were made, meaning there are nearly 35,000 Carlos Beltran nodders around. Their value is about the same as a pet rock. About the same time, the Royals gave away a Slugger-r-r bobblehead with a limited distribution. Since it went to kids, many never made it home, so now to the right buyer, those ceramic marvels can bring $300 to $350.

Picking up those two collectables set my son and I on a mission and I moved heaven and hell to get every bobblehead the team gave away. There were nights I went just to pick up the toy and left. There were times I had to skip out on other events, just to get to the game. Later, it became more of a challenge as the team got better and people realized these things were worth collecting. Up until 2014, I had every bobblehead the team ever produced. But after fighting off a crowd early that year, I made the decision it was no longer worth the effort. Now, if I get one great, if I don’t, oh well.

But the collection moved beyond the Royals. We picked up souvenir shakers at every ballpark we attended, so whether it’s a Yankee or a Marlin, if I was there, I got the bobblehead. Ironically, I even have a few with nothing to do with sports. In my office, I can sit and look at a paperboy hocking the daily edition, I guess it helps me remember what I am supposed to be doing. I also have a talking nodder of Jeff Dunham’s Peanut. His purple face and green hair help remind me I am supposed to have a sense of humor. I also have a replica Ferengi from Star Trek who basically reminds me that I am still a geek. At home I also have a Jayhawk football bobblehead, which as most everyone would agree, has absolutely no correlation to sports.

Collecting the things is only part of the chore. Once the collection surpasses 50 figures or so, you have to find a way to display the doggone things. Add to that most are not the easiest things to keep clean, so there is a degree of work involved with collecting. Finally, when you move every 30 years or so, they all have to be packed up and moved along. So now I face the dilemma: do I head out to get the latest additions to the collection? Fortunately, as if by divine message I saw the answer: I walked by my bobbleheads and all were nodding their heads yes. Who am I to argue?