He is currently the CEO of Beckett Interests Inc. of Dallas, Texas. He is the founder of Beckett Publications Inc., the world's largest sports and entertainment collectibles publisher, and served as its CEO from 1984 until selling the company for a reported $20 million in January 2005.
Beckett Publications' titles included Beckett Baseball, Beckett Basketball, Beckett Football, Beckett Hockey, Beckett Racing, Beckett Fantasy Sports Powered by Rotoworld.com, Neopets (The Official Magazine), Beckett Pokemon, Beckett Dragonball Z, Beckett Anime & Manga, Beckett Yu-Gi-Oh Unofficial Collector and a number of other titles. Jim has also authored more than 50 sports-related books, including numerous annual price guides in several collectible fields.
As a child, Jim lived in 18 houses in 18 years. His father was in the military and then a corporate CEO and it kept the family moving. He said of those years, “Moving a lot with new schools means you've got to be a quick study.” Jim also discovered that his hobby of collecting baseball cards was a great “socializer.”
After earning his Ph.D. in statistics from Southern Methodist University in 1975, he was a tenured associate professor of statistics at Bowling Green State University until 1980. Surrounded by so many baseball entities in the region, he said it was an immersive experience. Combining his great love of sports and math, he decided to publish a free price survey to the collector market in 1975. In 1979, he published a full-length book.
Living in Dallas in 1984, Jim then published Baseball Monthly magazine. It was such a success he left his other jobs to fully devote his time to Beckett Publications, Inc. Carl noted that he also launched his first magazine in 1984, Computer Language. Their paths and exit strategies were entirely different—Carl sold his magazine three years later, while Jim grew his company over 20 years into an empire. “I’m not really a serial entrepreneur”, he said. “I’m an opportunistic entrepreneur, I had many great ideas, but that one idea seemed to have legs on it and it sure seemed that I should be the guy to carry it forward.”
The company eventually expanded way beyond baseball cards, selling 2 million magazines a month. “I think I have the record for the greatest direct mail return, I had a 1,000%! I would send out 1,000 pieces of mail and get 10,000 orders,” Jim told us. Then while actively leading the company, Jim suffered a heart attack. It forced him into concentrating on his schedule and his health. He went into a more executive role with the company, which he didn't enjoy. “I’m a hands-on guy!” Soon he started thinking of selling.
In addition to running a successful company, Jim had started a pro-bono consulting business to help leaders and future leaders solve problems. He started having 200 meetings a year with different entities, often bringing in peers to help too. Jim’s love of problem solving has led to more than 5,000 meetings over the years. “It has been so fulfilling,” he added.
Now in (un)retirement, Jim is going strong with a daily (yes, daily!) podcast for the sports collector world. Turns out that in the pandemic, card collecting has had a dramatic resurgence. 2020 was the biggest year ever. “I get to have an impact on my industry and influence the influencers. I'm having a blast!”
Dr. James Beckett’s (un)retirement advice:
“I think people need to find some connection to a passion. It’s not I have to do this, it’s I get to do this. How great is that?”
“I was always a person to bring order out of the chaos……as I've grown older, I've realized you don't want to eliminate all the chaos. A little bit of chaos is the joie de vivre.”
“Leave the world a better place. Make a positive impact!”
Check out the Dr. James Beckett: Sports Card Insights podcast.
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the “I Used to Be Somebody” weekly blog.
Mike Krukow Interview: Winning Strategies for Life!
Diana Landau | November 09, 2020
The one-and-only Mike Krukow was a guest on the podcast this week. Carl is a HUGE San Francisco Giants fan and interviewing one of his personal heroes was a major thrill! Mike was not only a star pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and then the SF Giants, but after his playing days were over, he eventually found his way to broadcasting, becoming one half of one of the most famous sports broadcasting duos in the country.
Growing up in San Gabriel, California, Mike always wanted to be a baseball player. As a kid he was surrounded by baseball, becoming a batboy and playing in baseball games every single day, up and down his neighborhood street. “Kids talked about becoming blue collar or white collar workers when they grew up—I knew I wanted to be a ”no-collar” worker!” he laughed.
Carl asked Mike where he gets his positive energy. (You can even hear it through his broadcasts, one of the many reasons he’s so loved in SF.) Mike said his mother was a nurse who never had a bad day. “She had the ability to pump people up, to be open and always engaged in the conversation. Our house was always the house where all the kids in the neighborhood hung out. It’s about being either half-full or half-empty—it’s your choice how you want to look at things.”
Mike last played baseball in 1989. That year the SF Giants competed in the World Series with a motley crew of players that weren’t even predicted to make the playoffs. Carl noted that podcast guest Joan Ryan has a new book “Intangibles, Unlocking the Science and Soul of Team Chemistry” that was partly inspired by that team in 1989. “We loved each other. We all bought into the concept of giving all that we had for each other every day,” Mike agreed.
Mike had 3 surgeries on his shoulder and his pitching arm was shredded. So after that winning season, Manager Roger Craig offered Mike a position as a pitching coach. Traveling with the team, coaches often worked 12-hour days. Mike turned it down. He had 4 kids and his wife was pregnant with the fifth. At each point in his life when he pivoted to something new, Mike made family the priority. Instead of more baseball, he and a college friend opened a restaurant. “Perfect timing—the recession!” Mike joked.
He decided he had to learn about everything, from being a busboy, waiting tables, hosting, prep-cook, finance and more. Mike said it was an invigorating time—failure was on the doorstep every day. “I have an incredible amount of respect for the business owners who are willing to risk everything to run their business and create jobs for other people.”
Mike became a full time broadcaster in 1994. He’s known for his deep knowledge of the game and his tremendous humor, and is a 7-time Emmy Award winner. In 2014, Mike was diagnosed with IBM (inclusion body myositis) and although he does not travel with the team anymore, you can count on Mike and his partner Duane Kuiper broadcasting from the Oracle Park studios during the baseball season.
Mike’s advice will resonate with I Used to be Somebody listeners:
“Don’t EVER retire! What’s so wonderful about life is that there are so many new surprises; you just have to look for them. Go out and do something that is creative and fun. Go someplace where you can do it with other people. Don’t just be content with sitting on the couch. That’s where it all ends. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life, it’s that there are so many new, wonderful things to explore.”
It’s pretty evident that nothing is going to slow down Mike Krukow. He is living his moment!
For more info about Mike Krukow and how to donate to the Northern Nevada Children's Cancer Foundation, visit this website.
Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Pickleball Media. After 15 years in corporate marketing, in 2012 she pivoted to write and wrangle content for Niche Media's weekly blog. She now manages the I Used to Be Somebody weekly blog.