In the days following the latest Pittsburgh Spring Classic Sports Memorabilia Show in May, Main Line Autographs LLC announced it had purchased the show from J. Paul Sports Promotions.
We announced the news in the June 15 issue of SCD, but I thought we needed to hear from Jeff Stogner, who ran the show for 23 years and has become a mainstay in this hobby. I also got in touch with Jim DiCandilo, vice president of Main Line Autographs, to see what their plans are for the future of the show.
Over the years as his “real” job, Stogner has worked in the financial industry. He recently signed a long-term contract with a different financial services firm and felt their faith in him should be rewarded with his full-time presence.
“It is bittersweet to exit the sports business. I have made many friends,” Stogner said. “We have received nice letters from local show-goers after every show, thanking us for running the show and bringing their heroes home.”
Although there were other interested parties, Stogner said he approached Main Line Autographs about taking over the show.
“I have known Jim and Mike DiCandilo for more than 20 years,” he said. “We have always had a friendly and symbiotic relationship, and I thought that the show would fit in well with their core business. I felt that they would continue the show much the same as we ended it. After 34 shows and 23 years at the Pittsburgh location, we had smoothed over most of the rough edges. I have agreed to help them in the transition over the next year.
“I never won a World Series or a Super Bowl, so this is my legacy. I want very much for them to succeed and keep the show going strong.”
Jim DiCandilo, who has been in the memorabilia business for 32 years, also viewed the Pittsburgh show as a good fit to Main Line Autographs, which touts more than 100,000 autographs in its inventory and attends numerous shows each year across the country.
“We had heard a lot of compliments about Jeff’s show over the years, including compliments from us,” DiCandilo said. “We thought Jeff had done a great job. We’d just like to continue with that. I think the hobby needs that. I think the hobby needs more shows. It’s a collector show, a vintage show, a show that brings in the auction houses, has new cards and has autograph guests. I think it’s a show that is needed, and we hope to continue it for a while.”
DiCandilo said the show will remain at its location at Robert Morris University. In fact, most aspects of the show will stay the same, including table fees, and admission price.
The only changes DiCandilo mentioned were adding a bit more national flavor to the autograph guests, including a few Hall of Famers from various sports. In that vein, DiCandilo wants to keep autograph prices reasonable, as the show has done in the past. He hopes to have some announcements on guests in three to six months.
Having produced 34 shows over 23 years, Stogner has plenty of memories.
“What I will remember most about our promotions are the reunion shows – a lot of work, but satisfying when everything turns out as planned,” Stogner said. “Although we hosted reunions with the Yankees, Orioles, Senators, Steelers, 1971 Pirates and 1979 Pirates, my favorite reunions were with the 1960 Pirates.
“Our initial show in Pittsburgh in October 1990 celebrated the 30th reunion of the 1960 Championship team. We had such a good time that we did the 40th in 2000 and 50th in 2010. Of all the groups that we hosted, these fellows were my absolute favorites. All gentlemen. Not a bad guy in the bunch.”
Stogner said the last two autograph guests at the May show were Elroy Face and Dick Groat, which was very fitting considering the show’s history.
“They were the two who originally met with us early in 1990 and were instrumental in getting the initial show off the ground,” he said.
Stogner, who also sold many autographed pieces through J. Paul Sports Promotions, still has inventory to sell, offered now at deep discounts. Those interested can contact Stogner at (845) 855-0632; via mail at J. Paul Sports, P.O. Box 279, Holmes, NY 12531; or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an inventory list. Items are also available at the J. Paul Sports Promotions Inc. eBay store. Stogner will also set up at booth No. 602 at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, Aug. 1-5.