Monthly Archives: August 2010

Tebow spotlight shines brightly on Palm Beach Autographs

By SUSAN LULGJURAJ | SPECIAL TO BECKETT MEDIA

BALTIMORE – One of the hottest athletes in the market is not easy to find at the National Sports Collectors Convention, but once you find Tim Tebow memorabilia on the Baltimore Convention Center floor, you’re swimming in it.

Tebow, who won two national championships with the Florida Gators, signed an exclusive memorabilia deal with Palm Beach Autographs, which has two stores in Jacksonville and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Co-owner Jim Dodson, a Florida graduate, has seen the immediate benefits of a Tebow exclusive, including a booth at the National, which is the first sports collectors convention the company has attended as a vendor.

“Having his product certainly helped with us being here,” Dodson said. “I’m not sure what the likelihood of us being here would have been if we didn’t have his stuff.”

By the fourth day of the National, Palm Beach Autographs had sold about 15 Tebow items, which ran anywhere from $180 to more than $1,000. There were posters, jerseys, mini helmets and signed pictures – among other pieces. Palm Beach Autographs has other memorabilia such as baseball and golf, but focus on college football. Tebow was their most popular item.

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Can The National be more like San Diego Comic-Con?

By SUSAN LULGJURAJ | SPECIAL TO BECKETT MEDIA

BALTIMORE – The 31st annual National Sports Collectors Convention finished on Sunday and then dealers packed their boxes (hopefully lighter than when they arrived) and collectors went home with cards, memorabilia and empty wallets.

For five days, collectors looked for different trading cards, game-used items and received autographs at the Baltimore Convention Center. Some left with bags full of goodies they don’t even know where to put yet. While others left with just one or two coveted prizes.

Conventions like these have ways of changing over the years. San Diego’s Comic-Con, which started as a comic book show, has turned into one of the biggest pop culture events in the country. While there are still comics, statues of Superman and places to find your Klingon dictionary, there are different types of events such as Q&A panels with popular television shows that have become the heart of the show.

So how can the National get as big as Comic-Con?

Here were a few suggestions heard on the floor on Sunday.

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At The National: A picture's worth …

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Beckett Baseball‘s Chris Olds caught up with John Rogers who is doing some good business at the National Sports Collectors Convention selling photographs from the archives of some memorable photographers and publications like The Sporting News.

Learn more about his company and how you can find some unique collectibles in the video.

At The National: Random sights of what's up for sale

Babe Ruth, anyone?

There’s simply so much to be found at the National Sports Collectors Convention that it would take days to see it all.

Here’s a small sampling — some traditional, some unusual and some just flat-out weird — of what caught our eye on Saturday at the nation’s biggest sports card and memorabilia convention.

See it all after the jump.

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At The National: No. 1 for a cause

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Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds caught up with the buyer of the No. 1 Topps Heritage Stephen Strasburg card, which was sold to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

The Strasburg card has been the talker of the show and it started with the charity auction where it fetched nearly $900.

See what the buyer had to say about the card …

At The National: Japanese baseball cards & more

Another of the more unusual finds for myself at the National Sports Collectors Convention were baseball cards, photos and other memorabilia that isn’t as tough to find today as they might have once been — those from Japan.

Only a handful of dealers had these types of items, but they definitely aren’t like much of what one would find at a show with many a booth heavily populated with vintage singles, autographs and wax.

Collectors are probably familiar with the Nippon Professional Baseball cards of Ichiro Suzuki, but there’s a whole other world of unusual cards to be found when one explores baseball through another culture. (Oh, and MLB players have Japanese cards — made by Topps — too.)

Again, here’s a small photo gallery of images after the jump.

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At The National: Key cards & autographs …

While wandering the floor at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, one type of card kept catching my eye … autographed vintage Rookie Cards (and a other autographed key cards).

They seemed to be everywhere.

Here’s a very, very small sampling … after the jump.

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At The National: Talking baseball with Dirk Hayhurst, author of The Bullpen Gospels

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Beckett Baseball‘s Chris Olds caught up with Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dirk Hayhurst at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

He’s a real character — who hasn’t yet appeared on a Topps baseball card — but we’re going to talk about that and a little more.

What did the author of The Bullpen Gospels have to say?

Watch and find out …

Follow Hayhurst on Twitter by clicking here.

At The National: Turning $14 into $9,000 with The Baseball Card Exchange

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While wandering the floor at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention, Beckett Baseball‘s Chris Olds happened upon a pretty interesting transaction that turned $14 into $9,000 for one collector.

Get all the details on how that happened with The Baseball Card Exchange owner Steve Hart, a specialist on vintage wax and hear a little bit more from him about the show.

