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The professor’s room

An occasional series that gets within the inner sanctums of academia – because clever people have interesting rooms.

By Mark Cox

March 9, 2017

Darren Duber-Smith

Surrounded by an incredible collection of sports memorabilia, senior marketing lecturer Darrin Duber-Smith always feels like a winner.

1. "Dumb Trojan" statue

The college football rivalry between the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins was fierce in the late ’60s, and my mom and a family friend were on opposite sides of the divide. After one particularly brutal Bruins victory, my mom’s friend made this “dumb Trojan” statuette and presented it to her. They handed it back and forth in subsequent years, depending on which team won. Finally, when I was four, they got bored of this game and gave me the statue. I’ve had it ever since.

2. Baseball bat and glove

This bat is from the 1800s and the glove is certainly pre-Depression. I bought the bat in Georgetown, Colorado, and it came from one of the mining camps in the area. Back in the day, baseball was very popular with miners, and many camps had their own teams. They used to mill down a plank of wood and play with it, so this one is pretty well made.

3. Sports cards

There are around 3,000 signed sports cards (in alphabetical order, arranged by sport) in that cabinet, and I add to the collection all the time. I’ve been collecting since I was kid – though I stopped at age 19 because I was broke, then started again at 35 once I could afford it. These days I don’t have a car because I can’t afford both to both drive and collect, and the cards take priority. It’s one of the biggest collections in Colorado and has been on TV quite a lot. I suppose I’m in this for life now.

4. Shiva statue

Shiva is the Hindu god of many things, including music, movement, creation and destruction. Having spent 13 years as a performing musician – I was percussionist and singer in five different bands – something about this ancient deity always resonated with me. Also, the Grateful Dead were into Shiva in a big way, and I’m a massive Deadhead.

5. Wall Street Journal award

In 2014, I was named one of the 125 Most Influential Professors by the Wall Street Journal during its 125th anniversary. They presented me with this stipple (a picture created using lots of small dots, and popular in journalism circles), which was cool. Five years earlier, the same publication had given me a Distinguished Professor award. I like to say that means the second one wasn’t a fluke.

6. Signed baseball

I grew up in Los Angeles where our family had Dodgers season tickets, and we went to almost every home game from 1976-87. One Sunday, when I was nine, my dad’s friend – a private detective who was working for outfielder Reggie Smith – got me and my younger brother invited to the dugout. They gave me this ball, and I hung out for an hour with all the big stars, getting it signed by everyone. Besides Reggie, I met the legendary pitcher Fernando Valenzuela – and that was when Fernando-mania was spreading across America. It was a big thrill.

Calling all faculty members.

Do you have an interesting office – and would you like to feature it in our new series? Just email Mark Cox.

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