NEW BREMEN — In Cincinnati Reds memorabilia circles, Jay McCollum has earned the nickname “The Wally Post Guy” for his extensive collection of items from the former Major League Baseball player and Mercer County resident.
But now the New Bremen resident is gaining a reputation as the “Bobblehead Guy” and not for the reasons you might think.
McCollum does not own hundreds of the popular bouncing head statues, instead he gained the new moniker for his custom made ones that range from Post to retired Cincinnati Reds play-by-play broadcaster Marty Brennaman and he is doing them to help raise money for specific charities.
McCollum admits he has owned bobbleheads due to stadium giveaways and specifically targeted days in which they were handing them out to maximize his trip down to Great American Ball Park but was not a collector.
“We would plan our games around bobblehead giveaways just because you are going to go to a game you can get something for it,” McCollum said. “To which most of the boxes to those blockheads are in my attic, I think, and the ones I still have are on the top of my baseball display case. I have some but not because I collect bobbleheads.
“I joke with my friend Ron and say if you would have told me I was a bobblehead guy I would have told you that you were off your rocker because I am as far away from that as you get. It’s not like I don’t like bobbleheads. I love them and I love the ones that I am doing or I wouldn’t be doing them but they take up too much space if you are going to do it right.”
The first one
It is no surprise that McCollum’s foray into the bobblehead world began with Post. With no official bobblehead of the St. Henry resident, he decided to see if he could get his own done.
McCollum decided to meet with his friend, whom he had met at Redsfest in 2008, about completing his Post bobblehead mission and began discussing it 2016.
“We were talking once about who’s the (Reds) Hall of Fame going to do for a bobblehead and so one of these years they are going to get Wally or it is going to be one of those situations with like Ted Kluszewski where the family didn’t want a bobblehead,” McCollum said. “He said ‘Don’think of it as a bobblehead but as a guy you personally collect for the family as long as they are OK with it.”
In 2017, McCollum contacted Kirk Stucke at the Mercer County Elks because that is where the Wally Post Open is held every year and asked if he had a contact with the family, knowing he needed family consent even before he could begin the process.
McCollum said the family was receptive to the idea and soon the real work began for him because having the idea and making a bobblehead is a long, drawn out process, especially if the individual wants to do it right.
In addition to the detailed work on the bobblehead, financing was also an issue. Anybody can make a custom bobblehead that ranges around $100 but if a person wants to mass produce a bobblehead that lowers the price.
McCollum then contacted Mark Fugate at the Sports Gallery in Forest Park who had done similar projects with Reds players and he gave him a contact at Forever Collectibles (aka FOCO) and he told him he needed to get consent, set up an account and he also gave him insight into the bobblehead costs. And since he was going to produce more than 700 he needed a way to finance the project.
“The biggest issue I had after getting consent was I had no way of paying for this and I have no way of knowing how to pay for this,” McCollum said.
In working with the Post family, and with all the proceeds going to the Cancer Association of Mercer County (CAMC) that puts helps put on the Wally Post Open, it was agreed that they would fund the endeavor.
With the financial backing, McCollum then came up with a design for the bobblehead and took on the meticulous step by step process of creating the statue itself.
“The Wally Post I put a lot of my personal collection into it,” McCollum said. “The pose is a team-issued photo that I have that I just love. The cleats are like my cleats. They are all painted black. The mold is from my cleats. It is a lot of work. “I’m pretty sure my rep at Forever Collectibles dreads seeing my name come up on his phone.”
Seven-hundred and twenty Post bobbleheads were created and were an instant hit, especially in Mercer County where McCollum estimated that 500 were bought by St. Henry residents.
The Wally Post bobblehead was a huge success finanacially as well and generated around $9,000 that went to the CAMC and McCollum thought that was the end of his days of bobblehead creating.
““It was great that the cancer association stepped up and funded the project. It allowed for the donation to be made. It was also nice to get to know the Post family,”
More bobblehead making
With that feather in his cap, McCollum was happy to have done this project and ready to move on.
In steps Darrel Chaney, who was a member of the 1975 world champion Reds and currently a motivational speaker based in Atlanta, earlier this year. Fellow collectors and Facebook collectors knew how well the Post project went and soon McCollum found himself back in a familiar role.
