Monthly Archives: August 2011

Random sightings from The National …

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

One of the best things about the National Sports Collectors Convention are the surprises that one can find by merely walking the floor.

And it’s got little to do with the items for sale, but rather the people and the items that aren’t up for grabs.

For example, this year’s National marked the first time I actually met Dr. Jim Beckett, the founder of Beckett Media. While he’s no longer involved with the publishing company, he’s still involved with the hobby and charitable endeavors and was soaking up the sights at this year’s show.

Here, he’s caught chatting with Panini America‘s Mike Payne and Carlos Torrez.

See a sampling of a few more sightings after the jump …

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Collector Box Busters: National Treasures at NSCC

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Beckett Media’s Chris Olds caught up with one father-son duo as they ripped a case of National Treasures football cards … here are the fireworks from their final pack.

What was the biggie? Watch and find out …

Ripping Retail Retro: A 1980 Topps cello pack

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Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds ripped a cello pack of 1980 Topps baseball cards on the floor of the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago for yet another Ripping Retail Retro video.

What did he find inside? Did he land a Rickey Henderson?

Watch and find out …

Ripping Retail Retro: Some 1970s Topps basketball

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Beckett Basketball’s Chris Olds ripped a pack of 1970s Topps basketball cards on the floor at the National Sports Collectors Convention just so you could find out what was inside.

What was in it? Watch and find out …

Leaf’s Joe Jackson cut autograph finds a home

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A one-of-a kind “Shoeless” Joe Jackson card was given away by Leaf at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago.

You’ve read the story … now see it happen.

My moment with “The Man” says it all about Ric Flair

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By Chris Olds | Beckett Sports Card Monthly Editor | Commentary

If you know your professional wrestling, then the name Ric Flair means plenty.

But if you don’t, you should — and it’s got much more to do with life beyond what happens in the ring or on TV.

He’s regarded as the best wrestler, the best talker and, well, the best bleeder in the world — and that’s just for starters.

There were several guests appearing for photo opportunities and signing autographs at the National Sports Collectors Convention this past week in suburban Chicago, allowing fans of many sports to meet their heroes, get some ink and create a moment that will likely carry with them for some time.

While I was busy working the floor talking to dealers and card company reps (and doing what collectors do, too) for much more to come — and Mr. Tolentino was working finding voices from the show — many a moment occurred. For every autograph signed — just like every dealer’s table — there’s a potential story or two.

However, this fleeting story is mine — mere seconds among the hustle and bustle of a show that had thousands of collectors and fans inside the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. And, of course, this moment involved “The Nature Boy.”

For those of you who don’t know the essence of Flair, the gimmick, watch the video above from decades ago. Soak up the subtleties of not being so subtle, driving people into arenas where he could put on a show. The clip is one of countless perfect promos that defined his character, his gimmick, while getting the job done. Flair was the world heavyweight champion 16 times back when holding the NWA belt meant you traveled the world competing against every territory’s (every wrestling company’s) best, allowing all the smaller markets, international markets, promoters and fans a glimpse at greatness no matter where they were.

Flair is a relic from the past of professional wrestling — the days before the WWE ruled the land, forever altering its landscape. Then, of course, one should know that Flair has lived his gimmick for decades — and he’s still going for TNA at age 62.

Beyond all that, though, there’s another reason he’s so highly regarded among the wrestling ranks — and my moment showed a mere touch of that as well. It showed how in-person — when not living the high life at the wrestling crew’s hotel bar — he’s as anti-Flair as can be. Meanwhile, there’s nothing he hasn’t accomplished in his profession, and that’s a rare combination — success and humility — something, again, quite anti-Flair.

And that’s why people love him.

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Bowman Platinum USA Baseball redemptions revealed

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

If you pulled a USA Baseball cards from ToppsBowman Platinum, you now know who you MIGHT get from the USA Baseball collegiate national team.

The 22-player redemption list was released on Monday, which includes some players who are projected to be drafted in the first round of the 2012 MLB first-year entry draft.

