Bobbleheads! One local man's collection will make your head spin
By Amelia Blades Steward
John Evans, wearing an original Washington Senators jersey shares the bobblehead replicas of WIlliam “Refrigerator” Perry and Fran Tarkenton.
When their heads bobble, they make us smile. Chinese nodding-head figures were documented in England and Continental Europe as early as the 1770s. Some believe that bobbleheads may have been popular in temples in Asia much earlier than that. While baseball and football figures were the most popular among collectors in the beginning, now collectors are drawn to bobbleheads of minor league team players, presidents, and celebrities. The latest trend in bobbleheads is gnomes. John Evans of Easton developed a passion for sports bobbleheads at an early age. That passion led to his collection of more than 525 figures that adorn his home today, along with a million baseball cards.
When did you start collecting?
In 1966, at the age of 12, I acquired my first ceramic bobblehead when I was attending a Redskins football game with my father. My father took me regularly to baseball and football games in suburban D.C. where we lived. I was partial to the teams there.
What made you start your collection?
It’s the whimsy of the figures and the fun of looking at their heads bobble that makes me smile. As I became an adult, my journalism career helped to feed the passion behind my collection. As a sportswriter and photographer, I got to cover games and collect the bobbleheads of players I saw play. I even got a bobblehead made of myself and gave it to my wife Linda so she wouldn’t miss me while I was away covering games.
What are your favorite things in your collection?
My collection of sports bobbleheads includes baseball, football, basketball, golf, and Nascar figures, as well as women’s sports figures. My favorite bobbleheads are figures of William “Refrigerator” Perry, who has a refrigerator next to him on the bobblehead, and Joe Namath, as well as Jenny Finch, USA softball player. I also have nearly every Oriole bobb
lehead ever produced.
What was your first piece?
My first bobblehead was a generic figure of the Washington Redskins team. Among sports bobbleheads, team mascots were often the first to be collected. Bobbleheads of individual players did not come about until the 1960s.
What are you still collecting?
I don’t think about resale as much as about what I like. I usually collect for the team and the novelty of the bobblehead. I still enjoy figures with unusual poses, that move or talk, or that are caricatures of people.
What are you doing with your collection?
Now that I am retired, my collection helps me stay in touch with the game and its history. I love the game and sports bobbleheads are part of the game. I guess it’s worth what anyone wants to pay for it, but I imagine I will keep the collection for a while longer.