The Press Newspaper
Tom Critch is a collector.
It started about 30 years ago, and the memorabilia just keeps piling up.
"I went to all these games, and people throw that stuff away," said Critch, of East Toledo. "Then they try to get some of that stuff back and it's hard to get. Everybody asks me, 'What do you save all that stuff for?' I tell them if I have the program, I can go back and look at it.
"I look at the state tournament programs and try to see how long the coaches have been there. It's kind of like a fun job to do. It takes a while to do all that stuff, but it's just fun for me."
Critch, who turned 51 in May, graduated from Waite High School in 1977. He went to work at a lumber yard and got into landscaping. He has no children, and he's never been married.
"I'd like to find one who likes sports," Critch said of a potential mate.
Critch has been attending the boys state basketball tournament since 1975. He's been to football stadiums and basketball arenas all over the state and region, and he's always brought back more than just memories. He has been collecting high school and college sports programs and yearbooks for years.
"I saw a lot of (teams) play. The ones I couldn't see, I'd send for (the programs) and they send them back to you. Canton McKinley sends me a nice program every year. Once you see those teams play like that, you want to keep up with them."
Critch has football game programs from Waite dating back to 1926.
"This year I started collecting football and basketball state finals (programs) from Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois," Critch said. "I got a lot of favorite programs, like Massillon from 1946 when Paul Brown was the coach. I have one from Steubenville. I always liked watching them play. I always liked to watch Youngstown Cardinal Mooney."
Critch also has a keen memory when it comes to Ohio prep sports teams. He know the nicknames of every Northwest Ohio school, and many others around the state.
"I read a lot of books and kind of keep up with them," Critch said.
His home is filled with lots of other memorabilia and collectibles. He has model college football stadiums representing, among others, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Indiana, Michigan and Tennessee.
"I try to get them where I visit, except for Tennessee," Critch said. "We've been past there (Leyland Stadium) quite a few times, but every time we've gone past there we couldn't get in. I have models of Tiger Stadium, the new one and the old one. I have Fifth Third Field. The football ones are bigger than the baseball ones. They're about a foot wide. Some are a little bit bigger than others. I got them through the Danbury Mint."
Critch started accumulating stadium collectibles about 10 years ago. He keeps them in his living room.
Critch has an RC Cola soda can shrine in his basement. The cans feature baseball players from the 1970s and he has the entire set, including Pete Rose, Brooks Robinson, Tony Perez, Bert Campaneris, Bobby Bonds, Fred Lynn, Mark Belanger, Sal Bando, Luis Tiant and Carl Yastrzemski, to name a few.
Critch has worked as a yard man at Nordmann Roofing on Starr Avenue for the past five years. Although Critch's eyesight has been on the decline in recent years, he still shows up every day. Before he worked at Nordmann, Critch worked at the now-closed Starr Lumber Company for more than 20 years.
"I worked in the yard at Starr Lumber, loading wood and waiting on customers," Critch said. "It wasn't bad. The Nordmann guys are all real nice to me."
Co-worker Randy Kania has become good friends with Critch. Kania took Critch to his first ARCA race at Toledo Speedway on May 17, and Critch got his picture taken with several drivers.
"He's kind of magical," Kania said. "He seems to be in the right place at the right time. He's polite to a fault. The guys at Nordmann, we kind of took him under our wing. He trusts everybody. He has a knowledge of past coaches in football and basketball - he really loves basketball. He's been to state tournaments since who knows when. His dad used to take him all the time. He's done a lot in his life."
Critch has attended Owens Community College basketball games for the last couple years. And yes, he's holding on to those programs, too.
"You'd think more people would go out there," Critch said. "It's free to get in. People ask, 'Why do you go to all these high school games?' I tell them because you get to see our future stars."
"I have maybe a thousand," Critch said. "I've been to quite a few of them. I should look into how many schools I've been to. I'll have to do that some day.
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