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Bay Area Classic in San Francisco a success for dealers and collectors

Once again the collectors show in San Francisco, hosted by TRISTAR, was successful for both collectors and dealers who attended the show.

By Ross Forman

Bob Celani had a few tubs of off-grade cards at the 22nd Bay Area Classic, held at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, April 20-22. Collectors could grab six cards for $20.

One collector grabbed the whole tub.

 Joe Montana (Ross Forman photos)

Joe Montana (Ross Forman photos)

Celani sold the tub, filled with about 1,500 cards for $850.

He hadn’t sold such a tub in seven or eight years.

“That was a surprise,” said Celani, who has been selling sports memorabilia for 30 years.

“Sales overall (at the three-day show) were pretty brisk,” he said. “I was very pleased with the results. Friday (sales) were really brisk and Saturday was even better.”

Naturally, Celani sold a lot of Willie Mays cards at the San Francisco show.

“There was a lot of interest in his cards, and not just the expensive cards from the 1950s. There also was a lot of action on (Mays cards) from the ’60s and even the ’70s,” Celani said.

Celani also sold an off-grade Ty Cobb 1933 Goudey Sports Kings card for its asking-price: $1,200.

 Trevor Hoffman

Trevor Hoffman

He also sold more than 25 cards from a near-complete 1957 Topps Basketball set, which was missing the Bill Russell card and a few others.

Mays was the most sought-after card, followed by Mickey Mantle, Celani said.

There wasn’t any interest in Michael Jordan cards.

Celani had two Michael Jordan rookie cards, each graded PSA-6.

“I had no action on either,” he said.

TRISTAR’s San Francisco show featured autograph appearances by Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Dick Butkus, Bob Lilly, Reggie Jackson, Trevor Hoffman, Tony LaRussa, Goose Gossage, Jeff Bagwell, Jack Morris, Bob Griese and Jerry Kramer, among others.

Robin Lee of said the San Francisco show was, “pretty good.”

“Since I missed the last two (TRISTAR San Francisco) shows, I was excited and anxious to get back into a booth. Reconnecting with old friends, and making new ones, was awesome,” Lee said. “There was some great foot traffic on Saturday, and sales were good. I sold numerous women’s sports items in a variety of price-ranges; that was the best feeling ever.

“Women sports are finally starting to get the attention and credit they deserve.”

 Jack Morris

Jack Morris

Lee added that one of her show highlights was seeing Jesse Sapolu, who was signing on Sunday.

“He looks amazing and is one of the nicest guys ever,” Lee said. “All in all, the show was successful for me, and I can’t wait for next year.”

Roger Neufeldt of Oklahoma-based Sports Memories would say the same thing, as he “Never stopped being busy,” all weekend, he said, “and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.”

In fact, Neufeldt said he was “as busy as any San Francisco show I’ve ever done, ever.”

He noted particularly strong sales of vintage bargain cards. Neufeldt had several customers spend $300 or more for $1 cards.

“There was another show that I was looking at doing that weekend, but TRISTAR’s (2017) San Francisco show was good, and I thought this year would be good, too. It was. It was really, really good,” he said. “I did better than I expected.”

Neufeldt sold more than $1,000 in off-grade vintage cards.

He also had interest in turn-of-the-century cards, such as Old Judge cards, especially of Hall of Famers and stars.

 Bob Lilly

Bob Lilly

Neufeldt said cards from the 1930s were also strong sellers.

Cards from the 1950s were the most sought-after, he said.

He said Mays cards were “still super strong” throughout the show, followed by Mantle cards, plus rookie cards of Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente.

“Another thing that was very strong at the show was cards from the mid- to late-1960s,” Neufeldt said. “This (pattern) seems to indicate a younger group of vintage collectors … the Millennials of vintage card collectors.”

Neufeldt said, for the first show in quite some time, he did not have success selling non-sports and football cards.

He also sold more than $700 worth of publications.

“Overall, everything was selling,” Greg Lambert of California Card Sharks said of the current hobby box market. “It actually was a blessing that Bowman (Baseball) was not out yet, so others could sell.”

 Dick Butkus

Dick Butkus

He praised sales of Topps Gypsy Queen cards, as well as Heritage and Diamond Kings.

“Everything with (Shohei) Ohtani is selling, people are chasing that guy,” Lambert said.

Factory-sealed boxes of Topps Heritage were selling for $170 each.

Lambert said basketball boxes were slow-sellers, even with deals.

Football, meanwhile, just keeps selling, it is becoming a year-round seller, Lambert said. “Buying was really good, too, at the show. Many (dealers) wish they had more money to buy,” he said.

Lambert added: “I was slammed … busy, busy, busy all weekend.”

TRISTAR Vice-President Bobby Mintz said, “The show went well. The show in San Francisco is very consistent. The attendees are sophisticated; they know what they want.”

The weekend’s top signers were Joe Montana, Jack Morris, Jerry Rice, Jerry Kramer, Trevor Hoffman and Matt Williams.

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