Video At The National: Topps' Panel Discussion

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On Thursday evening at the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, Topps officials (from left to right Clay Luraschi, David Reel, Mark Sapir, John Buscaglia and Michael Mader) sat down with a small group of collectors and media members to discuss the company’s products and more.

Beckett Media was there and captured the event on video. Over the course of several video segments, you’ll feel like you were there, too. Here’s a sneak peek.

See Part 2 and the rest of seven segments after the jump.

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Fewer card brands seen on dealers' shelves at NSCC

By SUSAN LULGJURAJ | SPECIAL TO BECKETT MEDIA

BALTIMORE — With wax boxes piled high at the National Sports Collectors Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center, it was easy to notice the number of boxes not from this year.

Most hobby boxes dated through the decade with plenty of wax from 2007-2009, but this year’s boxes were hard to come to by. With more exclusive licenses in the industry, there are fewer products on the market. Dealers, collectors and companies all feel the effect — for better or worse.

Some dealers like to have fewer products where as others see less product as less money.

“For every good product, there were a lot of losers and the risk for me is higher,” said Chris Edmonds, owner of Redman’s Dugout in Glasgow, Ky. “But now, the market can handle all of the products because there are less of them. There is less risk for me.”
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Two Days at The National: A Photo Gallery

BALTIMORE — Following two and a half days immersed in the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention, I bittersweetly boarded a plane in Baltimore Friday afternoon to head back home. Bitter: I had to leave The National! Enough said. Sweet: I was mere hours away from reuniting with my sainted wife and two sons.

Not to worry: The ever-capable Chris Olds and a superstar slew of Beckett folks remained in Baltimore, as did an inordinate amount of personal highlights, including four maddeningly delicious crab cakes, quality time well spent with loyal Beckett customers, longtime friends and neat new ones.

I saw tons of cool autographed Tim Tebow memorabilia, but not nearly enough Tebow singles. I saw a bunch of excited collectors pulling some absolute cornerstone cards while participating in redemption programs for In The Game, the new Leaf, Panini America, Press Pass, Topps and Upper Deck. I saw a Brett Favre lookalike (Gary Williams from Kentucky) on Thursday morning, a walk-off Orioles victory from the cozy confines of Camden Yards on Thursday night (Tom and Mindy Noonan, you people are saints),  and enough cool Babe Ruth memorabilia to last until, well, at least a year — until the 32nd National in Chicago.

Heck, I even signed a few autographs (no, really, I did) and made an appearance on the Card Corner Club radio show. Indeed, I left Baltimore with tons of great memories — and an iPhone full of photos . . .

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Stephen Strasburg Topps Heritage Card Creates National Frenzy

By SUSAN LULGJURAJ | SPECIAL TO BECKETT MEDIA

BALTIMORE — The stampede was nearly heard across the floor of the National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) on Thursday afternoon. Collectors, flippers and baseball fans ran to get on line for an exclusive Stephen Strasburg 2010 Topps Heritage card, which can only be found at the NSCC at the Baltimore Convention Center.

Security tried to keep collectors back, but at 1 p.m., they rushed the line to get one of 225 cards given out that day.

Topps will hand out 998 of the Strasburg Heritage cards (the first was sold on eBay as part of a charity auction) as part of a wrapper redemption program at the NSCC. Ten packs of any 2010 Topps baseball products worth more than .99 cents will net a collector one of the Strasburg cards – while supplies last.

While there are many who like to grab the cards for their own collection, the common idea on the show floor this week has been to throw the Strasburg Heritage card on eBay and try to make money.

“Moving it is a no-brainer,” said Wes Yee, a prospector from San Francisco attending his first National. “It’s a cool card, but I would rather have the money to spend on stuff I really want.”

The Strasburg card was an instant hit with collectors from the moment Topps announced the redemption program. Early eBay sales have the National exclusive card selling between $80-$100.

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The Unbelievable Story of a Tim Tebow 1/1 Autograph

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Baltimore collector Bill Shoul recounts the horror of his son losing a 2010 Prestige Tim Tebow 1/1 autograph . . . and the euphoria of finding it 24 hours later.

Strolling the floor at the National Sports Collectors Convention

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Beckett Media’s Tracy Hackler takes you on a quick stroll around the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

Oh, the sights!

Box Busters at the NSCC: 2010 Famous Fabrics

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Tracy Hackler is on the road at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore and sat down with In The Game‘s Dr. Brian Price watches as a loyal customer opens a 10-card case of the new Famous Fabrics Second Edition in this edition of Box Busters.

