Jeter an All-Star signer, too

March 14 Entry – Derek Jeter and Phil Hughes

After the long, strange Ft. Myers trips were over, we had a huge Giants event out in Massapequa. We actually have another Giants signing out at the Steiner Sports store, so I will be recapping everything in a massive Giants blog later. With that said, I will move on to my next Florida trip … Tampa.

Tuesday afternoon I flew down to Tampa from JFK. It amazes me how much time I have spent at the Jet Blue terminal at Kennedy over the past few weeks … and there are still more trips to come. Anyway, I arrived in Tampa at about 8 o’clock Tuesday evening. I began setting up for two signings Wednesday morning. The first was to be with the Yankees Captain Derek Jeter. I had not seen Derek in quite some time and was looking forward to catching up with him. I have known Jeter for close to five years and always enjoy hanging with him. He seems as excited as ever for the upcoming season. DJ popped in at about 11:30 a.m. and banged out the entire signing in about an hour and a half. He still remains one of the fastest signers ever but also boasts one of the most consistent signatures … very strong. Probably the most robust new item that was signed was the 2008 home Yankee jersey. It has both the All-Star and final-year patch on it. It is sure to become a major staple of our strong Derek Jeter Collection.

Right after Derek was finished, Phil Hughes walked in. Hughes seems primed for a big, big year. He showed glimpses of greatness last season and is sure to win his share of big games in 2008. This kid is the real deal and a must-have for any serious Yankees collector. Phil finished his small signing in no time, and I began packing up.

It took me most of the day to prep all the items to ship back to New York. I finally got done about 7 that night.
That brings me to yesterday, when I flew right back to JFK (Jet Blue … Blue Parking 4 … again).

We have a ton going on in the next week (and I will really try to stay on the ball and do entries daily). Tomorrow we have appearances with Justin Tuck, Kawika Mitchell, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. Then on Sunday, I am flying out to Dallas for a signing with Mr. Triple Double, Jason Kidd. Then right from Dallas, I am going back to Tampa for more signings.

March 14 Entry – David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie

OK, so I know I have been weak of late. I have been flying back and forth to Florida the past few weeks and have definitely neglected my blog duties. I have been Benitez … not Mariano. Well, with that admission noted, I am going to try to redeem myself today and get you all up to speed.
Two weeks ago, I flew down to Ft. Myers (spring training home of the Red Sox) for two signings (that was actually the first of two Ft. Myers trips, both of which I will document here).

The first signing was with rookie phenom Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is the Red Sox shortstop of the future. He is tearing up the minor leagues and is on the fast track to the show. He will undoubtedly be Dustin Pedroia’s double-play partner for many years to come.

This, being our first signing with the kid, was a small session. Jed autographed a small amount of MLB baseballs, and we are extremely excited to be able to offer a special two-ball set (Jed and Dustin). After Jed finished, I began setting up for Big Papi David Ortiz. David arrived several hours later, and we immediately began our marathon signing. Over the course of three hours, David signed 2004 World Series balls, 2007 World Series balls, jerseys and bats. As always, the room was a complete mess after the signing. It is very difficult to keep things in order when on your own. It took me hours to get everything back in order. I shipped much of the product back to New York and held the balance of blank product for our next signing, which was just a few days away.

The next day I hopped on the first flight back to New York and began getting ready for our “Core of the Four” Islanders team event. I will be getting into the whole Islanders thing in about a week or so as we get closer to completing the pieces. Overall, the event was a huge success … more to come on this. Anyway, the Isles event was on a Sunday, and the very next day, I flew right back down to Ft. Myers for another signing with Big Papi. This Ortiz signing was actually a lot easier than the first. The bulk of this session was photos, which take a lot less time to pack up. We focused on a few current images, but mostly the strong classic shots from 2004. This signing took half as much time, so this was a lot more in and out than the first. It was déjá vu again as I took the same flight back to JFK the next day.

March 16 Entry – Kawika Mitchell
and Justin Tuck

Yesterday was our appearance at the Steiner Sports Store with two key members of the Giants Championship team – Justin Tuck and Kawika Mitchell. The day began up at our office, where both Justin and Kawika signed the bulk of their private items. We have already began a few new multi-signed projects, and this gave us an awesome opportunity to really get these going. Aside from a few projects, Tuck also autographed some really strong Notre Dame photos. Due to our relationship with the school, we are able to secure some of the most robust images you have ever seen … can’t wait for all to check out the Tuck photos.

After leaving the office, we headed straight over to the mall for the noon appearance. There was already a huge line awaiting the two heroes, and they didn’t disappoint. Justin invited kids behind the table for photos and kidded adults about their jersey of choice (strongest line was to a guy wearing an Osi jersey … Justin told him to add 2 to the first digit and drop 1 on the second!).

Mitchell has just signed a huge deal with the Bills and, much to my surprise, all the fans congratulated him on it and wished him all the best. He is a great player and will flourish in that system up there. The line was finally over at 2 p.m. on the dot, and we were able to get the guys out of there right on time. This was the second time I had met Tuck, and (you know I never say this) I really recommend you all come out for the next appearance with him. He is one of the most personable athletes you will ever encounter.

Later today I am flying out to Dallas for tomorrow’s private signing with Mr. Triple Double, Jason Kidd.

For more information on Eric and his blog, visit www.SteinerSports.com and the Steiner Marketplace at www.SteinerMarketplace.com.

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