Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2015 Tristar National Sports Collectors Convention

*Please note that this will be the longest blog post that I have ever written. It will include roughly twenty-five photos and likely over a couple thousand words, so please keep that in mind as you start reading. If you've have time to kill and enjoy hearing stories about different ballparks and autographs, then enjoy!*

This year I was able to attend the 2015 Tristar National Sports Collectors Convention (NSCC) in Chicago, Illinois. Attending the National has been something on my autograph bucket list for years, and since Chicago is as far west as the convention will come over the next several years, I figured that 2015 would be the year to go.

On top of attending the National, I was able to visit four different Major League ballparks in and around the Chicago area. I've decided to post the pictures of those separately instead of mixing them in with all of the autographs.

Wrigley Field was the first ballpark that I visited, and aside from the traffic getting there, the experience was great. I say the experience was great because that's exactly what is was. The ballpark itself isn't overwhelming, but the fans, the bleacher seats, and all of the t-shirt and food vendors along the street make it awesome.

Busch Stadium in St. Louis was by far my favorite ballpark that I visited. Ever since I got into baseball, the Cardinals have been the team that I have rooted for in the National League. If you ask me which baseball team I am a fan of, I'll say the Angels, but in reality there are four or five teams that I root for every year. I personally think that's just part of being a baseball fan. Anyways, if you ever attend Busch Stadium make sure to check out the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum at the Ballpark Village. Also, don't sell yourself short and buy tickets anywhere other than in the sections that have access to "Club Redbird".

Miller Park in Milwaukee was a lot of fun to visit. It's a very interesting stadium and unlike any that I've ever visited. There are a lot of neat "little" things that you notice around the ballpark. If Busch Stadium wasn't so damn beautiful, this would've easily been my favorite ballpark from the trip.

The fourth and final ballpark that I visited was US Cellular Field. Overall the "Cell" was a lot nicer than expected. I've heard some pretty bad stories about the ballpark being ugly and plain, but I actually really enjoyed watching a game there.

It probably didn't hurt either that it was Scott Podsednik bobblehead night at the ballpark. The bobblehead is actually huge compared to my other SGA ones, and even included the 2005 World Series patch on the sleeve of the jersey.

Ballparks and bobbleheads aside, the actual point of this post is the NSCC. The show itself was huge and would likely be heaven for some other bloggers that I know, but for me it was mainly about the autographs. I will say this, you can't go to the National without being prepared to spend money. I won't say exactly how much I spent, but it did makes months of saving to afford as many autograph as I did. I used some of that money to purchase a VIP package from Tristar. The package included admission all five days and also came with some cool, limited edition cards from different card companies.

The VIP package also came with a bunch of "free" autograph tickets for the some of the VIP guests. I ended up not using a few of the autograph tickets, but here are some of the ones that I did use:

Rollie Fingers was nice as always and signed a ball with "HOF 92" for me.

Bret Saberhagen has cancelled his last few autograph appearances in California. I was able to get him in person at the Angels/Royals playoff game last year, but this was my first sit down signature from him.

Pierre Pilote was the only hockey autograph that I got. I had originally planned on getting autographs from a few other Blackhawk legends but had to cut some costs after picking up an item that I'll show later on. Still, a 3x Norris winner and HOF inductee isn't too bad.

Cecil Cooper was very business-like while signing but still autographed a ROMLB with "5x All-star".

Todd Hollandsworth was one of the main reasons why I bought the VIP package. His name may not sound familiar to people outside of Southern-California, but Hollandsworth was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1996 for the Dodgers, and hasn't done and autograph signing in California in years.

Lem Barney was extremely nice, however his line was extremely long as well. I had asked him to put "ROY 67" and he also included "HOF 92", so it was well worth the wait.

Dontrelle Willis' line was also very long. I still remember when Willis was expected to be the next star pitcher for the Marlins and eventually the Tigers. Things never fully panned out for him but I was still glad to get him on a ball with "NL ROY 03".

Nate Archibald was also a part of the VIP package. I'm not a huge basketball collector outside of the Clippers and marquee players, so I had him sign a baseball with "HOF 92". He also added his nickname "Tiny" in all of his autographs.

My final VIP autograph came from Maury Wills. Wills has been a name that has been mentioned on this blog many times before. I have gotten his autographs many times but decided to get one last ROMLB with "NL MVP 62" on it.

Those were all of the autographs that came along with the VIP package. It's really a good purchase if you are planning on attending four or all five days of the show. One of the more random autographs not included on the VIP list came from the Rudy Ruettinger. Ruettinger was signing autographs at the Steiner booth for a $20 purchase. I ended up buying a Notre Dame mini helmet for $25 and got Rudy to sign it along with the famous motto "Play like a champion today".

After getting Rudy I returned back to the autograph lines and got the "Ironman", Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken is one of the classiest athletes in all of sports and was the only athlete to take a posed photo with every person who bought an autograph ticket at no additional cost. I got my ball autographed with "HOF 2007" and then got my picture taken with Cal.

After getting Cal I made my way over to the Randy Johnson line. Johnson has always been one of my favorite pitchers of all-time, so it was pretty cool to meet the Big Unit in person.

