By Marty Zajac
With the holiday season in the rearview mirror and the winter season in full swing, it’s no surprise that JP’s Sports and Rock Solid Promotions’ (JPRS) Winter Extravaganza show was a destination many collectors had marked on their calendars.
Dreading the upcoming lull between football and baseball season, collectors and sports fans demonstrated an eagerness for the spring to arrive and the baseball/football cycle to begin anew. The annual three-day show held at the Westchester County Center on Central Avenue in White Plains, N.Y., was abuzz with action the weekend of Jan. 17-19, as record attendance filed through the doors and filled the show’s floors, which boasted more than 300 dealer tables.
Dealers reported strong customer traffic, brisk sales and steady profits throughout the weekend, as the superb autograph guest lineup likely helped draw both new and old attendees to the show.
As usual, JPRS provided collectors with everything they could need to aid in their collecting forays. Several of the hobby’s industry leaders were in attendance, including James Spence Authentication (JSA), offering on-site authentication of autographed memorabilia, as well as its traditional $6 basic COA for any item signed at the show that weekend.
Sportscard Guaranty (SGC) offered on-site card grading and encapsulation and brought along the company’s recently launched autograph authentication service to the show.
Beckett Grading Service (BGS) offered its on-site “Raw Card Review” and accepted submissions for card grading and encapsulation. Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) provided on-site authentication of signed pieces, as well as accepted submissions for card grading and encapsulation. Also in attendance were several of the top sports and Americana memorabilia auction houses – Huggins and Scott, Heritage Auctions and Goodwin and Co. – accepting consignments and displaying some of the goodies that will be up for grabs in their next few auctions.
For this writer and collector, the perks provided by the show’s promoters are very much worth the price of admission. On Saturday, autograph guests appearing included late 1970s New York Yankees Dave Rajsich, Larry McCall and Ken Clay, each of whom were part of JPRS’s free autograph guest promotion, where each person who walked through the show’s door would leave with three autographs for just the price of admission (which was $8).
In addition to the free guests, the promoters at JPRS gave something back to the collectors on Saturday, giving away a free Derek Jeter MVP Crystal baseball card to the first 200 people who entered the show (and braved the awful weather) after 11 a.m.
JPRS also showed its philanthropic and community awareness side by extending an invitation to the non-profit community volunteer group The Guardian Angels, opening its doors to some of the young and underprivileged sports fans who may not have the means to attend a sports card and memorabilia show. Promoters Jim Ryan and Brian Coppola gave those kids special guest privileges. It’s great to know that there are times (and people) within our hobby when it’s not always about the bottom line – it’s about creating memorable experiences.
Saturday’s autograph guest lineup also included 1982 American League batting champ Willie Wilson, 300-save club member Jason Isringhausen, New York Mets’ top prospect Matt den Dekker and fan favorite Rusty Staub. The headliners featured Hall of Fame 3,000-hit club member Wade Boggs and Chicago Bears legend and NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers.
Regarding Sayers, shortly after the show, JPRS in conjunction with MAB Celebrity Services, announced that the “Kansas Comet” has agreed to a multi-show appearance agreement, so those who missed Sayers at the Winter Extravaganza needn’t fear, as they will have an opportunity to meet the football great at more shows in the near future.
The autograph guest lineup was just as strong on Sunday, featuring two-time AL Cy Young winner – and the last 30-game winner – Denny McLain, and two-time National League home run champ Dave Kingman as the show’s free autograph guests.
The paid autograph lineup included 1986 World Series competitors Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner, complete with a discounted “super ticket” that was available for fans looking to create dual-signed mementos of the famous (or infamous, depending on your allegiance) play in the 1986 Fall Classic.
Additional paid guests included 1967 National League MVP and Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda and 1974 National League MVP Steve Garvey, along with Sunday’s headline guest, four-time National League Cy Young and 300-game winner Steve Carlton.
Sunday also featured New York Yankees up-and-comers Preston Claiborne and J.R. Murphy, who was the last catcher to receive a pitch thrown by the legendary Mariano Rivera.
Speaking of Rivera, JPRS announced that Mariano Rivera will be appearing in a public signing format at its March Madness Show at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y., the weekend of March 21-23, courtesy of Steiner Sports.
It’s been a long time since the tri-state area had a player appearing to sign autographs to the public with as high a profile as Rivera, so this writer is really looking forward to the opportunity to meet the baseball legend.
Also scheduled to appear are former National League Rookies of the Year Benito Santiago and Bob Horner, Chicago White Sox great Ozzie Guillen, former Yankee general manager Bob Watson, 1969 “Amazin’ Mets” Ed Kranepool and Jerry Grote and former Yankees Ruben Sierra and Horace Clarke.
The promoters at JPRS indicated there are more guests in the works. Get the latest details on this show, and every upcoming JPRS event, at nyshows.org, or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/JPsSports.
Marty Zajac is a freelance contributor to SCD.