By Ross Forman
It was hard to top the 32nd TRISTAR Collectors Show in Houston last February, when members of the then-defending World Series-winning Houston Astros were among the autograph-signers.
But this year’s show, the 33rd edition, held Feb. 8-10 at NRG Arena in Houston, shined brighter.
“This show was the best (January/February show from TRISTAR Productions) in five or six years,” said longtime dealer Carl Gerjes. “There was a really good crowd and the show was very well promoted.”
Dealer Marty Davis added, “This was the best show in years. Doncic really helped push sales.”
Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic (LOO-kuh DON-chitch) is the reigning EuroLeague Most Valuable Player and EuroLeague Final 4 Most Valuable Player after leading Real Madrid to the 2017-18 EuroLeague title. He was the youngest player ever to garner both awards.
In his first 55 games for the Mavericks this season, he’s scoring almost 21 points per game, tops on the team.
“The industry as a whole is strong right now – at shows, online (sales) and in stores,” Davis said. “Basketball (card sales) were the biggest surprise at the show – how well they did.They really helped make this a fantastic show.”
The autograph lineup was, naturally, star-studded, featuring appearances by Jim Brown, Paul Warfield, Earl Campbell, Leroy Kelly, Ron Mix, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, Steve Carlton, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Don Sutton, Joe Morgan and others.
“Another terrific Houston show. The stars were out and so were the collectors. The show was packed,” said TRISTAR Vice-President Bobby Mintz. “(It was) a well-rounded, diverse (autograph) lineup.”
The weekend signers also included Doug Drabek, Pete Rose, Ed Oliver, Chuck Foreman, Michael Gallup, Trayveon Williams, Keke Coutee, Vince Young, Kyle Freeland, Fred Lynn, Johnny Bench, Juan Marichal, Tony Perez, George Foster, Cecil Fielder and Andruw Jones, among others.
“Jim Brown was a terrific guest with terrific signatures, and he was very nice to everyone,” Mintz said. “The Big Red Machine was very strong. The father-son tandems with Craig Biggio and Roger Clemens, (and their sons also appearing) was really cool. Ed Oliver was a big draw, as was Dallas Cowboys star Jaylon Smith.(Houston) Texans’ star DeAndre Hopkins was exciting, as well as all of the Texas A&M players. Clint Capela from the (Houston) Rockets was a nice addition to the show and he enjoyed the appearance a lot.”
Jim Brown spent time talking with Earl Campbell, while baseball banter was wide-spread among Craig Biggio, Pete Rose, Jim Rice and others.”
Longtime dealer Randy Cook was named the 2018 STARRY Award-winner, signifying him as the exhibitor of the year, as voted by his fellow exhibitors.
“(The award is) richly deserved, by Cook,” Mintz said. “Randy has been a personal friend for over 28 years, so I was happy he was recognized for his years of contributions to our industry.”
Cook said winning the annual award was “incredible.”
“When your peers vote for you, that’s very special,” Cook said.
Mintz added, “I want to thank all of the exhibitors and collectors for their support. Without them, our shows would not exist. I also would like to recognize our staff and team of volunteers whose contributions allow the show to run so smoothly as large as it is. (It was) a great team effort.”
Here’s a look at some of the collectibles for sale at the 33rd TRISTAR Collector’s Show:
• Faceballs ($30). There were baseballs with drawings of major leaguers, current and retired, and they certainly landed in the very-cool department.
• Painted football helmets of Jared Goff ($225), Earl Campbell ($300) and Joe Montana ($200).
• Full-size Minnesota Vikings helmet, signed by Kirk Cousins ($159).
• Full-size Oakland Raiders helmet, signed by Bo Jackson ($295).
• Full-size Chicago Bears helmet, signed by Brian Urlacher ($179).
• Topps WWE signed Legends cards: Mick Foley ($65), Ken Shamrock ($25), Goldust ($25), Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake ($30), Kevin Nash ($30).
• Full-size Dallas Cowboys helmet, signed by Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett and Drew Pearson ($699).
• Team logo bracelets were $3, and necklaces were $5.
• Signed 16”x20” photos: Hulk Hogan ($75), Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan ($200), Sting ($50), Jose Canseco ($40).
• Autographed jerseys: Dennis Rodman ($65), Lawrence Taylor ($125), Robert Brazile ($50), Willie Roaf ($50), Hakeem Olajuwon ($100).
• DeAndre Hopkins full-size Houston Texans helmet, autographed ($300).
• Andre Ware autographed University of Houston helmet ($125).
• Muhammad Ali-signed, framed 16”x20” photo ($1,750).
• Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler signed, framed 16x20 photo ($1,650).
• Myles Jack signed, framed jersey ($175).
• Tubs of Houston Astros cards for $1 or 7-for-$5. Similar tubs for cards related to Texas A&M, University of Texas and Houston Oilers.
• Funko Pops were $12, unless marked.
• Framed, signed, two-photo piece of Neil Armstrong was $899, which was $100 more than the similar item of Buzz Aldrin.
• Who doesn’t want a three-foot bobblehead of Orbit, the mascot for the Houston Astros, especially since it was limited, No. 9 of 14 made. Asking price was $1,100.
• There was an 8”x10” photo, signed by Monte Irvin and Larry Doby, with JSA Certification for $70.
• Landon Donovan-signed UDA cleats, limited to 1 of 10. Regular price was $699, but they had been cut to $350.
• Large team logo mugs, including the Houston Rockets, $8.
• Framed and signed 8”x10” photo of late pro wrestler Dusty Rhodes for $275.
• Single-signed baseballs: Brook Jacoby ($30), Red Schoendienst ($49), Jeff Kent ($50), Ian Kinsler ($59), Tony Oliva ($39).
• Kip Ingle was selling vintage 1960s bobbleheads. He arrived in Houston with 34 and by Sunday had less than 10 still to sell.
• Ingle purchased a vintage Texas League ball, signed by Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek and Dizzy Dean from May 20, 1973. “It was a cool buy,” Ingle said.
• Signed and framed 16”x20” photos: Dirk Nowitzki ($100), Anthony Davis ($160), John Havlicek ($85) and Baker Mayfield ($200).
• Single-signed baseballs: Jim Rice ($99), Duke Snider ($99) and Orlando Cepeda ($79).
• Signed, game-used Carlos Correa jersey from 2017 season was $3,000.
• A signed and framed 16”x20” photo of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain for $800.
• Single-signed Master’s flags: Nick Faldo ($250), Ben Crenshaw with an inscription ($200), and Phil Mickelson ($450).
• Randy Cook was selling a Patrick Mahomes jersey swatch card for $425. “Everyone is asking about him, (collectors) of all ages,” Cook said of the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback.
Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to Sports Collectors Digest. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.