Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Long time card dealer Larry Fritsch passed away last weekend. Larry's collection is legendary, and most card collectors my age were influenced by him at some point through his ubiquitous ads, reprint and oddball sets or by simply purchasing some cards from him.

Larry Fritsch, 71, prominent Stevens Point businessman, died Saturday, Dec. 8, 2007, at the Aspirus Wausau Hospital with his loving family at his side, following a brief illness.

Larry was born Oct. 15, 1936, in Spencer. He was the son of the late Larry and Cecelia (Kotecki) Fritsch. He graduated from Spencer High School in 1954. He then attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science degree in history and political science. Larry was a train baggage man for the Soo Line Railroad from 1955 to 1965. He then worked for the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in Madison for a year doing tax research. He also worked for the Whiting Plover Paper Co. from 1966 to 1967, and then worked for CAP Agency until 1970.

On May 1, 1970, he established Larry Fritsch Cards, a mail order company selling baseball, sports cards and other related products. He was the first person in the world to sell sports cards on a full-time basis. As a result of his business, he has been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. He also appeared on many radio and television programs, including PM magazine and The Tomorrow Show. Larry was considered an expert on baseball/sports cards, their history and value. In 1987, he ventured out to Cooperstown, N.Y., to open a Baseball Card Museum. Because of distance and travel time, the museum closed in 1992. Larry continued to be involved in his business until the time of his death.

In addition to his business, Larry also found time to be involved with the Stevens Point Youth Baseball Association from 1967 until 1983 as a manager, coach, league vice president and board member. He also was a coach and board member with the Stevens Point American Legion Program from 1978 to 1990. Larry also did service work outside of sports. He was the town of Hull assessor from 1969 to 1973, served as town supervisor from 1973 to 1981 in addition to serving on the town of Hull planning and zoning committees. He was a charter member of the Portage County Landfill Committee, and served on the Board of Adjustments and Portage County Smart Growth Committee.

Larry was married to Ardy (Molle) Hendrickson on Feb. 8, 1958. The couple divorced in 1985. Larry enjoyed spending time with his family, baseball cards, collecting and operating model trains, doing jigsaw puzzles and reading. Larry loved trees and was also an avid Packers fan (his Uncle Ted Fritsch played on the team from 1942 to 1950) and a Cubs fan. In lieu of flowers, memorials are being established in his name for Stevens Point Youth Baseball Association, Youth Area Football, and the American Cancer Society.

Survivors include one son, Jeff (Sue) Fritsch, Stevens Point; one daughter, Jane (Jeff) Gavin, Stevens Point; dear friend and love, Janet Wolle, Stevens Point; two brothers, Donald Fritsch, Spencer and Raymond (Elizabeth) Fritsch, Galesville; six grandchildren, Jeremy Fritsch (UW-La Crosse), Jaycie Fritsch (UW-Oshkosh), and Allison Fritsch of Stevens Point, and Jesse, Jadee and Jakob Gavin all of Stevens Point; and several nieces and nephews; along with Janet's children, Jim (Nancy) Wolle, Marc (Melinda) Wolle, and Susan (Duane) Vandre; and Janet's four grandchildren, Michael and Kristine Wolle and Tyler and Justin Vandre. He was preceded in death by one sister, Priscilla Keene.

The funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Stephen's Catholic Church with the Rev. Dezaraj officiating. Burial will be at a later date. Family and friends may call from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Pisarski/Dzikoski Funeral home and from 9:30 a.m. until the time of Mass on Thursday at the church. A parish rosary will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Funeral Home. Online condolences can be made at

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