What will they find inside? Check it out…

Artist Kevin John produces sketch cards for Pop Century set

Phoenix-based sports artist Kevin John created 800 full-color sketch cards for the newly released Razor Pop Century set, which makes its debut this week at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

The line, now part of the Leaf Trading Cards label, includes three autographed cards and three memorabilia cards per box.

Among the sketches done by John are William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Stan Lee, Kim Kardashian, Davy Jones, Bo Derek and others.

“This really takes my work in an entirely new direction,” said the artist. “It allows the average collector to obtain original artwork that is usually reserved for my celebrity and athlete clients. Razor is an industry leader in collectible card products, and it’s an honor to be chosen as their solo artist for this series.”

Brian Gray revives Leaf brand at The National

The gates of the National Sports Collectors Convention are about to open and there’s already a few nuggets of news with the return of an old, familiar name.

Brian Gray, formerly of the Razor Entertainment Group has launched Leaf Trading Cards, one of the past brand names commonly associated with Donruss products in the 1980s. However, Panini America does not own the Leaf trademark as part of the Donruss-Playoff umbrella.

“When I saw that the Leaf brand was available, I immediately recognized it was the perfect match for my new endeavor,” said Gray in a prepared statement. “The Leaf brand is synonymous with high quality and longevity, pre-dating any current manufacturer. My vision is to produce the highest quality cards with an irresistible value, while maintaining a long-term commitment to improving this industry.”

Leaf has acquired all non-baseball brands of the Razor Entertainment Group.

Its first release will be 2010 Leaf MMA available in late September 2010.

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In The Game enters baseball card market

In The Game, a company known for its trading cards of hockey prospects, will take to a different field in November.

The baseball field.

ITG unveiled its plans for 2010 In The Game Heroes and Prospects Baseball Hits to Beckett Media on Wednesday before the start of the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore.

“Over the past few years, In The Game’s Heroes and Prospects releases have remained among the most popular on the hockey card market and as the brand heads into its seventh season, we wanted to extend it into the baseball card market,” said In The Game’s President, Dr. Brian Price, in a release. “Our deep appreciation for the amazing history of the sport of baseball allows us to also go after some great names that are sure to appeal to collectors and we look forward to producing something that is sure to stand out in the marketplace.”

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A-Rod hits home run No. 600 — and it's not special at all

By CHRIS OLDS | Beckett Baseball Editor | COMMENTARY

It ain’t what it used to be.

That’s the easiest way to sum up the 600 home run club — not because of suspicions of performance-enhancing drugs or steroids, but because they are a reality reflected in the record books.

There was a time when just three players in baseball history had reached that plateau, three unquestioned legends in the game — Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays.

Sure, we have since heard other legendary tales about Ruth beyond the field. And sure, we have heard about the ugly things that Aaron faced in his march toward the top of the record books. And, of course, collectors have heard their stories about Mays at card shows. But those three players’ performances were never in question.

And, again, 600 ain’t what it used to be.

In 1931 at age 36, Ruth became the first player in MLB history to reach the mark. Thirty-eight years later, in 1969, a 38-year-old Mays joined him. Two years after that, in 1971, so did a 37-year-old Aaron.

For 31 years, Aaron, Ruth and Mays were the only members of that elite class of hitter, unquestioned royalty of the game. Countless other greats — Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle and more — all came up short despite having careers of longevity and consistency that easily produced Hall of Fame results.

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Panini unveils autograph quantities for NSCC exclusives

Panini America‘s National Sports Collectors Convention wrapper redemption packs will have plenty of autographs to be found once the action at the show begins this evening.

The company released the list of signatures — as well as card types and quantities — to Beckett Media on Wednesday.

The Panini Wrapper Redemption set includes 50 cards. Highlights? The first official NBA cards of No. 1 pick John Wall, No. 2 pick Evan Turner and No. 4 pick Wesley Johnson.

All cards are numbered to 499 or less and the set includes the first card of  LeBron James in a Miami Heat uniform as well as a card of Chris Sale, who makes his MLB debut tonight for the Chicago White Sox just two months after being drafted.

Get the rundown, as well as a mini gallery of some of the autographs, after the jump.

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New Images Shed Additional Light on 2010 Topps UFC

In April we provided the excited first glimpses of 2010 Topps UFC, the company’s fourth stand-alone UFC trading card product due out later this summer. Back then, we told you that the set would release in late August featuring the industry’s first fight-worn fist tape cards, MMA’s first book cards and dual-signed cards featuring autographs from Dana White and some of the UFC’s all-time greats.

The good news: All of those things remain true about the release now, just weeks from launch.

