Lifestyles

O'BRIEN: Rooting for bobbleheads to get a hall of their own

Posted: Dec. 16, 2014 7:56 am Updated: Mar. 10, 2015 8:15 am

Something about the big, smiling guy with the wobbly head appealed to the 10-year-old me, so I badgered my parents into leaving the old County Stadium in Milwaukee Stadium with a Brewers bobblehead.

Amazingly, it's still in my possession and in pretty decent shape, too, for being made out of ceramic.

Although bobbleheads aren't exactly a passion, they've been a bit of a hobby. In my former life as a sports writer, I used to collect bobbleheads wherever my travels took me as a reminder of where I've been -- kind of like the first bobblehead I got in 1980. My collection includes a Georgia Bulldog, which I bought on my trips to Augusta, Ga., for the Masters, and a wild-haired Ben Wallace, which I bought at a Detroit Pistons game in 2004. The fighting Valparaiso Crusader is a trinket from a stop I made on the way to report on Quincy University's basketball team at Notre Dame.

Until recently, I had a bobblehead of "Obie," the Massillon (Ohio) High School Tigers mascot on my desk. I picked that up in 2003 when QU football used to regularly play games in Canton, Ohio, near the noted football factory of Massillon. Sadly, Obie is now in four pieces after falling off my desk a few months ago.

Bobbleheads.com says the dolls date back to 1842 when they were referenced in a children's story. The toy has been synonymous with sports for many years. Major League Baseball began marketing them for each team in 1960, but they fell out of favor in the 1970s before coming back to life in the late 1990s when they could be made out of plastic and mass produced. The San Francisco Giants are credited with being the team to bring the back the bobblehead when they had a Willie Mays bobblehead night in 1999.

For a while, it seemed like everyone had a bobblehead. How else can you explain a Cookie Rojas bobblehead that I picked up on my first trip to Kansas City's Kaufmann Stadium in 2007?

The popularity of the bobblehead may come and go, but there might soon be a place for people to look at many of the unique bobbleheads produced over the years. Phil Sklar of Milwaukee hopes to open the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in his hometown in 2016. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the museum. He's seeking $250,000 to open the place. He has just over 10 percent of what he needs with one month to go in his campaign, which can be found at kickstarter.com or at the museum's website at bobbleheadhall.com.

Halls of Fame are wonderful things. One day I hope to get lost in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., are both good spots to stop if you're in those areas.

A Bobblehead Hall of Fame would be a great tourist trap and will pay homage to the history of the toy.

That sounds like a great road trip and a chance for me to bring back another cool bobblehead.

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