For more great baseball stories like this one, 'like' us on Facebook -

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Sluggers Sports Memorabilia opened across Toronto; Its owner later became central to 'Jack of All Trades' doc

Toronto Sunday Star collecting columnist Ross Skoggard took a question in early 1991 about some old hockey cards and turned to Jack Eisenstein for the answer - both the good news and bad.

"The bad news," Skoggard wrote, "is you 'should have sold them five years ago,' says Jack (Eisenstein) of Sluggers sports memorabilia store. Collectible markets have a life cycle."

Eisenstein would know that first hand. His Sluggers stores sported at least five Toronto-area locations by mid 1990 and eventually a total of 11. Eisenstein's own life cycle - over multiple topics - meant he'd be out of the business completely by the end of 1991.

The entire rise and fall of the sports card collectables market - and the turmoil it would cause Sluggers, Eisenstein and his family - would eventually be the subject of a 2018 documentary put together by Eisenstein's son, Stuart Stone.

That documentary, Jack of All Trades, was released in 2018 and chronicled Stone's look back at the baseball card business and his family, including finding his father.

Sluggers itself began in 1987, with one store in Thornhill, Ont., on the north side of Toronto. From there, Eisenstein added at least four others around the Toronto area, one each in Toronto, Kanata, Cobourg and Markham.

By 1990, Sluggers was sponsoring memorabilia directly, at least on the minor league front, south of Toronto, in Hamilton. 

Sluggers sponsored both the 1990 Hamilton Redbirds Best set and the 1990 Hamilton Redbirds star set. 

Both sets came out around the same time, but the Best set, with ads on the back of nearly every card, described four Sluggers stores, while the Star set, with a full sponsor card but no individual card ads, described five stores.

But, by 1991, he was out of the business, wrote in 2018. The occasion for Beckett's article was the opening of Stone's documentary, "Jack of All Trades."

The documentary's trailer goes through the baseball card business, then turns inward. "All of a sudden, one day, we just got told he was getting out of the business," Stone says in the trailer, as another person ads that Eisenstein was "convinced something was happening."

The trailer then veers inward even more - "This journey started with me trying to find out like what happened to those cards. Now it's kind of like turned into I'm like trying to find him," Stone says.

In a review of the movie, The Canadian Jewish News wrote of the documentary "This tear-jerker should be required viewing for any baseball fan." 

The Jewish News also touched on the central themes of the movie, including Stone's father and his departure from Sluggers, and his family. 

"Jack Of All Trades first seeks to figure out why baseball card collecting became a thing of the past and why cards that everyone said would be worth so much became worthless," The Jewish News wrote. "Then it tries to answer a much tougher question: why did Stone’s father, who was seemingly on top of the world, with money, great children and a great wife, suddenly sell his baseball card stores, disappear without a trace and not stay in touch?"

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,799
Made the Majors:1,282-33.8%
Never Made Majors:2,517-66.2%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:526
10+ Seasons in the Minors:317

No comments:

Post a Comment