By TIM KELLY
Peggy Ferrari explained how she got into the sports memorabilia business with her husband, Frank.
“I was sneaking in shoes in a Macy’s bag. He was sneaking in this stuff,” she said, giggling.
It looks like memorabilia won out over shoes. There was Peggy on Saturday at the Ocean City Music Pier hawking autographed baseballs, mini-football helmets, pictures, and many other items of interest to collectors at the Sports Memorabilia Show sponsored by the Ocean City Free Public Library and the city.
Although scaled down considerably due to COVID-19 restrictions, almost everyone surveyed was happy to be out and about for the event.
“It’s great to be out enjoying this beautiful weather and seeing people enjoying themselves,” said Sue Fox, the Library’s Bookmobile driver, on hand with Assistant Librarian Anna Degand to run a book sale at the Music Pier’s entrance.
“I hope we’re starting to move back in the direction (of more normal times in the wake of COVID-19),” Fox added.
Kelly and Brian Geary said their businesses had been made busier by COVID-19, and they wanted to enjoy some down time to attend the show with sons Ian, 11, and Finn, 5.
“We wanted to come out as a family and spend some time together, said Kelly, a therapist, whose Healing in Hope practice in Linwood had been busy, as has Brian’s Tars and Stripes Asphalt Maintenance firm in Waterford Works.
“Ian has really been getting into collecting lately,” Kelly said, “and we thought it would be a good chance to get out together.”
Social distancing was strictly enforced at the event. Attendees were asked to have their temperatures taken at the entrance, and the number of dealers on hand was less than half of previous years’ shows.
Also absent this year because of COVID were the traditional autograph tables featuring local and national sports heroes. Nevertheless, a small but steady stream of visitors perused the dealer tables during the morning hours.
Despite the toned-down version of the show, attendees embraced it. So did the city, according to a statement.
“Ocean City is looking forward to the return of as many events as possible this year, while keeping health and safety as a top priority,” the city announced. “Look for further announcements on new and returning events throughout the year.”
Peggy Ferrari’s jokes about shoe purchases aside, Ferrari said she was attracted to the memorabilia show “because it’s a wholesome hobby, and you really meet some nice people.”
She spoke of last year’s baseball spring training, which was cancelled after most of the teams had already reported. Frank Ferrari, who attended the Phillies pre-season for years, where he’s garnered dozens of signatures for his sale items, had to call his wife to let her know he would be coming home early this time.
“I hadn’t heard anything on the news,” Peggy recalled, “and Frank said, (Phillies outfielder) ‘Andrew McCutchen just told me.’ Sure enough, he was right.”
Steven and Roger Westcoat of Vineland were at the show to try to investigate what their late brother Mark’s collection is worth, and also for a nice morning out.
“He had a pretty extensive collection of stuff, mostly basketball and baseball-related,” Roger Westcoat said. “We want to research what it’s really worth before we sell anything. He really enjoyed collecting.”