If you’re a big fan of a sports team, there is a good chance you own a bobblehead of a player or mascot. The dolls with bobbing heads that people gather are often given out as promotions to fans attending baseball games, and some people make a hobby out of getting each and every one.
But for one baseball fanatic, his beloved collection led to something more—a miracle for a fellow fan and new friend.
Bryan Schmuck, from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is a huge fan of the Kansas City Royals. While he likes the players on the field, he loves the ones on his shelf even more: Schmuck owns about 500 bobbleheads.
“I’ve always been a collector at heart, and came across bobbleheads and just thought they were neat,” he told the Kansas City Star.
The 42-year-old father-of-five has been collecting his team’s bobbleheads since they started giving them out in 2002. In addition to the dolls, he has a piece of artificial turf from one of the team’s 1980 World Series games.
He doesn’t keep his passionate hobby to himself: he’s passed down a love of collecting to his children, and even brought up his bobbleheads to his wife on their first date. For him, the knickknacks have always been a way of connecting with others.
However he didn’t know the difference the bobbleheads could make in someone’s life until he crossed paths with a stranger.
A New Friend
On January 26, Schmuck attended Royals Fanfest with three of his children. Arriving early in the morning, he met a fellow fan who had driven from Iowa and gotten there at 6:30 am. The man was 30-year-old Mike Comstock, and the two fans hit it off over their shared interests.
“We became best friends, like brothers, almost instantly,” Comstock said. “He collects bobbleheads and I’m really into Royals sports memorabilia.”
After spending much of the FanFest together, the men kept in touch, exchanging memorabilia—but Comstock admits Schmuck has the more enviable collection.
“I own like 10 or 12 different ones,” Comstock said. “His knocks mine out of the park!”
After months of bonding, Schmuck discovered some heartbreaking news about his friend: he was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.
When Schmuck realized Comstock was having financial difficulties, he stepped up to the plate.
“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,” Schmuck said. Comstock is divorced but has an 8-year-old daughter who spends the summers with him, attending Royals games.
Hope Through Bobbleheads
Schmuck came up with a plan—and it involved his bobblehead collection. On June 18, Schmuck reached out to a Royals bobblehead collector Facebook group he moderates, announcing a fundraiser drawing for Comstock.
For $3, members could enter for a chance to win a rare collectable bobblehead. Many were from his own shelves, but other members of the group offered to donate theirs to the cause.
He set a goal of 200 fundraising slots and more than doubled that with 502, raising $1,350.
Comstock started chemotherapy on June 28, and thanked his fellow baseball fans for rallying to his side in his time of need.
“It took a big weight off my shoulders,” Comstock said. “After what Bryan did, I still cannot thank the bobblehead community enough.”
And for Schmuck, it was a perfect way to give back, using his favorite hobby to make a difference in someone’s life.
“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.”