The USA Baseball redemptions were inserted two per 12-box hobby case. Collectors redeeming the card will get one randomly selected players off the list below.

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That’s a wrap at the 2011 NSCC

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While I haven’t actually seen a fat lady singing, the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention has come to a close. Our coverage, on the other hand, is far from over.

Stay tuned to for more photos, videos and stories from this year’s show.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Ron Sylvester

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Ron Sylvester from Trini 6 Sports Cards & Memorabilia (Delaware) takes us on a tour of the hits from his booth at the show.

Ongoing gallery: Day five at the NSCC

It’s not over ’til the fat lady sings, folks.

As the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention comes to a close today, remote and on-location collectors needn’t look any further than here for the ongoing wrap-up gallery.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Dealers who buy

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Dealers  who buy explain what they’re looking for and what might deter them when acquiring collections and pieces from hobbyists at the NSCC and beyond.

If there’s one word to define the National Sports Collectors Convention, it’s …

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

As the final day of the National Sports Collectors Convention begins here in a few minutes, I find myself pondering just how I would sum up the show so far — in a single word.


The NSCC is overwhelming in how much stuff is on the show floor. There has to be a million cards up for grabs — between singles and boxes  — and that feels like a conservative estimate. There’s so much yet finding that one card you have been looking for still might be elusive. It’s a smaller show than, say, 10-15 years ago but it’s still too huge to see.

The NSCC is overwhelming in its positive environment where, while collectors are standing in lines and on their feet all day, one can clearly see that the dedication to collecting and the thrill of the hunt trumps soreness and long lines.

The NSCC is overwhelming for me in that I have run into countless collectors who recognized me, signed a few autographs and, of course, gave them my annual custom show card.

The NSCC is overwhelming with the amount of reactions and discussions between collectors and manufacturers, dealers, etc. It’s clear that there are many, many types of collectors — and plenty of people ready to help them out. Not every product is for everyone — and a show like this should be a reminder.

The NSCC is overwhelming in what you’ll find. It’s a museum-like experience even if one can’t afford much of what is available. (Put me in that group.)

What’s a single word that defines the show for you?

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball magazine. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an email to him at Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

Ripping Retail Retro: A pack of 1982 O-Pee-Chee

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Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds picked up a few older packs and boxes to rip for you on camera while at the National Sports Collectors Convention.

This one is the first of a few to some. What will he find inside? Which hobby bloggers dropped in on the madness?

Watch and find out …

Busting a Leaf wrapper redemption pack at NSCC

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Beckett Baseball’s Chris Olds busted a Leaf wrapper redemption pack at the National Sports Collectors Convention so you could see what’s inside.

Do you want the card?

Tell me why you should be picked in a comment…

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: After hours

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Beckett Grading veteran J.J. Arredondo interviews editor Andrew Tolentino during a rare break in the makeshift grading room behind the curtains of the company booth.

Chattanooga man wins rare “Shoeless” Joe Jackson cut signature card from Leaf (updated)

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

A crowd gathered around Leaf Trading Cards’ company booth at the National Sports Collectors Convention on Saturday. The onlookers craned their necks to peek at two men who had an opportunity to win a rare “Shoeless” Joe Jackson cut signature card.

Excitement enveloped the area as the stage was set for the contest.

Leaf offered the cut signature card as part of a promotion in its 2010 Sports Icons product. In the 340 cases produced, just three lucky Four Leaf Clover cards were included.

Whoever pulled one would get a chance at winning the Jackson card. A fourth entrant would be the person who completed most of the set and presented it to Leaf at The National.

Bill Witherspoon, who pulled a clover card, and Brian Hugen, who amassed more than 600 Sports Icons cards, were the only two contestants. The other two clover cards had not been pulled yet.

“We want to show people when it comes to the biggest and most elusive stuff – that’s what we do,” Leaf President Brian Gray said. “We keep coming up with these crazy prices. These cards are just insane. We try to come up with these big prizes that are mind-blowing.”

