They finally got over the Bum-p. Tristar Productions Inc., has tried unsuccessfully for years to have former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips sign autographs at a show.
He finally agreed.
Phillips was arguably the headline name at Tristar’s 25th annual Collectors Show, held Jan. 21-23 at Reliant Arena in Houston. It was a Luv Ya Blue reunion show, starring Phillips and 21 players, including Earl Campbell, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Dan Pastorini, Robert Brazile, Vernon Perry, Elvin Bethea, Carl Mauck and Kenny Burrough, among others.
“That show was a dream come true for me. I was so excited at that event,” said Tristar President Jeff Rosenberg. “We’ve had so many great superstars at past shows, such as Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Muhammad Ali, but I can honestly say that I was equally or more excited with the Luv Ya Blue reunion – because that’s what I grew up with. That was my team. Those were my heroes, my idols. So, to be in one room with all of those guys, it was awesome. The hair was standing up on my arms; it was super exciting.”
The reunion also featured Gifford Nielsen, Carter Hartwig, John Schuhmacher, David Carter, Andy Dorris, Mike Renfro, Mike Barber, Curley Culp, Willie Alexander, Gregg Bingham, Robert Woods, Ronnie Coleman and Steve Kiner.
“Watching the fans meet their heroes, get their autographs was exciting,” said Rosenberg, who also was asking for autographs. He had Luv Ya Blue members sign programs and media guides, among other collectibles.
“I got a bunch of autographs for my personal collection, which is rare,” he said.
Heck, many of the Luv Ya Blue members were getting autographs from each other, or just re-uniting with long lost friends.
Take, for instance, Steve Kiner, who flew into Houston from Atlanta for the show. He hugged Campbell when they spotted each other. They had not seen one another in about 20 years.
Kiner said the entire trip was worth it in just getting that hug.
The show also featured a singing performance by Mack Hayes.
“I had a ball performing at the 25th annual Tristar ‘Luv Ya Blue’ Reunion at the Reliant Arena,” Hayes wrote afterward on his website. “Absolutely amazing turnout of faithful, lifelong fans for a great group of guys and a very special moment in time 30 years ago. Very proud to be a tiny part of it all. Many thanks to all the Tristar folks!”
The show also featured Randy White, Gordie Howe, Ken Stabler and Dave Casper, plus a Sunday filled with baseball legends, such as “Goose” Gossage, Robin Yount, Whitey Ford, Ryne Sandberg and Craig Biggio, among others.
“It was a very good show; we were very pleased. The collectors seemed very happy, and so did the dealers,” Rosenberg said. “And it definitely was very special to have Bum.
“This was a very special 25th annual show. We’re very fortunate to do this for that long.”
Others signing autographs at the three-day show included Jameson Taillon, Doug Cosbie, Arian Foster, Jay Novacek, Mike Munchak, Tony Hill, Bill Bradley, Doug Rader, Jordan Lyles, Aroldis Chapman, Chris Johnson, Jason Castro and Hunter Pence. Plus, TNA Wrestling superstars Jay Lethal and Daffney signed free autographs for those in attendance.
“Overall, it was a very good show,” said Houston-based dealer Rich Gove. “This was my biggest Tristar show in three-to-five years.”
Gove had particular success with a blowout of baseball commons from the late-1950s through the mid-1970s. He started with five 5,000-count boxes and by the end of the show had less than two boxes remaining.
Plus, Gove noted shockingly strong sales for 1969-70 and 1970-71 basketball.
“The show seemed bigger than usual,” Gove said. “The one thing I was really surprised that did not sell well at this show was the older, raw football from 1957-72.”
Gove noted strong interest, as expected, in Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax and Hank Aaron.
Gove added that, despite his recent Hall of Fame announcement, there was no interest in Bert Blyleven rookie cards, as opposed to Jim Rice cards, which sold very well.
Texas-based dealer Carl Gerjes said the show attracted, “a huge crowd,” though many seemed most interested in buying tickets for the autograph-signing guests.
Gerjes said the best-selling current card release was Bowman Sterling Football ($40 per pack) and Topps Triple Threads Baseball.