Saturday, June 29, 2013

Larry Wayne Jones, #10 is retired

The Atlanta Braves did a great thing this week.  The organization retired Chipper Jones #10.  What I most appreciate about Chipper is that he played with the Braves his entire 19 year career.  In the current state of major league sports, that just doesn't happen anymore.  In baseball, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are most likely going to play their whole career with the Yankees, and that might be all. 

Chipper should be assured a spot in the baseball hall of fame.  He has never been accused of using PED's or steroids.  He has always remained out of trouble and is considered a hero in the Atlanta area.  His numbers are strong, as he accumulated 468 HR's and 2726 hits, both more than respectable.  He was an 8 time all star and won the national league MVP in 1999.  He appeared in 93 post season games, appeared in 3 world series and won in 1995. 

I always found him to be a great autograph signer at the ball park.  It was rare to not see him sign before a game.  I always enjoyed how we would talk to all fans with a smile and make everyone that said something to him feel unique and special with his replies. 

If you're a true fan of baseball his autograph is a must have.  If you don't have one, I recommend finding one now, before he is inducted into the hall of fame in 5 years.  His price is high and will only increase.  As 8x10 of today, an autographed 8x10 photo will run a fan about $169, balls cost about $200, then premium items start at $350 and up. 

He is making a rare public autograph appearance in Chicago the first weekend in August.  Pricing there starts at $149 and goes up from there.  If you cannot make that, I recommend ordering a piece through the mail, as you will still save money after shipping. 

My first Chipper Autograph from spring training 2002.

Friday, June 28, 2013

More than an Athlete

Earlier this week I was invited to work a private autograph signing with Kevin Millar.  I've worked many private and public signings in the past, but this one was particularly unique.  You see, Ryan Dempster hosted signing at his private home. Ryan and Kevin are good friends and we were invited into Ryan's kitchen to have Millar sign about 275 items. 

As awkward as it was to be in the kitchen of a Red Sox player, those of us working were afforded the opportunity to see him in a private and personal setting.  Honestly, it was refreshing.  There were many family members walking around the living room and kitchen.  Ryan was sitting on his couch, watching TV with kids in his lap.  Moreover, when Ryan asked the family if they wanted pancakes for breakfast, a resounding "Yes" game from the group.  Despite the fact, he pitched 6+ innings the previous night, and achieved another win for the Sox, he was standing at the oven and kitchen counter, preparing flour, eggs and batter to cook pancakes for everyone. 

In this world of highly paid athletes and entitlement, it was great to see that at least some players, in this case Ryan Dempster and Kevin Millar, value family first.  The connection they have with their children and immediate families demonstrated to me that their priorities are in the right place.  Lastly, they are truly 2 of the nicest athletes I ever met.

What a strange week!!!!

I think this past week was one of the strangest in Boston sports history. The Bruins losing in the Stanley Cup final, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers left for LA and Danny Ainge traded Garnett and Pierce, John Lackey was the Red Sox star and of course Aaron Hernandez headlined this crazy week for the local teams.  I cannot remember a week like this for any sports town.

The New England memorabilia industry also experienced many ups and downs this week.  The Bruins losing, the Celtics dismantling and the apathy for the Sox is bad enough for business, but the Aaron Hernandez situation is just shattering.  From the business point of view, this murder case is unprecedented.  Unlike situations involving players who are accused or caught using performance enhancing drugs, a popular athlete accused of murder takes the cake.  I know, OJ Simpson went through this in the 90's, but the memorabilia world was about 1/10th the industry and he wasn't convicted.

Although Hernandez is only in the accused stage, his name and merchandise has taken a huge hit.  Most businesses cut ties to his merchandise as quickly as the Patriots released him.  I know this is nothing compared to the feeling's of the victim's family, as this is a tragedy, but this accusation will cost the New England memorabilia industry millions of dollars.  Most dealers/businessmen and fans will still buy or sell PED user autographs and items, but they won't touch anything to do with Hernandez with a 10' pole.

You can wait and see how the trial plays out and hope for the best, but even if found innocent, Hernandez's reputation was fiercly hit so negatively, I don't see a recovery.   So if you own a Hernandez item be ready to let it collect dust, throw it away or just hope you can get 10% of it's value from someone.

Goodbye Paul, Doc and Kevin.