A last minute addition to the show was Luis Aparicio. By Last minute, I literally mean last minute. Aparicio was added the morning before he was scheduled to appear and I knew that I needed to get a ball signed to go along with my photo that I got signed back in 2010.

Manny Ramirez was making a rare autograph appearance as well, and let's just say that he has earned a lifetime award for the biggest a-hole that I have ever met. There are too many things to talk about, but let's just say that if you agree to do a sit down autograph signing and are getting paid $25,000 to sign your name for two hours, don't ruin people's items by signing in the wrong spot or writing literally an "M" and calling it an autograph. I saw too many people walk away with ruined 2004 Red Sox team pieces because he ignored them their request and/or gave an horrible autograph. Also, don't get up and leave when there are still people in line who already pre-paid for your autograph. I guess that's just "Manny being Manny", and ironically he refused to sign that at this signing. I got pretty lucky and was able to come away with one of the best Manny autographs from the day, but still shame on Manny for being such an arrogant (fill in the blank).

From the biggest a-hole that I've met to one of the nicer guys in baseball, I was able to get Tom Glavine to sign a HOF ball with "HOF 2014". Glavine is the literally the opposite of Ramirez in every way possible, and I couldn't be happier to say that.

These final two pieces were by far my favorite from the show. I've tried hard to pick one that stands out over the other, but I just can't. The first piece is an 11x14 photo signed by two of the greatest players in MLB history, Brooks and Frank Robinson. I was able to get their autographs on separate days and was extremely happy with the way it turned out. It's truly a legendary piece for my collection.

The second piece is signed by one of the newest members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, John Smoltz. I was able to pick up an authentic Atlanta Braves jersey of Smoltz from one of the dealers at the show and was able to get him to sign it a couple of days later.

That concludes what was the longest recap in this blog's history. Overall the National Sports Collectors Convention and Chicago treated me very well, and I highly recommend it to any collector. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Corey Perry Game Used Skates


I was able to pick up a pair of Corey Perry game used and autographed skates at the Anaheim Ducks' recent team equipment sale. The sale had everything from new and game used shoulder pads to sticks and even goalie equipment. I ended up spending a bit more than I had originally wanted, but I couldn't pass up a pair of skates from my favorite player as well as a former league MVP and Olympic gold medalist. Both skates are in great condition compared to some others at the sale, there is some wear on the toes but the rest of them look great. Both skates are autographed as well.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Nancy Bea Bobblehead Day!

For all Southern California bobblehead and autograph collectors, there is an event coming up that I encourage you to check out. I don't usually advertise signings on this page, but my friend at Ultimate Pastime Sports Collectibles will be hosting a bobblehead signing with Dodgers organist Nancy Bea on July 25th, 2015. Bea has been the organist for the Dodgers since the 1980's and is probably the second most popular figure in Dodger Stadium history behind Vin Scully. This will be the FIRST and ONLY Nancy Bea bobblehead produced, so don't miss your chance to get a limited edition bobble and get it signed in the same day for a great price.

You can purchase a bobblehead, get it signed, and get a picture with Nancy Bea for a little as $49.99. There is also a Gold VIP package that includes an inscription. To top things off, there will be free food, drinks, and giveaways all day long! It'll be a great event and a chance to help out one of the classiest businessman in our hobby.

You can visit Ultimatepastime.com to pre-order your bobble, or call the number on the flyer above. I will also place a link the the flyer above the "Blog Archive" on the right side of the screen for future reference.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Angels vs. Yankees: 6/29-6/30

The New York Yankees rolled into town for their first and only season match-up against the Angels. Just like in 2013 when Mariano Rivera was on his "farewell tour", or 2014 when Derek Jeter was on a similar tour, all eyes were focused on one player, and that was Alex Rodriguez who was on his "forgiveness tour". A-Rod has been going from city to city all season long and kissing up to the fans after his recent fiasco. Luckily that meant more autographs and a much friendlier A-Rod than in the past.

As usual with the Yankees, there was a giant crowd at batting practice. Mostly everyone in the stadium was waiting for A-Rod to pick his time and place, and when he finally did it was chaotic. I was able to get a good spot a few feet away from the madness and A-Rod eventually worked his way down to where I was waiting. He was switching back and forth between a Sharpie and a ballpoint pen, and I didn't have time to pull anything else out, so I had to settle for an Alex Rodriguez ball signed in Sharpie. Still, I'll take it.

A-Rod signed for a good ten minutes and I was nearly able to get him again before he took off. Luckily he came over to sign again before game two of the series, and I was able to get another good spot. This time I was prepared with both a ball and a card, so when he started running with a Sharpie I stuck out my 2015 Heritage card and got it signed.

As you can see, I was able to get a hand full of other Yankees throughout the series, including Chase Headley, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, and Garrett Jones. Normally I'd be happy walking away with one or two autographs a day when the Yanks are in town, so all-in-all it was a good series.

