What did you get at The NSCC? I got Reggie …


 By Chris Olds | Beckett Baseball Editor | Commentary

The National Sports Collectors Convention is the place you visit to pick up memories, add to your collections that you have built over a lifetime and, in a way, shape your own personal view of the sports world.

With my final hour of my final day at the show winding down, it was now-or-never time for finding a certain memorable item to add to my collection since I had purchased just a couple small items — nothing necessary, nothing remotely memorable — while working. Before this year’s event, I had told myself that I should find one item — a better piece — that I could remember the show by, so that was what was in my mind as I made my way out of the Beckett bullpen with one of our writers and we headed down one aisle.

What I got in that last hour was something I never in my life could have expected — something I could have never want-listed or dreamt about. It wasn’t a Rookie Card or an autograph, it wasn’t an unusual piece of memorabilia I couldn’t find anywhere else.

What I got was Reggie Jackson.

What I got was not Reggie on a signed 1969 Topps Rookie Card (something I had eyed the previous year; above) or Reggie on an old candy bar long past its prime. I got the Reggie that made Billy Martin even angrier. I got the Reggie that made reporters cringe. I got the Reggie that made teammates scowl.

I got what made Reggie  “The Straw That Stirs The Drink.” I got the Reggie that I have heard stories about from show promotors and autograph-acquiring companies in the past.

I got berated for taking photo of Reggie Jackson by Reggie Jackson.

We had walked a distance from our bullpen toward some dealers on that side of the Baltimore Convention Center, breezing by some tables, stopping at others. We came up on a table where, a bit earlier in the day, Jackson had been posing with a bat while looking at items one dealer had for sale. After all, he was at the show to sign and he’s also been known as a collector of memorabilia, cards and sports cars (much of it lost in a fire long ago). Turns out, he was still there. We were 10 to 15 feet away from Jackson when two of our writers came up to tell us they were leaving for the day, giving us their last contacts before hitting the road.

Those of us remaining took a few more steps forward, stopping at the table to look at whatever treasures were there when I said, “I guess I should get a picture of Reggie” and started fidgeting with my iPhone, raising it once but it was on my video setting from filming wax breaks and other videos before. I switched its settings and took a few more steps forward when a couple of other collectors walked off after taking a picture of the Hall of Famer from across the two tables.

From six or so feet away, I framed up the image of him and card industry legend  Ken Goldin, who was beside him, looking at a baseball and clicked once (the image at the top) as Jackson himself just started to click.

“How many you need?” he quipped (at least I think thats what he said as it was all a blur). “Take a couple and move on.”

A bit surprised, I looked to my right but nobody was there and spun around to see where my writer had went. Jackson was talking to me and he wasn’t done.

“How many do you need? Six, seven … 10, 11?” clearly agitated and not kidding. “Take a couple and move on.”

“I got one,” I said, holding up a single finger. “One.”

For a split-second, I contemplated saying something to Goldin — a “How are you doing?” and an introduction to break the unnecessary tension as I had talked to him before last year’s show, make Jackson realize he might have screwed up by berating a member of the media. But I was stunned, and I doubted Jackson would care.

All I could come up with was “I’m an A’s fan.” in a flustered response, raising both of my hands over my head, not believing the surreal circumstances.

Jackson wasn’t done barking at me like I was one of the reporters in those 1970s news clips.

“Buy my drinks and I’ll pose for photos with you all night,” he said (or something close to it) as the few other people around on his side of the table chuckled. I quickly quipped “sure” as the laughter died down, but he didn’t hear it and I was done with it. I wondered whether that was his way of making up for being Reggie.

It might have been, but I wasn’t sure so I walked off.


I was stunned for the rest of the show — the single image was taken at 5:10 p.m. on Aug. 4, according to my iPhone — and I tried to replay it all to myself and to the writer who witnessed it, a few recaps muttered with adjectives that couldn’t be written here.  (“Man, TMZ would have loved that on video,” I later thought.) We worked our way down a few other tables and found a dealer selling ticket stubs, stopped and looked — I was instantly reminded of Jackson again when one Yankees stub showed Jackson from the 1977 World Series.

