Hall of Famer Willie Mays was the big draw at Tristar’s Collectibles Showcase at the Cow Palace in San Francisco on May 1-3, even with an asking price of $300-$700 per item. “I thought it went well; I thought he did a nice job. I haven’t worked with him in a long time, but I thought he did a really nice job,” said Tristar Vice President Bobby Mintz. “I found him to be fine; I didn’t have a problem with him the whole time. We didn’t hear a lot of negativity from the public once the appearance was over. I want to invite him to future shows.”
However, his appearance wasn’t all smooth sailing. A notorious tough signature to obtain, mostly because of Mays disdain for signing, a few rumble strips did pop up at the show, as Mays rejected five items during his appearance, Mintz said. He told one fan he would not sign a guitar that was signed by other former Giants without an additional donation to his charity. He told another fan that he would only sign the person’s one-of-a-kind item with an additional $1,000 donation to Mays’ charitable foundation – after the fan had already paid $700 for the autograph tickets. Ultimately, the collector did pony up the $1,700 and Mays signed the item.
“They were unique items that didn’t fall into that ‘collectibles’ category,” Mintz said of the items Mays rejected. “The player has the right to reject any item; that’s with all players at our shows. Willie Mays certainly is a lot more discerning about where he puts his autograph.
“He might have an overall bad reputation (in the hobby), but based on his pre-show reputation, I thought things went better than I expected,” Mintz concluded.
Mays, who had been absent from the show circuit for about 10 years, did an appearance in New York last September and in Philadelphia earlier this year. He’ll also attend the FansEdge Sports Spectacular in Chicago in June.
Mintz said approximately 4,500 people attended the three-day show. Jim Brown had to cancel his signing appearance. Other signers at the show included Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson, Ron Yary, Eric Dickerson, Eddie Murray, Randy Johnson, Tim Lincecum, Dave Stewart and Dave Henderson.
Mintz also said that Tristar is trying to land a big guest for The National in Cleveland – LeBron James. Tristar is in charge of the autograph pavilion for the event.
“The Cavaliers are having a great year, so wouldn’t it be great to have LeBron (James) there?” Mintz said. “We’ve contacted Upper Deck, and we now are at the discussion stage. It would be kind of neat. He certainly would add a lot to the event.”
The National is slated for July 29-Aug. 2. Mintz said they are trying to get Mays to attend that event as well.