Randy Cook was all smiles after Tristar Productions’ 15th annual Bay Area Classic, held May 20-22 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Calif.
He was all smiles mainly because of two sales.
The first went to a mother/son combo; the other was a father/daughter combo.
“I saw quite a few parents at the show, bringing their kids. That’s great for the hobby,” said Cook, who is based in Kansas City. “It was special to see kids attending the show with their parents.”
The show featured about 25 autograph signers, most notable among the group were members of the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants, including Dan Runzler (pictured), Cody Ross, Madison Bumgarner and Pablo Sandoval, among others. The all-baseball show also featured autographing appearances by Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Tony Perez, Rickey Henderson and others.
The three-day show also featured autographing appearances by Aaron Rowand, Freddy Sanchez, Will Clark, Whitey Herzog, Joe Morgan and Sergio Romo, among others. About 4,500 people attended the weekend show.
“I thought this show was better than the last two San Francisco shows Tristar has produced,” Cook said. “I was really impressed with the people attending. Many wanted to know more, learn more about the cards, especially many of the kids attending. And it was those same children who led to sales of at least three Babe Ruth cards, which was pretty surprising, but great to see.”
Texas-based vintage card dealer Rich Gove said the San Francisco show was solid and definitely better than his pre-show expectations. He noted exceptionally strong sales of commons in Excellent or better condition. Gove also witnessed strong sales of starter sets, which he put together just for the weekend.
Gove said cards from 1961, ’63, ’67, ’70 and ’71 were particularly popular in San Francisco.
Gove also noted more basketball card sales at the San Francisco show than most past Bay Area shows. Popular hoops stars included Pete Maravich and Willis Reed.
Gove said his football sales were limited to mostly Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, naturally. And surprisingly, Gove said that he sold no Mickey Mantle cards at the San Francisco show, the first time that has happened in a long time.
Gove said attendance on Saturday was extremely busy, thanks to the autograph lineup.
“It was a good overall show,” added Roger Neufeldt of Oklahoma-based Sports Memories, which specializes in vintage cards and memorabilia. “The buying was fabulous; the selling was good, steady.”
Neufeldt bought a lot of 1950s cards, including a host of high-grade cards. The set included about 500 cards in Near Mint or better condition which, he said, “isn’t something that happens all the time; you don’t get a lot such as that walking into a show too often.”
The San Francisco show marked Neufeldt’s second May show in California; he set up two weeks previously at a show in Los Angeles – and he noted a strong carry-over of customers from the first show to the Tristar show.
One of the weekend’s best buys for Neufeldt was a 1962 Post Cereal Canadian card of Willie Mays. “It was gorgeous,” Neufeldt said. “I’ve never seen one that nice.”
Neufeldt said weekend sales overall were a bit behind previous San Francisco shows, but sales of 1956 and 1962 high-grade cards were solid.
Naturally, Neufeldt noted strong weekend sales of Willie Mays, along with some obscure McCovey and Marichal cards.
“This show was more like a card show from 10 or 15 years ago, when both buying and selling were really good,” Neufeldt said. “I am definitely glad that I came.”
Robin Lee of California-based Girl-Jocks noted strong San Francisco show sales of Jenny Finch and Danica Patrick. “It was a good show overall,” Lee said.
Giants and A’s
Many of the 2010 Giants were making their first public autograph signing since winning the World Series.
“The show was what we expected – well attended due to the success the Giants had in 2010,” said Tristar’s Bobby Mintz. “We expected the show to be one of the best we have had in San Francisco in five years or so, and it was. All of the Giants’ players were terrific, and we hope they continue to have a great season.”
Bumgarner, Sanchez and Sandoval were, arguably, the most popular Giants at the show. Sanchez and Romo also each were very popular.
“Aaron Rowand could barely walk due to disc problems in his back, yet he was a trooper and still made the appearance, standing up the whole time he was signing since he couldn’t sit,” Mintz said. “Sergio Romo was the most interesting player. A real eccentric personality.”
Mintz said Mays’ appearance was, naturally, a show highlight. “He is one of the biggest baseball names of all-time, and with some of the recent deaths of Hall of Famers, you begin to not take for granted having Willie.”
Tristar officials, and several former Giants, sang Happy Birthday to Mays at the autograph stage, as the Say Hey Kid is now 80.
And of course there was a cake, too.
“That was a moment we won’t forget,” Mintz said.
And the locals certainly haven’t forgotten their 2010 Champs.
“Just the excitement of a championship brought out collectors,” Mintz said. “We experienced the same thing in Boston in 2004. It’s exciting.”
The weekend show also featured, arguably, Oakland’s best former player: stolen base champ Rickey Henderson.
And any past negative reports about how Henderson was/is around fans, well, throw them away.
Clearly, one of the weekend’s biggest surprises was, “how terrific and nice Rickey Henderson was,” Mintz said. “He couldn’t have been a better guest, public or private.”
Henderson also will be appearing at Tristar’s late-June show in Houston and then at the annual National Sports Collectors Convention in August in Chicago.
“He might have been one of our most accommodating and fun guests to ever be around,” Mintz said. “Rickey was awesome, fun, personable, accommodating, on top of his stuff from an inscription standpoint, too.”
Among the guests scheduled to appear, Johnny Bench and Willie McCovey did not attend due to health issues.
So, will Tristar ever return to twice-a-year shows in San Francisco?
“It is always possible; we never say never, yet we will review our shows and see if it makes sense,” Mintz said. “This show had a very strong attendance, and the dealers seemed to have a good experience. I believe they all did well, and, so too, did the collectors, who all seemed to be in a championship mood.”