From the time the doors to the Baltimore Convention Center opened, August 4th on “Sneak Peak” Wednesday, sports fans and collectors were treated to one of the largest and most extensive display of collectible exhibits, exhibitor participation and athlete signings in the country.
Baltimore, hosting The National for the first time ever, made quite an impression on The National attendees. Many of the estimated 25,000 (not including Sunday) plus visitors were impressed with the venue, downtown attractions, including Camden Yards, the Inner Harbor while enjoying the local hospitality.
Over 300,000 sq feet of convention space was filled with virtually every sports and entertainment collectible imaginable. From new and vintage trading cards, game-used equipment, signed photos, uniforms, pins, movie posters, score cards, movie props, so many other collectible categories were represented.
The annual National Sports Collectors Convention attracts the top exhibitors from around the country, including the top auction houses, authentication and appraisal companies and licensed trading card and collectible manufacturers.
Open to the public, one of the many highlights of the convention was the special Steven Strasburg Heritage rookie trading card Topps produced exclusively for The National. The Strasburg limited edition card created long lines at the Topps booth throughout the event. One of the hottest players in the game today, Strasburg was the talk of the convention. Topps created 999 Strasburg cards that were distributed via a special on-site promotion over the five days.
In addition to great new and vintage memorabilia, many paid admission to get autographs and meet some of the greatest players ever to play the game. Joe Montana, Brooks Robinson, Bart Starr, Willie Mays, Gordie Howe, Jim Brown, Rod Carew, Eddie Murray and Bo Jackson, just to name a few. Over eighty (80) high profile athletes met their fans, signed autographs for those who purchased autograph tickets and I’m sure listened to hundreds of stories concerning fans memories about their favorite player. Fans didn’t seem to mind the time spent on the long lines because of the caliber of players signing. It was worth the wait!
It wouldn’t be The National if there weren’t promotional giveaways from the licensed trading card manufacturers. Topps, Upper Deck, Panini America, Press Pass all seemed to partake in wrapper redemption promotions. That is where consumers purchase wax packs and then open them and save the wrappers. After accumulating the number required by the trading card company they approach the respective booths and redeem x amount of wrappers for a special trading card usually produced to distribute exclusively at The National.
This was the first year Schulte Auctions set up as an exhibitor at The National. It was a great experience, especially since Baltimore was hosting the event. My team and I met many fans and collectors from Baltimore and the surrounding area. We were very excited to have, on display, items from our current August on-line auction, including photos signed Babe Ruth to his sister Mamie, notes on postcards from Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb, a Mike Curtis Baltimore Colts game-used helmet, a 1958 Baltimore Colts Championship team signed football and the pair of cleats Brian Roberts wore during the very last player at-bat at the old Yankee Stadium. Visit www.schulteauctions.com to see all the great collectible items up for auction. The on-line auction closes, August 31, 2010 at 9:15 pm EST.
In addition to the many collectible industry corporate exhibitors, Comcast Sportsnet’s newly launched CSNBaltimore.com and Pressbox Media Group set up on the convention floor throughout the event and took advantage of interviewing some of the great athletes of the game and notable collectible industry representatives such as James Spence, Founder of JSA Authentication, Scott Prusha from Panini America, the exclusive Kobe Bryant memorabilia trading card and memorabilia company and Mike Berkus, Founder of the National, to name just a few.
Many exhibitors are hoping The National will give consideration to coming back to Baltimore in the near future. Right now they are scheduled to return to Chicago in 2011. Only time will tell if Baltimore makes it back on their schedule! If you participated as an exhibitor or attended as a fan / collector and had a positive experience send me a note and I will forward it on to The National executive board. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s show them we want the greatest collectible show in the country back in Baltimore!