I was done, annoyed once again. I didn’t buy another thing at the show. Less than 1/10th of the money I brought with me for buying was spent — a record-low.

At first it was shock as this life-long Oakland A’s fan was being trash-talked by one of the guys he’d have on his Mount Rushmore of A’s collecting — Reggie, Rickey, Jose and Swish. Then I thought back to the old notion that “you never want to meet your favorite player” because he might quash your entire image of him and why you collect. But that wasn’t it for me — I’ve met Canseco and I’ve met Swisher — neither was like this. (Heck, I could have met Henderson had I been in the Beckett booth for the whole show — he stopped and took a picture with members of our crew. That’s something I would not have expected out of Rickey.)

Instead, by a short time later and still feeling conflicted, I realized I got Reggie. I got the Reggie that isn’t the Reggie showing when the dog and pony show of the TV cameras are around at an event like the National. No, no. I got the real Reggie.

For me, he’s one of a kind. For him, I’m one of a million (or two). None of this really shocks me — put yourself in his shoes. Doesn’t make it right, but he’s been in the spotlight longer than I have been alive. I’ll give him that. But when I’m in the shoes of the one being treated poorly? Well, it’s different.

I got Reggie — one part of that puzzle that made him an enigma, a star. I got Reggie — the part that we may not always like, but it’s there.

He stirred me up. I hear he’s good at that.

Never once did I have any inclination of asking Reggie for an autograph — one that, oddly, I don’t have through all these years — I preferred just a snapshot from afar. I got much more, and it oddly sort of made my 2012 NSCC, too — but not in an overwhelmingly positive way.

I was ready to sign off on this entire story by the end of the night, but it ironically presented itself once again the next morning.

My flight out of Baltimore left at 7 a.m., which meant about two hours of sleep after a late-night VIP event I needed to attend on Saturday night. We got to the airport with no problems, and I quickly worked my way to a newsstand location for breakfast and the first food of any kind in about 10 hours. I made a beeline for a $4 bottle of Evian (that, to me was like finding a Honus Wagner in an attic), some pretzels, a sandwich and sleepily rolled to the check-out stand.

It was a line that couldn’t move fast enough as my head hurt just as much as the rest of me after a long show. I leaned on my suitcase, and I glanced up at what was on the counter in front of me to see what the hold-up was. In a sleepy haze I noticed three newspapers — two being New York tabloids — being stacked to be bought, and I remembered my days of working in the industry. “Oldschool readers are still around,” I thought to myself. “That’s good.” Then I glanced over and up … and that’s when everything seemingly went into slow-motion.

It was Reggie Jackson.


Part of me really wanted to ask him if I could buy his papers instead of his drinks just to see his reaction. But I really didn’t want to get Reggied one more time and we had a person in line between us. Yet, I also wondered if he’d remember me — after all, it might not be that hard to unless he made a habit out of berating fat guys in white dress shirts and khakis at the show. (That’s what I was wearing at the airport, too.)

Even though he treated me like something damp and useless beneath the napkin below The Drink just 13 or so hours earlier, I didn’t want to blow his cover to anyone around us. (I wasn’t a jackass before, wasn’t going to be now — not my style.) Instead, once again in shock, I watched as he paid and walked across the hall in a straight line to the Bayside Landing restaurant to sit and wait for a flight. I collected my things and moved on toward my gate. I ate my breakfast among the crowd and mentally recapped the whole thing, chuckling at it all.

But then I started to think about one more thing.

I collected my belongings and headed back toward the restaurant and the newsstand, intent on doing one more thing to cap this story if Jackson was still there and he was. It was 6:26 a.m. on Aug. 5, according to my iPhone, when facing the wall across from him using my two-way camera just in case he turned around to leave, I snapped this Nighthawks/Edward Hopper-style photo of Jackson, age 66, alone and far, far away from stirring anything.

It’s just my second photo of Reggie Jackson.

