Eric’s blog – The Autograph Handler

Koufax is still King

April 22 – Sandy Koufax
Last week myself and Robert V. headed down to Jupiter, Fla., for a very special signing. This was to be my first autograph session with the legendary Sandy Koufax. As I said in a previous post, Koufax is one of the few heroes that I have (Koufax, Magic, Marley, Jerry, Dylan … those are probably my fave five). Anyway, I went into this one cautiously excited to meet the icon. You never know if one of these guys will live up to your expectations and, even if they are nice, you could always catch them on an off day.

With all that in mind, we began setting up the night before the signing. The next day, Sandy popped in right on time (9:30 a.m.). I was happy to see from the get-go that he was awesome. He was extremely personable, and we even got to talk a little baseball and basketball over the course of the session (most people don’t know this, but Sandy was a strong basketball player who very well could have played in the NBA). Thanks to the help of Robert, basically everything was ready to ship by the time the signing was complete. Everyone has no idea how much of an assist that is, as you have all read about my three- to four-hour horror show pack-ups … thanks, Rich.

With all that done, we were thankfully able to fly back late that night and were ready to roll bright and early Friday at the office. Aside from some good conversation, I was able to walk away from the signing with some ridiculously strong product. When building a robust product line around any baseball player (let alone arguably the greatest pitcher of all time … at least over any six-season span), the key piece is simply a baseball. Sandy autographed a handful of MLB baseballs and even inscribed a few. These special inscription balls are as rare as can be … and very strong. Aside from the balls, Sandy also signed Dodgers pitching rubbers (which came out unbelievable), jerseys and some amazing photos (including the classic four-ball image and the no-hitter vs. Mets scoreboard shot!). We are beyond excited about our relationship with Koufax, as they guy is a must-have for any collector. There is minimal stuff out there, so I do recommend (which, as you know, I rarely do) picking up a piece or two … or three.

April 22 – Plaxico Burress
On Sunday, we had a major public signing at Last Licks Massapequa with none other than No. 17 Plaxico Burress. Plax, for any of you that have been hibernating since Feb. 1, made the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Since then, he has become one of our exclusives and has been signing some unbelievable product, as well as our team pieces.

Sunday, surprisingly enough though, was the first time Plax had signed in public at one of our stores.

There was a nice crowd on hand as Burress has become a real fan favorite and a cult hero here. I arrived at the store before 9 a.m. and there were already people on line. Supposedly the first person was there before 8 a.m. (for a noon appearance) … you gotta really want it to show up that early (which is the great thing about Giants fans).

Anyway, Plax showed up a little bit early to knock out some items in private. We have an unbelievably strong photo of the Super Bowl touchdown, and Burress signed a decent amount in both 8-by-10 and 16-by-20. We started the public right on time and for a quiet guy, Plax really seemed to love talking with the fans. I saw a lot of the same faces that have been at our stores over the past two months for Giants signings. A ton of people have started their own team pieces and are taking great pride in seeing them through. With that in mind, here are a few random Giants thoughts to close out this entry.

Michael Strahan was slated to sign at Last Licks Thornwood on April 26. For those of you who have yet to meet Michael, he one of the nicest athletes you will ever meet (not to mention a sure Hall of Famer and a vital autograph to have).

I recently read Ernie Accorsi’s book. It has an entire chapter on Plaxico and how he coveted him as a free agent. Accorsi describes him as one of the most special receivers in recent memory (which he definitely proved this season and throughout the playoffs). The book is awesome, as it also focuses a lot on the strong Draft Day trade and signing of Eli Manning.

Lastly (speaking of Eli), I just wanted to congratulate Eli on his recent wedding (the guy has had some run over the past two months!).

We are now full swing into baseball (and the NBA playoffs … Gasol is a beast!), so there will be a lot more Mets/Yankees talk as we approach May.

Check back for a preview of a busy two-week stretch.
April 22 – Cleon Jones, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman
Last Saturday was our public appearance at the Steiner Sports Store with Mets legends Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones and Jerry Koosman. I have always enjoyed hanging with these three. Cleon and I have a mutual friend in Hank Aaron (they know each other from growing up in Mobile, Ala.), so we always have a lot to talk about. We have had this trio sign several times at our stores over the past few years and it never ceases to amaze me that they still get a strong turnout.

As always, Tom, Cleon and Jerry were unreal with their fans, taking photos and giving every customer a good amount of face time. What was best about this particular appearance (and the private signings that followed) was the introduction of some major new pieces to our Mets product line. Both Cleon and Jerry autographed Shea Stadium commemorative baseballs (Cleon even signed some with the “Last Out” inscription … very strong!), and Tom signed a handful of Shea Stadium commemorative home plates with some special inscriptions. These limited pieces will be available shortly on the site.
I am really looking forward to upcoming signings with Billy Wagner and John Maine, as they will be signing these special balls and home plates.

Also, I tried something a little different with the home plates and some pitching rubbers that Tom and Jerry signed – an orange paint marker. I never loved the way a replica plate or rubber looks signed in black or blue. It’s OK (I like it, don’t love it, though), so with that in mind, I got almost all these equipment pieces signed in Mets orange. They came out surprisingly robust! Be sure to check these items out on the site.

Check back again for a recap of Sunday’s Plaxico Burress appearance.

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