Lining the homemade shelves of Bryan Schmuck’s Lee’s Summit basement are roughly 500 Kansas City Royals bobbleheads and countless sports memorabilia. Schmuck recently gave a tour of his collection with some of his children.
“Hey Pax! Pax! Which is your favorite one, Pax?” Schmuck asks his 4-year-old son Paxton.
Pax grins and points to the Royals Slugger bobblehead that stands 3 feet tall. Only 25 were made. One was once listed at more than $1,200 on eBay.
“How about you, Pais?” Schmuck asked his daughter.
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The 6-year-old scurries to the far side of room and says “the blue one by Hulk.”
That would be the Royals Captain America Bobblehead from Marvel Super Hero Day at The K, listed around $45 on eBay.
The 42-year-old Schmuck, a father of five, owns every bobblehead given out at Royals baseball games since the team started the tradition in 2002.
His other memorabilia include a 6-by-6-foot piece of artificial turf from one of the six 1980 World Series baseball games. He got the piece from legendary Kansas City Royals groundskeeper George Toma.
About a month ago, Schmuck became a Facebook moderator of “KC Royals Bobblehead & Figurine-trade.sell.” Through this group, he says he’s been able to meet up with other bobblehead fanatics at Royals games.
His hobby is such a part of him that he mentioned it on his first date with his wife, Kristin.
“On our first date Bryan asked whether or not I collected anything,” she recalled. “Initially I thought that was an odd question, but now I understand why he asked.”
His kids are in on it, too, often accompanying him to bobblehead giveaway games or Fanfest.
“My dad was the one who got me into collecting,” said 22-year-old Hayley. “Whenever me or my siblings go to giveaway nights, he gives us some of his extra bobbleheads.”
This January, Schmuck’s passion led him to a special kinship with a Royals fan living in Iowa.
A season ticket holder, Schmuck arrived at Royals Fanfest at Bartle Hall on Jan. 26 at 7 a.m. — five hours before its noon start. He had his three oldest kids with him.
Though he’s usually the first to arrive for Fanfest, he wasn’t this time. Ahead of him was Mike Comstock, who’d driven from his Iowa home the night before, slept in his van so he didn’t have to pay for a hotel room, and claimed his spot in line at 6:30 a.m.
They started talking and Comstock spent both days of FanFest with Schmuck getting autographs. Comstock, 30, said that by the end of the weekend, he felt he shared a close bond with Schmuck.
“We became best friends, like brothers, almost instantly,” Comstock said. “He collects bobbleheads and I’m really into Royals sports memorabilia. Through our collections I’ve been able to get him rare bobbleheads from Storm Chaser minor league games and he’s given me Royals bobbleheads.”
Comstock said his collection is not nearly as large as Schmuck’s.
“I own like 10 or 12 different ones,” Comstock said. “His knocks mine out of the park!”
Over the past six months, Schmuck and Comstock kept in touch. About a month ago, Schmuck saw on Facebook that Comstock was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.
“In May Mike directly messaged me on Facebook asking for some money to help pay for gas,” Schmuck said. “I know he’s got a daughter that he’s trying to take care of, so I was thinking about what I could do to help.”
Comstock is divorced. He and his daughter Hailey, 8, spend summers together.
“The summer is when she comes to Royals games with me,” Comstock said. “It’s the best time. We have a lot of fun.”
After Comstock asked Schmuck for gas money, Schmuck said he later asked more about his treatments.
On Monday, June 18, Schmuck launched a fundraiser for Comstock on Facebook. For $3, a participant could receive a slot in a drawing for rare, donated bobbleheads. Schmuck’s goal was to sell at least 200 prize drawing slots.
After five days, the fundraiser sold 502 slots and Schmuck received so many bobblehead donations that he turned down offers.
In all, Schmuck raised $1,350 for Comstock.
Brian Burger paid for 16 fundraiser slots and also donated bobbleheads for the drawing.
“It’s the first time I’d ever seen something like that. What he was asking for was a good cause, and I’d want someone to do the same for me,” Burger said.
Comstock said he can’t believe so many people were willing to help him.
“It took a big weight off my shoulders,” he said. “After what Bryan did, I still cannot thank the bobblehead community enough.”
Comstock started his chemotherapy on June 28.
Schmuck said even through bobbleheads, people can give back.
“People may think bobbleheads are weird but everyone has their thing,” Schmuck said. “You never know how you can help someone who may need it most.”