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Dealers reported strong sales for baseball cards at March Fanatics Spectacular

Dealers reported that baseball card sales were strong at the Fanatics Authentic Sports Spectacular show held in Chicago in March.
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By Ross Forman

Randy Cook spotted a vintage baseball program on day one of the weekend-long Fanatics Authentic Sports Spectacular, held March 17-19 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.

He was immediately intrigued, if not interested, as the 1932 World Series program between the host Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees was from Game 3 – and perfectly scored from that day’s game.

And what a game it was.

In the fifth inning, played Oct. 1, 1932, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Babe Ruth made a pointing gesture during his at-bat. It was Ruth’s famed called-shot.

Though the exact meaning of his gesture still, to this day, remains ambiguous, Ruth ultimately smacked a home run seconds later to centerfield. It was his 15th, and last, in his 41 post-season games.

“This is the best condition of this program I’ve ever seen,” Cook said as he gingerly held the pristine program. “I’m ecstatic with the condition it’s in. Plus, it was actually scored (at the time).

“I’ve had other (1932 World Series, Game 3) programs, but none like this.”

The program was, by the end of the show, for sale, though Cook admitted he really didn’t want to sell it. The asking price was, $1,200.

More than 5,000 attended the three-day, star-filled show that featured autograph guests Joe Namath, Joe Montana, David Ortiz, Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Ivan Rodriguez, Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ozzie Smith, Robin Yount, Tony LaRussa, Larry Csonka and Bob Lilla, among others.

 Vintage trading cards were available for only 25 cents each, or five for $1. (Ross Forman photos)

Vintage trading cards were available for only 25 cents each, or five for $1. (Ross Forman photos)

“We had a great show, better than we expected,” said Marty Davis of Marty’s Sports Card Exchange, which offers a variety of unopened hobby boxes, all sports. “Baseball (sales) were particularly strong, no doubt due to the Cubs.”

Davis said football and hockey sales were, though, slightly off.

So what was selling? Well, here’s a look at some of what I spotted:

Official Major League Baseball (MLB) ball, $20.

Jack Lambert signed, framed Pittsburgh Steelers jersey, $250.

Stephen Curry signed, framed Golden State Warriors jersey, $400.

Chicago Blackhawks sealed playing cards, $5.

There was a dealer selling a variety of autographed photos for $5, including Gene Tenace, Bill Madlock, Eric Soderholm, Gary Peters and Ivan Boldirev.

Chicago Stadium floor pieces were $15.

Chicago Cubs officially licensed World Series sweatshirts were $20.

Cubs World Series t-shirts were selling briskly at a 4-for-$20 special.

There was a popular, authentic-replica Kris Bryant jersey commemorating

Independence Day that sold well, said Paul Furfaro of PTF Sports.

Sylvester Stallone signed, box-framed glove, $995.

 A tri-fecta of autographed baseballs including those signed by Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams could be had for $1,895.

A tri-fecta of autographed baseballs including those signed by Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ted Williams could be had for $1,895.

I always like seeing the collectibles offered by Stiner Sports & Collectibles. There was, for instance, a three-baseball lot selling for $1,895. They were single-signed balls of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams.

A Muhammad Ali glove, signed and dated 9-12-83 was $1,750.

Georgia-based dealer Kip Ingle was selling the handout ($40) from Roger Maris’ funeral, in which Bobby Richardson gave the eulogy and Mickey Mantle was among the pall bearers.

Whitey Herzog golf bag, $100.

A Chicago White Sox Yearbook from 1959 was $75.

Case Nerd was selling phone covers for iPhones ($20) featuring the likeness of select sports icons, such as Michael Jordan, Aaron Rogers, J.J. Watt and Muhammad Ali, among others.

Anthony Rizzo signed baseball, $185.

Cam Newton gold MVP Cleat, $650.

One of the most colorful collectibles was the signed barrel, and two pairs of shoes, from a Calvin Johnson promotion.

Dick DeCourcy reported strong sales of 1952 Topps Baseball low-numbers. He said that he also sold a lot of hockey cards from the 1960s and ’70s.

“This is a good city for hockey (card sales); there’s no surprise there,” he said.

DeCourcy said the show was busier on Saturday than either of the other days. That was the consensus of dealers who I spoke with.

Cubs’ oversized banners were $30, or 2-for-$55.

“Saturday was very good; very, very good,” said one veteran dealer who asked not to be named in print. “Friday was horrendous, one of the worst Fridays at a Chicago show that I can remember. Sunday was average.”

I enjoyed seeing the signed, slabbed index cards of vintage pro wrestlers, including Dusty Rhodes ($95), Rowdy Roddy Piper ($95) and Baron von Raschke ($35). A similar signed, slabbed index card of the late Craig Sager was $50.

Stan Musial signed ball, $90.

Tony Gordon of Fat Daddy’s Sports reported a “really nice buying weekend.” Gordon’s show scores included a unique St. Louis Cardinals team photo from the 1920s, a 1975-76 Topps Basketball set, six Mantle cards, and a lot of 136 Walter Payton cards.

Gordon was selling a framed 1969 Topps Team Poster of the Cubs, featuring Randy Hundley, Don Kessinger, Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins, among others.

Spotted: Large, organized boxes of vintage cards for 25-cents each, or 5-for-$1.

From the vintage scorecard department, there was a 1946 gem from a New York Yankees-Cleveland Indians game for $40; and 1942 beauty from the New York Giants-Boston Braves.

Cubs’ World Series pennants remained hot at $4 each, 3-for-$10, or 7-for-$20.

Bob Knight signed Indiana University ball, $100.

Magic Johnson signed NBA ball, $110.

 For “only” $1,100 a collector could own their very own 3-foot-tall Kris Bryant bobble head.

For “only” $1,100 a collector could own their very own 3-foot-tall Kris Bryant bobble head.

Who wouldn’t want a 3-foot-tall Kris Bryant bobble head? In uniform, with attention to detail. It was No. 22 of 54 made, and carried a $1,100 price tag. Same for the version of Cubs’ mascot, Clark, yet it was No. 12 of 22 made.

A life-size standee of Chipper Jones was $20.

Top-selling unopened hobby boxes, according to Marty’s Sports Card Exchange, included: 2017 Topps Heritage Baseball, $85; 2017 Leaf Metal Draft Football, $79; 2017 Leaf History of Baseball Cut Signatures, $49; 2016-17 Panini Select Basketball, $115; 2016 Panini Select Football, $150; 2016 Panini Encased Football, $215; and 2016 Panini Limited Football, $105.

Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to Sports Collectors Digest. He can be reached at