By Ross Forman
Johnny Bench wore a white baseball hat during his autograph signing session at the 20th annual San Francisco Collectors Show from Tristar Production Inc., held April 8-10 at the Cow Palace. In the middle of Bench’s hat was a small yellow diagram of the United States, with a red golf flag.
Clearly, Bench was supporting The Masters golf tournament while 100-plus fans walked up to the Baseball Hall of Fame catcher seeking a signature.
Inches away from Bench’s left hand, perfectly angled for his viewing pleasure, was Bench’s iPad. He signed and glanced at The Masters. He signed another signature, watched another stroke of Jordan Spieth and other golfing greats.
Dwight Clark, the former San Francisco 49ers star receiver, had the same plan as Bench. Before he started signing, Clark had about 20 minutes to relax – so he sat comfortably watching his smart phone, which was showing The Masters.
Roger Clemens also had the same multi-tasking plan. The hard-throwing former pitcher set his cell phone to the University of Texas baseball game, so he could keep track of his Longhorn sons, Kacy and Kody. Clemens signed and glanced at the game. He signed more, then watched another pitch or two.
Modern technology was ever-present at the three-day show, which drew about 4,500 fans. The show’s autograph lineup also featured Madison Bumgarner, Jerry Rice, Bob Gibson, Joe Morgan, Vladimir Guerrero, Reggie Jackson, Joe Theismann, Bruce Bochy, Rick Barry, Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana and John Smoltz, among others.
The wow factor
One of the coolest collectibles at the show was offered by Barb’s Cards & Great Stuff, which had a framed, two-sheet autograph item from a 1971 golf event. Among the signatures was Jackie Robinson. Other signers included Mickey Mantle, Johnny Unitas, Lance Alworth, Ray Nitschke, Jim Hart, Sal Bando, Hank Aaron and Thurman Munson.
Asking price: $4,995.
Barbara Vollick, the owner of Barb’s Cards, said she bought the item from a golfer who was at the event and that it had been authenticated by JSA, though she was still waiting for authentication papers to arrive.
“It’s a very unique piece, one that definitely will be the highlight of any collection,” Vollick said.
Roger Neufeldt of Oklahoma-based Sports Memories said he sold a large quantity of Willie Mays cards at the Tristar show, as well as most other Hall of Famers. Cards priced up to $5 were really selling well, he said. Neufeldt noted strong weekend sales of commons and stars from 1968-75. Neufeldt’s weekend sales also included about 100 T206 cards to one collector.
There was less buying at the show than usual, Neufeldt noted.
Show floor sighting
Here’s a quick trip down the aisles of souvenirs being sold at the 20th annual San Francisco Collector’s Show:
• Joe Panik-signed 2014 World Series ball ($75).
• Brandon Belt-signed baseball ($50).
• Ball signed by Willie Mays and Willie McCovey ($300).
• Used lineup cards from the late 1990s ($40).
• Y.A. Tittle-signed 16-by-20 photo, with HOF ’71 inscription ($40).
• University of Iowa back-scratcher ($4).
• San Francisco Giants hooded sweatshirt, from Majestic ($35).
• The Legends Sports Memorabilia magazine (July/August 1992) with David Justice on the cover, signed by Justice ($79).
• LaMichael James’ University of Oregon game-worn jersey, signed with inscriptions, from the 2011 National Championship game ($1,200).
• Rory McIlroy-signed cleats ($600) or a Nike hat ($250).
• Phil Mickelson-signed golf shirt ($400).
• Klay Thompson’s game-worn Golden State Warriors’ shoes ($1,599).
• New basketball and baseball card releases (unopened hobby boxes) were strong sellers overall. Not so much for 2015 football products.
• Stephen Curry-signed, framed Warriors’ jersey, with 8-by-10 photo ($1,499).
• A catcher’s chest protector signed by Buster Posey ($500).
• San Francisco Giants’ pocket schedules: from 1963 ($35), 1964 ($45) and 1966 ($30).
• Framed court room photo of O.J. Simpson and Johnny Cochran, with Alan Dershowitz also pictured (though unsigned), and with a Global Authentication, was $250.
• Spotted a Wayne Gretzky-signed 8-by-10 color photo for $100, and the dealer selling the pic said I could take it quickly and get it authenticated for a few more bucks. But what if is wasn’t authenticated?
• Japanese game-used baseball jerseys were $200.
• John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John dual-signed photo from the movie Grease, with PSA/DNA, was $275.
• In 1999, Barry Bonds appeared on cereal boxes – for MVP Crunch Cereal. The box now sells for $25. A 1995 Wheaties box with the Oakland Raiders logo emblazed on the front is $20.
• Neufeldt was selling a 1963 Kahn’s complete set of 30 photos, including Roberto Clemente, for $2,100.
• Neufeldt also was selling a baseball signed by Pete Wyshner for $300. Pete who? Wyshner was the real last name of one-armed baseball player Pete Gray. The ball was signed more than 20 years ago.
• One more cool collectible from Neufeldt was actually 325 collectibles – it was a lot of about 325 vintage 49ers player photos from the Morabito front-office. The lot, with original notebooks, was $3,500.
• Packs of 1957 Topps Football, back in the day, sold for 1 cent. Today, those wrappers alone are $100.
• A wrapper for 1960 Sports Novelties, a division of Milko Products, which had both cards and marbles inside, was $50.
• The basketball program from the game between the College of the Pacific and the University of San Francisco was 10 cents back on Feb. 2, 1954. Today, that program goes for $100, as Bill Russell played for USF at the time.
• Randy Cook was selling a 2003 Leaf Certified Materials Gem Mint 10 parallel card of Babe Ruth, which feature Yankee pinstripe and stitching. The card carried a $2,500 price tag.
Ross Forman is a frequent contributor to SCD. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com. Photos by Forman.