Best Baseball Memorabilia (2000)

Charles Monfort

Monfort's passion for baseball has its roots in Cuba, his homeland. As a ten-year-old kid, he began collecting mementos from his favorite teams and players. Later he embraced America's baseball heroes as well. Today he can boast of a private collection he accurately refers to as his "mini-Cooperstown." Hanging on the walls of his Westchester home are autographed photos of each and every baseball hall-of-famer. Mounted on plaques are images of America's best players and obscure Cuban peloteros from the island's professional leagues of the Twenties, Thirties, and Forties, each emblazoned with the player's name, the seasons he played, and his achievements -- from the incomparable Sandy Koufax to that master of versatility Martin Dihigo, the only Cuban inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame. Monfort's collection is a multiethnic treasure trove of rarities, some of which still are boxed up in his closet. He owns a 1932 photo of a young Joe DiMaggio eating spaghetti at the kitchen table, and the wedding portrait of famed Cuban baseball manager Adolfo Luque. In Miami baseball circles, the 70-year-old Monfort is considered both wise man and historian. He says he's just a fan. Although he does lend items to special exhibitions, Monfort's collection remains private, for the time being. Maybe someday we'll have a Cooperstown by the bay.


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