It’s the way I’ll choose to remember him for this trip.

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


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  1. Sandow 6 August, 2012 at 16:06

    Not surprising. Olds, you are one of many in this hobby who are socially awkward and can’t have real conversations if they aren’t online. And shocking that you’d be wearing a white dress shirt again.

  2. David Johnson 6 August, 2012 at 16:12

    Great story, it’s a shame you didn’t get more at the National, but that story is probably worth more than anything you could have bought there.

  3. Ground Chuck 6 August, 2012 at 16:13

    have you ever seen the crap Goldin sells on that auction network? “this card is easily worth $5000 and someone is going to steal it for $200.” he sells those crappy gold foiled cards that fetch about $2 on ebay for 49.99. he preys on uneducated grandparents who think they’re buying something nice for their grandson

  4. Wally 6 August, 2012 at 16:25

    I was at that table while Reggie was looking at those signed balls I stood beside him and one of the reps from Tristar looking at the items in the case and not trying to stare at Reggie. He was looking to buy a Babe Ruth autograph ball but wanted to get a better price from the dealer. As he put it “$8000 is a bit much even for me”. It was at that point when i chuckled he glared and I walked away.

  5. Jim 6 August, 2012 at 16:55

    Chris, that’s a nearly flawless photo. Perfect timing. I love the scolding look Reggie is giving you. I feel like that’d be something out of a movie.

  6. chrisolds 6 August, 2012 at 16:57

    Jim: I have others’ pics who were right by me. I like my airport pic more, though.

  7. craig 6 August, 2012 at 17:25

    the godfather of steroids mr. reggie jackson.. who do you think introduced roids to canseco in oakland? i think reggie is overrated. too may strike outs

  8. Chris j. 6 August, 2012 at 18:30

    I have a buddy in the MLB, and it does not surprise me about Reggie! He is a ******! He’s not just a ****** to fans, but players also! I wouldn’t give him the time of day or satisfaction of being a ******. He needs to realize if it weren’t for us, there would be no him!! ****!!!!

  9. bladefox 6 August, 2012 at 19:07

    My concern is that Ken Golden is still in the hobby and worst yet, Reggie associating w/ this biggest snake in the hobby. BTW, I wonder what he would say if told him I’m Angels fan LOL.

  10. bill johnson 6 August, 2012 at 21:07

    when i first started reading this articile i thought it was gonna be a happy ending to an amazing weekend. ive often read other stories of how athletes treat their fans. im a big fan of triple h and a few years back i read an article where he spit on a fan for just trying to take he’s picture. im still a fan of his but just the knowledge of that article and how he wouldnt be where he is today without the fans. i think most sports athletes forget about that. sure they get paid millions of dollars to play sports, but if it wasnt for us, the fans, they would be nothing more then a back page story, if that.

  11. Mark Fiscus 6 August, 2012 at 21:25

    Did you ever think that things might have gone differently if you had asked him if you could take a picture of him first? That would have been proper etiquette. Perhaps you deserved his ire as you were the one being rude.first. Just my take. I’m a nobody and I don’t like my picture being taken by somebody I don’t know or have a connection with.

  12. chrisolds 6 August, 2012 at 21:27

    Mark: Reggie was in a public area of the show with people coming and going. Fans and/or media photographers can come and go as they wish — and they don’t have to ask permission to take photos. I was far from intrusive, either, from several feet away. (Given the type of event he was attending as a paid signer, it should be expected.)

  13. kingofminors1 6 August, 2012 at 21:27


    Sorry to hear about your “baptism by Reggie.” I saw him in Spring Training years ago, and when a group asked him to sign, he said he had to do something but would be right back (the international sign that he is blowing off auto seekers). Sure enough, he came out 30 minutes later, walked right over and started signing. He took my ball and signed on the sweet spot. I thought: ‘This guy isn’t as bad as everyone says he is.’ After about ten autos, he starts walking away. Everybody is calling him. He turns around, and as sarcastically as possible, says “Yeah, Reggie, thanks for signing. Well, you’re welcome.” Yep, some things never change.

