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Everett 'Ev' Cope and how he struck gold with his decades-long MLB collectibles business

Posted at 3:39 PM, Oct 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-09 17:53:59-04

BOZEMAN — The month of October is one synonymous with the MLB playoffs in the sports world.

It's a month where legends of the game are made — and there's a legend of the sport in his own right that lives in Bozeman.

At his core, Everett 'Ev' Cope loves the game of baseball. His passion for the game, mixed with his immense knowledge of player's stats, resulted in his creation of collectible player plaques in the 1980s.

“It all came about, lots of these friendships from as a boy falling in love with baseball records, the numbers," he said. "And how important numbers were to the game, like no other sport.”

What started as an idea, then morphed into something tangible.

In 1975, he pitched his concept to Harmon Killebrew, who became enamored by the idea and encouraged Cope to go after it.

“When I showed him his record and my idea, he (Killebrew) said, “I think you got something," Cope recalled.

Ted Williams was another player early on that bought in to the idea, and like Killebrew, became a friend.

Cope has nearly five decades of memories with MLB greats, and one of his favorites came from when he first met "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived."

“After waiting 34 years to meet my hero, I said, 'Ted, did you know you hit seven home runs off the White Sox that year?”

“No,” Cope said Williams responded.

“I said, Six of them off of one pitcher."

"(Williams) starts throwing out names. I said, 'No.'

"And finally I told him it was Johnny Rigney, and (Williams) said, “The bleep you know.” (Williams) brought up that big old hand, and said yeah, he came up over the top, I could really follow him."

"So I could identify things like that,” Cope said.

Things being the amount of player and game statistics he has remembered and used over the course of his career.

It became a business, and as technology advanced so did the collectibles. The players appreciated the effort, the detail and the care of Cope’s work.

“And, it was a different time," Cope said. "You could deal with ball players one-on-one. Share your love of the game. Talk the same language in a way, and it wasn’t all about money at that time. There was still a lot of sentiment.”

And that's something that’s gotten lost as society has evolved — the sentimental value of it all.

“Yeah, I guess I’m a little worried about how we don’t see as much sentiment in it today," Cope said. "More and more I’m hearing about, it’s almost being treated like stock certificates.”

And for Cope, someone who created such valuable collectibles, found more worth in who collected them with throughout his life.

“I call it ‘Cope Luck,'" he smiled. "Baseball is the American Game. And it just fit, and these were heroes of that era. I think that helped the communications and understanding our sentiment about life, and baseball can be a lot like life.”