It was just too easy to justify…How could a Army Officer pass up the chance to fly into John Wayne Airport. Such just happens to be my luck with the site of these years National Sports Collectors Convention in Anaheim, Ca. Troy Kinunen and Dave Bushing flew out early in the week with me not being able to get in until Saturday mid-day. My thoughts where that there would be not much for me to report on, but once again as my wife and kids will attest too…what do I know.
The crowd was solid when I arrived and talk among dealers and collectors was that the showing had been strong all week. The focus of what we do is on the game used items, but the National is about much more than this. In speaking with Cheyrl Goyda of Hunt’s Auctions, she was quick to remark that from an industry standpoint, “this is the one time each year when the community gets together in one place and I have a chance to see people.” I would hope that collectors begin to share this sentiment in an age of E-Bay and On-Line Auctions as there is clearly no substitute for getting and seeing the hobby in action. I asked Cheryl how this auction compared to those in the Midwest and the east coast and she offered that she felt there was more of a four sport balance to events on the west coast versus what seems to remain the staple of baseball heavy shows east of the Mississippi.
This same sentiment was shared by Mike Hefner of Leland’s. I spoke with Mike about the relative merits of one region over another and we both agreed that more of the vintage baseball game used items seem to show up at events in the Midwest and east coast probably because that is where there products entered the market. With respect to other items entering the hobby, Mike shared with me that a collector had brought in a wonderful 1976 Bobby Orr Chicago Blackhawk’s jersey for him to see. This may have been to the fact that Leland’s ran a very a nice selection of Orr items in recent months. This led to an interesting discussion on auction prizes realized versus actual value. The point here being this collector saw what previous Orr jerseys had fetched and may have assumed his will bring a like price. The problem here as in many other cases, is that if the high bidder on the first item is no longer in the Hunt, then the price realized on the subsequent piece may not have the same value.
With respect to value, I found it interesting to see that Dan Walker of the Collectables Insurance Agency was set up. Insuring collectables has often been a topic of conversation for our readers so I thought it would be worth some time to spend talking with Dan. CIA (got to love the initials) was founded in 1966 with a focus on insuring stamp collections. In 1996 they expanded to cover all collectables. Dan’s company sets up at a variety of shows throughout the year and their purpose is two fold; first to get the word about their bususinses and secondly, to learn about the market place and the value of the items they insure. While this is not an endorsement from MEARS, it is worth nothing that you can find out information about these sorts of product lines and services by going to their web site at www.collectinsure.com.
Another surprise find for me at this years national involved spending time marveling at some gorgeous artwork by Steven Holland. His paintings are striking and capture the greats in a manner that reflects them grinding it out in a very real and gritty style. I was speaking with Dana Yarger from Art of the Stars Galleries about how much I liked the work and asked if he could tell me anything about the artist..To my surpsrise, he replied..today is your lucky day, he’s sitting tight there…would you like to talk to him…this was clearly the highlight of the show for me. My first question to Mr. Holland was why do you work they way you do…his simple answer spoke volumes… “I love to pant tough guys…” Mr. Holland had his start in sports art by sketching and painting boxers as he had access to boxing magazines…he expanded his work to include the other sports over the years, whether you know or not, you have seen his work gracing he cover of All Star Game program in recent years. Mr. Holland described his motivation and inspiration in the form of a question to me…He asked me, that when I was a kid, if I played sports and if I ever imagined I was the player..I replied that I did as most youths will echo. He conveyed to me that because of certain physical limitations as a youth, he was never able to do this. His art and its realistic, honest and earthy portrayals provide him this outlet and the entire sports industry should be thankful for this.
The other thing we should be thankful for are for men like John Broggi and Bob Wilke; two of the Nationals promoters who where kind enough to spend some time talking with me about shows present, past and future…They are already working on next years show in Cleveland 1-5 August and I asked them what they thought about the idea of MEARS running a series of seminars in conjunction with this event next year. At first they thought I meant for industry personnel, but I told them my focus was on collectors and sharing information and showing then various things they could do for themselves to enhance their knowledge base and collections. Both thought the idea had merit and have offered to help us organize this. The idea would be to offer collectors something to do during non-show hours. More to follow, but begin to think about what topics you would like us to cover as we have some our own right now.
As Troy has mentioned in a post early last week, we spent most of time talking with collectors and adding research and reference information. Once such item was a 1950’s Hanna Bat Rite bat of Bobby Brown. The barrel end was marked:
This bat featured a hand turned knob and is the third such bat we have seen to go along with gamers of Johnny Mize and Milwaukee Braves great Eddie Mathews.
Speaking of Milwaukee Braves greats, it was a wonderful to see both Dave & Gayle Klug at the show. Dave picked up some very rare business cards of Earl Yerxa…Yes you might ask and reasonable so, who is this? The answer will not be posted to the quiz of the day, but rather conveyed here. Yerxa ran the concessions at old County Stadium. I bring this up to highlight a couple of things. The national still remains an event that people go to network within the hobby and can still be a great source for such rare items as these for team and player collectors.
If your wondering by now where is all the talk about all the great game used stuff…fact of the matter is there was very little compared to what I have seen in years past, other than what they auction houses brought to showcase for upcoming events. Not sure if this has to do with it being a west coast show or not, but cards, autographs and vintage paper where well represented and appeared to rather well. One of the main reasons I came out was actually to take a look at a Babe Ruth jersey that has been consigned to Heritage Auctions. The jersey already has a Dave Bushing letter from the late 1990s, but they wanted to have us look at it because of they feel it has the possibility of being from the 1933 All Star Game. Dave’s letter makes no reference to the All Star attribution nor do we have an opinion on this as an organization at this time. Because of some procedural disagreements, MEARS has decided not to evaluate the piece for Heritage nor take any other retail submissions from them for the remainder of 2006. Should the winning bidder desire us to look at the jersey, we would be more than happy to do so.
All in all, even though this was a quick trip last less than 48 hours, it was well worth the time and effort just to maintain some real contact with the hobby and the people that make it what it is. I would more people will begin thinking about next years show as I know we are. Hope to see you there.
MEARS Auth, LLC