Sunday update: The card has been consigned to Heritage Auctions as a no-reserve auction this fall, according to the owner

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2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Scott Schwartz

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Celebrity acquisitions specialist Scott Schwartz explains his passion for and role in the hobby at the 32nd annual National Sports Collectors Convention.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Clay Luraschi

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Topps Director of Sports Brands Clay Luraschi discusses the company’s presence at The National and unveils a taste of what’s to come in 2011 Topps Inception Football.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: David Hunt

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David Hunt — the man who puts the “Hunt” in Hunt Auctions takes us on a tour of some of the most coveted glass-encased goodies at the show.

Leaf plans product featuring celebrity sports artist Kevin-John sketch cards

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Celebrity sports artist Kevin-John has been creating artwork for 25 years. But he only recently got his name into the sketch card business.

Two years ago, Kevin-John was at the National Sports Collectors Convention where Brian Gray from Leaf Trading Cards saw his work. From there, Kevin-John’s career as a sketch card artist took off.

The NSCC had opened new doors for him and he was able to use his skills in a different market he hadn’t even known existed before then.

“A year ago, I didn’t even know what a sketch card was,” Kevin-John said from the floor of the National. “For the last 25 years, I have been creating sports art by commission for athletes and teams.”

Leaf commissioned about 200 of sketch cards from Kevin-John for its 2010 Pop Century product. The company officials were so pleased with the work, it commissioned another 700 for the 2011 product.

Leaf brought Kevin-John back once again for the 2011 National.

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2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Richard Rea

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Richard Rea of A to Z Comics & Cards takes us on a tour of his varied inventory and explains the importance of The National to the hobby.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Upper Deck

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UD Authenticated
sales rep Lindsay Sherry takes us on a tour of the most prominent pieces from Upper Deck’s booth at The National.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Brian Wallos & Cassandra Lynn

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Brian Wallos and Playboy Playmate Cassandra Lynn discuss the new Hot for Teachers product and the Benchwarmers presence at The National.

Ongoing gallery: Day four at the NSCC

By Andrew Tolentino | Editor

Even on the eve of The National’s end, I’d be lying if I said that I’ve seen all that I can see.

As many a show goer can attest, this event is somewhere beyond overwhelming … but in a good way. The fact that there is simply so much stuff — being slung by so many different people from so many different places — is a refreshing sight to see.

If The National is somewhat of an annual checkup, the hobby’s heart sure is beating strong in Rosemont, Ill.

Full-on photo coverage continues on the second to last day of the National Sports Collectors Convention.

NSCC gallery: Autographs aplenty

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

We all know how important the autograph is to the collecting world these days, and it’s more than obvious that’s the case if one strolls the floor of the National Sports Collectors Convention.

But the types of autographs found on the floor of the show?

You’d be surprised … it’s not just baseball … and it’s not just sports.

Sights like the one above – Albert Pujols, Roger Maris and Hank Aaron all within inches of each other — are common

See a gallery of images after the jump.

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Ripping retail retro … at The National

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Beckett Baseball Editor Chris Olds decided that his first wax purchase at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention would be a big one … a box of packs that cost him about two cents apiece.

What are the cards? What will he find inside?

Watch and find out …

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Father-son duos

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By Andrew Tolentino | Editor

For collectors who have children old enough to appreciate the hobby, The National always seems to be a destination for building that bond. Again, this place has a way of being magical in so many ways.

While we’ve definitely come across our fair share of other parent-child combinations, the most prevalent pairs at the show are father-son duos. Walking the aisles, waiting in lines and paying way too much for convention center food (conveniently located, but inconveniently priced), these genetically-linked teams are part of the hobby’s greater family tree.

Here, we see a few two-generation tandems keeping the tradition alive.

For a dramatic effect, try re-watching the video above, but muted and with this Peter Gabriel great playing at the same time.

