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Collector Has The Right Stuff For Gamecock-philes 
He has Carolina - Clemson programs going back to 1936, including one from the last Big Thursday game, played in 1959; a John Roche Denver Nuggets uniform; basketball jerseys worn by Sheila Foster and Martha Parker; autographed photos of Frank McGuire; football jerseys worn by Kevin Long, Clarence Williams, Harold Green and Robert Brooks; George Rogers' New Orleans Saints jersey; the shoes Todd Ellis was wearing when he was injured on the last play of his collegiate career; pennants; rings; helmets; you name it. 
 
"It's just a lot of stuff," said Michael N. Safran, '83, of his legendary Gamecock sports memorabilia collection, which he has been squirreling away over the past 14 years. The collection now contains so many items that he's at a loss to know exactly how many objects he has ("It's in the thousands") or even to describe every piece. Some time ago he started to inventory the collection, but is still listing it all after filling up 15 pages of computer print-outs. 
 
The Gamecock collectibles are actually one segment of an even larger group of memorabilia representing all men's and women's sports at colleges and universities throughout the Palmetto State. Safran began assembling the items as a sideline to operating The Collector's Collector, a mail order collectibles business which deals in pop culture items like sports memorabilia, movie posters, vintage toys, and the like. 
 
Safran, who received his bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from USC, figures collecting is in his genes. His father, the late Milton Safran, '48, who owned Safran's Antiques Galleries in Columbia, instilled in his second oldest son a business sense about antiques and collectibles and, perhaps more importantly, an appreciation of history. 
 
The idea for the sports collection was born in the early 1980's when Safran attended a sports card show with a friend. "I thought it was fun and interesting," he 
 
said, "but the cards didn't interest me much." Instead, he turned to sports autographs and then game used equipment, which ultimately led to championship sports rings for the Super Bowl, World Series, and college bowl games. The rings have since become one of his professional specialties. 
 
"I wanted to put together the best collection in the state of something that appealed to me" he said, "but I knew there were other people who were ahead of me as collectors. I began on a statewide scope, as well as on the University level. I started with jerseys and game equipment I found through catalogs and elsewhere, and over the years I've amased a pretty nice collection."

 
 
Safran takes pride in knowing that much of the memorabilia is reflective of the history of the University's sports program and on two occasions he has hosted what he calls Gamecock Galas in Columbia to let the public see it. The events also feature former standout athletes on hand to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. "It was fun to let people see that somebody was saving some of these things because nobody else was doing it," he said. 
 
 In that vein, Safran, who is a board member of the South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, would like to see the University open a sports museum where it would display trophies, retired jerseys, game balls, and other noteworthy items from Carolina's athletic past. Such a facility, he said, would honor USC's athletic heritage and promote the kind of pride that is part of every winning program. 
 
This story appeared in the University of South Carolina's Alumni Association newsletter REMEMBER on September 1997.