Tracy Hackler's National Notebook
Aug 2 2008 9:41PM
By Tracy Hackler
One word for anyone who hasn't seen the once-in-a-lifetime pull that took place Friday from an ITG Superlative case: Wow!.
Glad to Hear It
I'm as guilty as anyone at Beckett of letting the vocal minority skew my perception of how we're doing out there. It's human nature, I think, for those who dislike something to speak out against it, while those who enjoy it usually do so in relative obscurity. But after spending three days immersed in our customers, here's what I can tell you:
* Our Box Busters videos might just be the most popular thing we do on a regular basis. For every one or two of you out there who insist we shouldn't do them (which is simply an absurd suggestion), there's hundreds more who watch – and enjoy – every episode (and they told us as much at the National).
* Beckett Sports Card Monthly might not be for everyone, but there is a healthy contingent out there that likes what we've done with the content mix. Of course, to be fair, there are also those who can't transition to the single-sport title of their choice fast enough.
* Our new Web site, which launches Monday, is one of the most anticipated Web developments we've seen in these parts since the Blair Witch phenomenon.
Friday Night Lights
Speaking of Web developments, kudos to everyone on our Web commerce team who impeccably planned and executed a well-received event on Friday evening for some of our Marketplace and Gold Label dealers. Hobby veteran and ambassador Rob Veres served impressively as guest speaker, walking his fellow businesspeople through the considerable merits of the new Beckett Channel Integrator and otherwise injecting them with his trademark infectious optimism for sports cards.
Donruss added a collectible flair to the event by providing limited-edition 2008 Threads cards of four of the top NFL rookies (Darren McFadden, Matt Ryan, Felix Jones and Jonathan Stewart) and some autographed 8-by-10 photos.
It's a Card World, We're Just Living In It
As usual, Dave and Adam's Card World operated one of the biggest, most trafficked booths in the building with an unparalleled presentation of wax the likes of which you see once a year – at this show from Dave and Adam's. The Beckett camera crew got some face time with Adam Martin and sequestered a box of 2007-08 SPx Basketball with which to conduct a walking video Box Busters. Would you believe us if we told you that an avid Box Busters viewer – picked totally at random – pulled one of the best cards in the product? Stay tuned to the video in the coming days.
Brian Gray continues to cut his way into the minds of collectors, while raising the eyebrows and ire of fellow manufacturers. As if continuing to sign some of the top baseball draft picks in the country wasn't enough, his announcement at the show that he would later this year produce the most expensive trading card product ever made ($1,500 for one presidential cut auto or dual auto) has people talking. Stay tuned to this situation, though. Sparks are virtually guaranteed.
Press Pass' Garbage
How successful was the Press Pass redemption program at the show? Company officials filled up eight industrial-sized trash bags with wrappers – on Thursday alone. The company's new Press Pass Legends football product, one of the biggest success stories of the early football card season, was a key culprit.
Da Coach, Da Man
Just before he began signing for the assembled masses at the Donruss booth, I had the great opportunity to spend a few minutes interviewing Chicago legend and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Ditka on Friday morning. True to what you'd expect, Ditka is a no-nonsense guy a tremendous personality and nary a hint of superstar attitude. Most of his collection is housed at his downtown Chicago restaurant. The other stuff he keeps locked up for his younger grandchildren. The real highlight for me aside from shaking his hand? Getting to hold and examine his ArenaBowl XX championship ring.
Everything New is New Again
Perhaps it was just me, but it sure seemed that for the first time in a long time there was as much current stuff on the floor as there was vintage material. Just a random observation.
A Fish in Water
When they weren't conducting well-received box wars contests, Thomas Fish and Blowout Cards kept mounds of new wax moving throughout the show. They also made waves by offering cases of 2006 Upper Deck Football (limit one per customer) for less than $60. The Beckett crew also secured a box of 2008 UD Goudey Baseball and walked the floor doing a video box buster. It's worth noting that Blowout Cards – through an ad in the next BSCM – is offering $10,000 cash to the person who pulls the Tiger Woods autograph from Goudey.
Excuse Me, Mr. Big Sexy
Although I refused the urge to address him as "Mr. Big Sexy," TNA wrestling superstar Kevin Nash was a great interview nonetheless. He spoke at length about his collection of autographed 500 Home Run Club baseballs, his newest inscriptions in the TRISTAR Impact TNA product and why his son doesn't collect – all while conducting a free autograph signing courtesy of TRISTAR.
Three Beckett Guys, 20 Whales & Ivy-Covered Walls
Al Muir, Eric Jahnke and Brad Hastedt accompanied Upper Deck and 20 members of their exclusive Platinum Club to a VIP event at Wrigley Field on Friday. Get more details here.
Desperately Seeking Henderson
Big ups to friend, veteran collector and Beckett contributor Ryan Schear, who directly attributed the staggering lack of key 2008 Allen & Ginter inserts on the floor to the absence of a Topps' corporate booth. No booth means no wrapper redemption, which in turn means less product gets broken and less of the key cards end up in dealer showcases. I say all of that to say this: I wanted desperately to pick up a Marcus Henderson autographed relic card from A&G and left the show still needing one.
The AFL Search Continues
Of course, I didn't depart the show completely empty-handed. My other main collecting objective at this show was to pick up some key autograph singles for my 2005 and 2006 Upper Deck Arena Football League sets. Although I found no AFL singles on the floor, I did stumble across the Cardsone booth and cleared out their remaining inventory of UD AFL retail (five boxes from 2005, five from 2006). Outside of pulling a few memorabilia cards I needed, everything else was exhaust. But at the bargain price of $7.50 a box, I couldn't resist.
I also picked up a sweet circa 1993-1994 AFL Cleveland Thunderbolts game-worn jersey for the relatively princely sum of $85.
Don't Touch that Dial
Give the Beckett guys a high-def camera and free reign at National Sports Collectors Convention and you'd be surprised at what we can come up with. Stay tuned in coming days as we bring you exclusive footage, interviews and more than a few failed segments.
Overheard at the National
"Have you guys ever graded an 11?"
– Random passerby at the Beckett booth who, seemingly, was serious.
"Everybody is somebody to someone."
– Rob Veres, on why he's more than willing to list more than 300,00 commons on the Beckett Marketplace and eBay using the Beckett Channel Integrator.
"You're gonna be pissed, but I just bought a filthy Manning patch."
– Anonymous collector on a cell phone, presumably talking to his better half.