Michael Osacky’s interest in sports memorabilia began in 1997 when he was a teenager and his grandfather presented him with a shoebox of vintage baseball cards.

“Those cards not only made me want to find more of them, but they also got me interested in their value,” he said. “I wanted to learn why one card was worth $1 while another was worth $10 or $100.”

Over the next two decades, Osacky parleyed the hobby of his youth into a career as a well-known sports memorabilia collector and appraiser. Forbes Magazine senior contributor David Seideman acknowledged the Chicago-based appraiser’s expertise by naming him the dean of Cracker Jack baseball card historians in an Aug. 17, 2017, article.

Osacky will share his knowledge of sports memorabilia and its value with local enthusiasts during his visit to Pekin Friday. He is coming to the area in response to requests from area residents to appraise their various collections of baseball cards, autographs and other vintage momentos. 

“The cards are from the early 1900s, so there will be some tobacco cards in there and some candy and gum cards,” said Osacky. “There should be some interesting stuff in the collections I’ll be looking at.”

Osacky anticipates reviewing between 1,000 and 2,000 items during his visit to Pekin. He has made appointments with local collectors and will review their items at their residences. He added that he will offer free verbal appraisals to area residents wishing to find out what their souvenirs are worth. To schedule a verbal appraisal, contact Osacky at 312-379-9090 or by email at Michael@baseballintheattic.com.

“Whenever someone from across the country finds old Cracker Jack baseball cards, I’m always the first person they call,” Osacky said. “Cracker Jack cards were only inserted into packages for two years: in 1914 and 1915. Today, they are the most valuable prizes ever inserted into packages of Cracker Jacks.”

The most valuable collection Osacky has ever reviewed was a complete set of 176 1915 Cracker Jack baseball cards. He appraised the collection at between $80,000 and $85,000.