My final autograph came from Bengie Molina who was at the stadium to sign his new book "Molina". I had missed out on his last few book signings in the area so I decided to finally buy the book and get it signed. It came out great.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Angels vs. Padres: 5/25/15

It has been a while since my last post, but that hasn't stopped me from attending several Angels games over the past few weeks. One of those games came against the new look San Diego Padres. Since I have yet to go to any games in San Diego this season, this was my first real chance to get some of the new(er) Padres. Lucky for me, game one of the series happened to fall on Memorial Day, so I had the opportunity to graph all day without school interfering.

Starting with the cards, I was able to get Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy x2, Jedd Gyorko, James Shields, Yonder Alonso, Cory Spangenberg, and Justin Upton x2.

I was also able to get Shields on a ROMLB with the "Big Game" inscription. I never had great luck with Shields as a Ray or a Royal, but this year he was extremely nice and made sure that he had signed for everyone before finishing.

The final and arguably best autograph I got came from All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel used to be one of the friendliest players in baseball, but this year he was anything but. After a few failed attempts I was finally able to get Kimbrel on my 2012 All-Star baseball.

Overall it was a successful day and, so far, one of my best this season. A shoutout to everyone at the ballpark and thanks for reading!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Angels Fiesta: 5/9/15

The Angels hosted their annual Fiesta before Saturday evening's game against the Houston Astros. The Fiesta is basically the Angels version of a "fan fest" since the organization has decided that a few thousand is too much to spend on fans when you're already spending $200 million on player salaries. I really wish that the Angels would put something together like the Dodgers do in the offseason, or even the Padres, but in Arte Moreno's own words, "We're not the Dodgers". I guess that means we can't have nice things like them either.

On a more positive note, this year's Fiesta was much better than last year's. In fact, I think last year's event was so terrible that it kept a lot of fans away since it was not overly crowded like in past years. The Angels also decided to have their annual yard sale as part of the Fiesta, which was not announced until the last minute. Luckily I had some extra cash on me so that was my first stop upon entering. I ended up finding a few boxes of brand new, autographed Raul Ibanez Marucci bats. For $50 I couldn't pass up snagging at least one.

The yard sale had some other fairly nice game used stuff from past Angels players and even a few players from other teams. My friend Spencer was able to pick up Raul Ibanez and Bobby Abreu game used jerseys, while my other friend was able to get a Fernando Rodney game used jersey with the 2010 All-Star Game patch. I also noticed bats used by Leonys Martin, Mark Trumbo, and Corey Dickerson. My friend Marc ended up finding the best hidden gem of the day, a Paul Konerko game used bat that was thrown in a pile with Andrew Romine and Tommy Field bats.

After paying for the bat I made a dart to the autograph lines where the players had already started signing. The first, and only, group of current players signing was made up of Kole Calhoun, Garrett Richards, Mike Morin, and Johnny Giovatella. I only needed Calhoun and Richards so I hopped in Kole's line first since it was extremely short.

I then went over to Richards' line was was surprisingly short as well. I think that most of the fans still weren't at the Fiesta or were caught up at the yard sale since the autograph session started right when the event started. Luckily for me I was able to get through the Richards line in a few minutes and added him to my 2015 team ball (bottom-right).

It's a very nice start, but still a long, long way to go.

I still had a few minutes to spare before the autograph session ended, so I decided to go over to the final line for Alfredo Griffin who was signing with Giovatella. I kind of wish that I had something for Giovatella to sign since the line was so short, but unfortunately I didn't bring any cards along with me. I was able to get the notoriously difficult Alfredo to sign a ball with "ROY 79".

After the players finished signing it was announced that there would be a group of alumni signing in another hour. We were later told that the alumni would be Adam Kennedy, Mark Langston, and HOF'er Rod Carew. At that point my only goal was to get Carew, and I ended up picking the correct line for him. The handlers made a very clear "no inscriptions" rule, but I was still happy to get Carew on another ROMLB.

Afterwards I headed into the stadium for the Astros pregame. Houston isn't necessarily a star studded team, so I just brought along some cards and got whoever I could to sign them.

Overall it was a solid day with a few nice pick ups. I was also able to snag four of these Albert Pujols bobblehead for $10 total at the yard sale but haven't taken them out of the box to take photographs yet:

If any bobblehead collectors are interested in buying and/or possibly trading for one, please email me. Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Larry Robinson: 5/1/15

Hockey legend Larry Robinson was signing autographs at Play It Again Sports in Torrance on Friday night. It's rare to see a hockey signing in Southern California, and even more rare to see a hockey HOF'er signing autographs, so I had been looking forward to the even for a while.

On my way to the signing I decided to drop by Loan Mart Field in Rancho to get Kenley Jansen on a rehab assignment with the Quakes. After a while of waiting Jansen finally showed up and knocked out a few autographs. Luckily I was one of them and was able to get my 2014 Heritage signed.

After getting Jansen I made my way out to Torrance for the Robinson signing. I showed up several minutes in to the signing but luckily the line wasn't too bad. In total I was able to get four things signed, three with "HOF 95" and one personalized to me.

A shoutout to Scottie and Spencer who were both at the event. For those of you who spent $100 on the Mayweather-Pacquio fight on Saturday, I'm sorry for your loss. Thanks for reading!