  14. Jeff B 7 August, 2012 at 02:40

    Well, I’m no celeb so I don’t have to deal with photos being taken of me every day of my life, but being a photographer, I am a bit of a camera snob….meaning, a CELL PHONE? That’s not even a real camera!!!

    You also weren’t even in Reggie’s “space” nor were you interfering with his “shopping”.

    That said, you probably should have introduced yourself/exonerated yourself…he obviously had you confused with an earlier-in-the-day photographer…(somewhere out there is a Chris Olds look-alike troublemaker with a dozen Reggie pictures…)

  15. Steve Semerdjian 7 August, 2012 at 11:37

    Chris, my friend and I were actually walking up to that dealer table when it all went down and I think Reggie also mentioned something about buying his dinner, to which my friend and I quipped to him, “We’d love to buy you dinner.” But he obviously didn’t take us very seriously as he went back to his business.

    On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my friend and I decided to head out to Bo Brooks for dinner that evening, and while we were waiting for our table, we noticed a rather rotund older gentleman heading out the door with another rather rotund younger gentleman. I did a double take and realized that it was none other than Tommy Lasorda. We watched him walk out of the restaurant, and I turned to my friend and said “We need to get a picture with him,” so I walked outside and politely asked him if he had a minute for a quick photo. The younger gentleman he was with immediately started to say that Mr. Lasorda had to get going and didn’t have time, but Mr. Lasorda interrupted him and said that he always had time for fans. He was VERY personable and we talked briefly about the Dodgers recent moves and what he thought about them them, to which he said something like “With all the moves they made they better win.” Here is the photo from my Twitter account: https://twitter.com/ssemerdjian/status/231903000384401408. That was a wonderfully unexpected experience.

  16. Kingbudd 7 August, 2012 at 11:40

    Chris thanks for the story… I think I would have been like you and played it as cool as possible and think about it for the next few days. What else can you do?!?!?!

  17. Paul Stratmeyer 7 August, 2012 at 16:09

    After meeting several of my favorite players ( Kirby Puckett, Pat Neshek,etc..) in person, the only one who DIDN’T let me down( all the others did ) was Harmon KIllebrew. Truly a class act.

  18. Andrew 7 August, 2012 at 20:36

    Yeah Chris you sure got “Reggied.”
    Paul, couldn’t agree more about Killebrew. I met him in Cooperstown right before he and Feller died. What a beautiful, affable guy he was. Made my whole weekend.

    Others who didn’t disappoint: Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr. (actually most Orioloes players Ive met were stand up guys, even Eddie Murray), Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor (SO humble), Ozzie Smith, Al Kaline, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Ryne Sandberg (signed for my son 3-4 times at spring training last year).,,

    “HOF” jerks: Jackson, Seaver, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew (charged me $20 just to put his uni number next to his auto), George Brett, Wade Boggs, Cliff Lee, Mike Schmidt (boyhood idol, I was crushed), Bob Gibson (really no surprises here

    Biggest surprises (given their reputations): Rickey Henderson (talked me up and gave me free autograph inscriptions), Eddie Murray, Cole Hamels (thought he’d be a brat, very nice, laid back)

  19. Phillip 8 August, 2012 at 09:58

    Nicest guy award goes to: JERRY RICE (runners-up include Ernie Banks, Bobby Hull, Emmitt Smith, Jim Brown, Demarcus Ware, Roger Staubach, Bill Mazeroski)

    Biggest toolbag award goes to: TROY AIKMAN (runners-up include Stan Musial, Mike Ditka, Deion Sanders, Tony Dorsett, Willie Mays)

  20. RODNEY 8 August, 2012 at 20:34

    Chris, Reggie is a 1st class D-bag! When I was around 12 or 13 I used to get auto’s at hotel next to Arlington stadium. This guy would walk around and treat you like he owned you and that you should be lucky to be breathing the same air. There is a reason why there are so many stories about this guy, it’s because they’re true. You’re just another notch on his belt.

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