The better news: Topps officials confirmed today that the product also will include  on-card autographs from the fighters and coaches (Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz) from Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter 11” reality show, won by Court McGee.

In light of Saturday’s heavily anticipated UFC 117 showdown between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the torrentially trash-talking — and highly entertaining — Chael Sonnen, we figured now was as good a time as any to provide another must-see gallery from a product — and a brand — that seems to improve every time it enters the Octagon.

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Gallery: Panini America National Convention Box Wars Prizes

When the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention kicks off in earnest on Thursday in Baltimore, veteran show-goers will be treated to a bevy of familiar sights, including a sea of dealer tables, graded vintage cards galore, miles of new wax and the sparkling allure of the corporate pavilion.

That’s where the card manufacturers will be set up, enticing collectors with a stunning array of redemption programs, contests, handouts and promotions. One such contest that has become a staple of the Panini America booth is the company’s popular Box Wars program.

It returns this week in Baltimore with a full slate of showdowns incorporating the company’s football and basketball products. Once again, some of the collection-making cornerstones being offered as prizes (below) are sure to keep the box-busting crowds thick around the company booth come contest time.

A complete Box Wars schedule will be available at the Panini America booth. As for some of the prize cards, well, you can see those now . . .

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Putting the "National" in National Treasures Basketball

In conjunction with this week’s launch of 2009-10 Playoff National Treasures Basketball and the opening of the 31st National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, Panini America officials today announced plans for a special edition of Box Wars at the company booth on Saturday afternoon.

In addition to Box Wars prizes ranging from an autographed Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey or 2009 NBA Draft Day hats worn by the likes of Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings, the first 50 collectors who bring an unopened box of National Treasures to the Panini booth will receive a randomly selected piece of event-used memorabilia from the 2009 NBA Draft (nameplates, draft boards, hats) or an autographed basketball from the 2009 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot.

Stay tuned to Beckett.com this week for complete coverage from the floor of the 31st National.

I'll Tweet You For It

In case you missed it, St. Louis Blues forward David Perron is celebrating the signing of his new deal by giving his Twitter followers a chance to win an autographed stick directly from him.

The budding star announced the contest, which ends on Wednesday, in late July by asking fans to prove their Perron fandom with a picture.

Perron has been rather enlightening with his tweets by giving fans insightful information (sometimes in French). He clearly enjoys communicating with hockey fans in the offseason.

He’s already amassed more than 13,000 followers thanks to his popular teammates – defenseman Erik Johnson and tough guy Cam Janssen. Johnson, it should be noted, will be giving some money to charity for reaching 15,000 followers and Janssen is planning an opening night ticket giveaway for his 6,000th follower. He hasn’t reached that number just yet.

Lagging behind is teammate Patrik Berglund, who is hoping to reach 10,000 followers and will donate $5,000 to charity as well; currently he has less than 4,000. The money will be donated to an as yet undetermined cause, but the Berglund camp is soliciting advice on that.

— Russ Cohen

Chicago Cubs SS Starlin Castro is fifth Topps Red Hot Rookie

Topps unveiled the fifth of its 2010 Red Hot Rookies on Monday morning and this one’s Chicago Cubs infielder Starlin Castro.

Castro is hitting .309 for the Cubs this season.

The Red Hot Rookie redemptions are found one per hobby box of 2010 Topps Series 2 baseball cards. The remainder of the 10-card set will be announced throughout the remainder of the season. Previous RHRs include Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton, Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch (No. 3), Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata (No. 2) and Indians catcher Carlos Santana (No. 1).

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at colds@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Panini signs exclusive multi-year deal with Pro Football Hall of Fame

Panini America announced Monday an exclusive, multi-year marketing and licensing agreement with the Pro Football Hall of Fame that names Panini as its exclusive trading card partner.

Panini will present three autograph sessions that will take place during the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinements later this month.

The sessions will include signings by the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of Enshrinees – Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.  In addition there will be a separate individual session featuring Rice and Smith as well as a third session that will include members of the 2010 class as well as other Hall of Famers like Steve Young, Warren Moon, Bruce Smith, Bob Griese, Roger Staubach, Eric Dickerson, Joe Greene, Tony Dorsett and Dick Butkus. A limited number of tickets are currently on sale for these sessions by calling 800-913-9788.

“We are pleased to announce our exclusive partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in advance of a great Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival,” said Mark Warsop, CEO of Panini America.  “We look forward to working with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and establishing links to the NFL players of the past that made the popularity of the NFL what it is today.”

A special Pro Football Hall of Fame trading card set will also be available for purchase. It will include limited edition, autographed cards featuring Grimm, Jackson, LeBeau, Little, Randle, Rice and Smith.

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