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Artists splash National with some color

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

When it comes to high-ticket items, collectors aren’t settling for trading cards or autographed memorabilia anymore. Paintings – better known as sports art – is becoming a popular collectible.

Several artists displayed their work at the National Sports Collectors Convention, all with unique, distinctive styles.

The process to get the paintings into the hands of collectors could be time consuming. It seems most of the artists create a large painting first, bigger than a normal canvas size. Then use a digital scan and put that on a canvas. Afterward, they add detail with paint to create unique portraits and are able to create several paintings – sometimes in the hundreds.

Of course, these paintings come with a hefty price tag – especially if the subject has signed the artwork.

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2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Michael Russek

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Michael Russek of Grey Flannel Auctions takes us through the highlight-reel-worthy items up for grabs in a current company auction.

2011 NSCC Voices from the National: Nick Matijevich

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Hobby figurehead Nick Matijevich offers a rundown on show exclusives, redemption programs and the overall Press Pass presence at The National.

TriStar gives collectors a history lesson at The National

By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Off to the side of the corporate section at the National Sports Collectors Convention, in its own nestle of the floor, the TriStar booth shows off its few hobby products with a vast appeal.

The company, which creates unlicensed products, is like many of the other booths around. It is giving away card redemptions if its Obak product, but on Saturday the company will have something more exciting.

Four wrestling stars, including Ric Flair and Kurt Angle, will be on hand to sign autographs and take pictures with collectors. The only thing you have to go is a buy a box of TNA Wrestling by TriStar. The rest is free.

TriStar’s presence is felt throughout the show and not just in its corporate booth. The company sponsors the popular autograph pavilion, which has fan after fan waiting on line to get a signature from their favorite players.

This wait gives TriStar the opportunity for collectors to check out their product, and it already has created passionate fans.

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Ongoing gallery: Day three at the NSCC

Today is the second full day of The National Sports Collectors Convention.

While the first couple of picture shows were mostly scene setters, today’s image gallery promises a little more refinement. In response to some remote reader commentary regarding a better view of “the goods” from the show,  we’ll take a different approach today — light on generic, generous on gems.

In the day three gallery, we’ll aim to shoot more vintage, more rarities and more magnificence from Rosemont, Ill.

2011 NSCC Voices from the show: Tracy Hackler

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Tracy Hackler gives us a brief tour of the goods at the Panini America booth at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention.

As always, vintage has heavy presence at The National … even in my first purchase

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

A common refrain from some groups of collectors seemingly every year is that there’s a heavy vintage presence at the National Sports Collectors Convention … and, ironically, my first two card purchases had three things in common.

They were immensely affordable. They weren’t new products. And, they were … vintage.

And the irony of all ironies? They weren’t sports cards at all.

For a whopping $12 — roughly the price of a cab ride or a breakfast buffet in the Windy City — or a handful of packs of the brand-new stuff still probably rolling off the presses, I got a pair of cards that you probably just won’t find at any remaining dealers on the show floor.

Robert Marey of Scottsdale Baseball Cards wasn’t bragging when I asked him whether any other dealers at the show perhaps specialized in the Allen & Ginter tobacco cards that I was seeking — purely on a whim — and he said no.

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First looks can be right under your nose at National

By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor

One subtle yet simple indicator that you’re at the National Sports Collectors Convention might be right in front of you — and you might not even know it unless you actually try to block out the sensory overload that is the biggest card show in the land  … and stop to take a look.

These subtle signs can be sitting in a simple display case while you wait in line for the latest in free cards — Thursday’s example?

While collectors stood in line awaiting their 1962 Topps-inspired Heritage wrapper redemption cards of Dee Gordon, they might — might — have noticed a sneak peek at several forthcoming baseball products from Topps at the company’s booth.

You know, stuff we really haven’t seen before. The good stuff — the cards — were kept under wraps but the display boxes and wrappers for several forthcoming products were on display.

See the other three besides Triple Threads after the jump.

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