“I talked to him (Chaney) and called him on the phone and explained to him that all the proceeds would go to charity and it is a long process and him and the United Way can be in as much as they want or I can take it completely, it doesn’t matter to me one bit and then we decided to go with it,” McCollum said. “Everything is going to the United Way of White County in Georgia.
“We were able to get to the 216 minimum and 63 of those are going to be at the Darrell Chaney Invitational in August. David Shannon, who is in our Cincinnati Reds Memorabilia Collectors group owns Shannon Lamp Services in Lexington, Kentucky, and sponsored the purchase of those 63 and he is going to have a booth there where Darrell will sign them.”
Because of these two successful and gratifying projects, McCollum was wanting to do more and the next one to come up was Eddie Taubensee, who was a catcher for the Reds from 1994-2000, and is involved with the a number of charities.
McCollum through social media and friends got someone to have Taubensee contact him and he did.
“He (Taubensee) called me on my lunch hour the next day and one of the first things he said to me was I got a question, ‘what made you think of me.’” McCollum said. “I told him I was nine in 1990 and that season I was watching every game …. It is guys like him and the first team I really remember watching. I watched the ‘90 team but the ‘99 team I was 17-years-old and it was cool to just talk to him.”
With the two in agreement, a Taubensee bobblehead is in the works and the added bonus for the Taubensee bobblehead is that it will have a removable mask.
The Water Mission, a Christian based organization dedicated to bringing safe water and the word of God around the country is the charity that will benefit from the sale of the bobblehead.
McCollum added that there are about 60 bobbleheads are still available and if individuals are interested they can go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another of McCollum’s latest project hits closer to home. He has decided to produce a bobblehead of New Bremen resident Whitey Guese, a New Bremen resident who pitched for the Reds in 1901 and went 1-4. McCollum is working with the New Bremen Historical Association on this project.
The idea for the Guese bobblehead came from New Bremen athletic director Chad Wells who suggested it to McCollum.
“I really didn’t know if there would be any interest at all,” McCollum admitted. “And if there was any interest it would be here and a little splattering in our memorabilia group. Finding an image of him was hard. I chose the New Bremen Historic Association to receive the funds.
“We ended up with a 130 bobbleheads. and I think I have 10 on the waiting list so it is sold out as well. I figured most of the interest would be here and a smattering in the Reds group but it was just the opposite.”
The Brennaman bobblehead
With his reputation growing in this bobblehead building world, McCollum looked to tackle what might be considered his biggest project and that is working with longtime broadcaster Marty Brennenman
“Marty is the one we just announced and I am doing this one in conjunction with Lowell Bower,” McCollum said. “We are doing it for the Dragonfly Foundation and it is a pose from the night he got his head shaved so he is holding his hand up, he is smiling and has his head shaved. He has his shirt that says ‘I’m still me’ with the Dragonfly logo on the back.”
Brennaman shaved his head after the Reds won 10 straight and he did it in conjunction with raising money for the Reds Community fund and the The Dragonfly Foundation. The Dragonfly Foundation supports cancer pediatric patients and their families.
McCollum had a policy of not making bobbleheads that the Reds organization or the Reds Hall of Fame had already done but he saw a commercial for the Dragonfly foundation and opted in on the project.
“Lowell called Marty first and asked if he would be interested and then I talked to him to get consent and to the Dragonfly Foundation to get consent but this one is in the infancy stages which is good because we have a head start on them to get people to buy in,” McCollum said.
McCollum added that he talked to Amanda Brennaman, Marty’s wife, about Marty autographing 50 of them and selling for more to raise additional money for the charity. Those signed bobble heads have already sold out but there is still un-signed versions still available and if individuals are interested they can contact him at martybrennamandfbobble@gmail.
The Reds fan in him, McCollum admits that working with Marty Brennaman is a dream come true and said everyone involved has been cooperative throughout the process.
With all these projects in the works, McCollum is looking to work on some future projects but has not announced anything as of yet but has found being a bobblehead maker a labor of love.
McCollum will never call himself a bobblehead guy but admits this has been an exciting journey and not only is it fun but it also helps people in the long run.
“It has definitely been interesting,” McCollum said. “I enjoy doing this and since I can’t make large donations to charities but doing this I am able to help these charities.”
Reach Lima News sports editor Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.