Skip to main content

If collectors couldn’t find what they were looking for at the National, they didn’t look hard enough

If a collector couldn't find the collectibles they were looking for at the National Sports Collectors Convention chances are they didn't look hard enough.

By Ross Forman

Heading to the I-X Center in Cleveland for the 39th annual National Sports Collectors Convention, the five-day extravaganza that is anything and everything collectible, I was excited for many things.

 There were plenty of Baker Mayfield signed items available on the show floor. (Ross Forman photos)

There were plenty of Baker Mayfield signed items available on the show floor. (Ross Forman photos)

Here’s a taste of what I saw on the show floor during the 2018 National:

• A variety of hockey Starting Lineup figurines, $2.

• Absolute Sports Cards had display cases made from used hockey sticks.

“One of our partners is a hockey guy and people like ’em,” said one of the Absolute dealers. I asked if they too were for sale and how much. The dealer said they were for sale, but had to check with someone else for the price, and that someone else wasn’t around. Seemed strange he didn’t know; I’m sure I wasn’t the first to ever ask him about a purchase-price.

• Muhammad Ali-signed 16x20 photo, with PSA/DNA authentication, $1,250.

• Don King-signed boxing glove, $99.That’s the same price for a glove signed by Oscar de la Hoya.

• Usain Bolt signed baseball, $150.

• Buzz Aldrin signed baseball, $1,500

• Mickey Mantle signed baseball, $750.

��� Signed 8x10 photos: Johnny Bower with his Hall of Fame inscription ($29), Chris Evert ($30) or Bobby Bowden ($35).

• Signed full-size football helmets: Drew Brees or Tim Tebow, each for $599.

• Ohio State University mini helmet, single-signed by Archie Griffin or Eddie George, $65.

• There was a box filled with foam hands of Cleveland’s beloved Chief Wahoo, $5.

• Curt Gowdy signed baseball, $199.

• Michael Jordan signed shoes, $5,000.

• Michael Jordan signed jersey, with custom framing, from Upper Deck: $2,895.

• Michael Jordan signed ball from UDA, $2,000.

• Baker Mayfield autographed canvas prints, $175-$250.

• How about some original stadium seats: Comiskey Park ($399), Chicago Stadium ($399), Buffalo Memorial Auditorium ($599) or Cleveland Municipal Stadium ($399).

Image placeholder title

• A very creative, colorful Chicago Cubs metallic football helmet, $150-$250.

• For $100, you could grab a signed 16x20 framed picture of Hope Solo or Abby Wambach.

• Jerome Bettis signed, framed jersey with two photos, $309.

• A 1959 Rin Tin Tin jigsaw puzzle, boxed, $40.

• Two items for the big-spenders: Wayne Gretzky 1979 O-Pee-Chee card, graded PSA 9, was $27,000; and a Michael Jordan 1986 Fleer, PSA 10, was $22,500. Heard a collector ask the dealer what the best he can do on the Jordan, and the dealer replied, “Cash – $21,000.”

 A dealer set up at the National Sports Collectors Convention was busted for trying to sell fake autographs, like this one of Mickey Mantle. Roughly 1,000 items were confiscated by authorities.

A dealer set up at the National Sports Collectors Convention was busted for trying to sell fake autographs, like this one of Mickey Mantle. Roughly 1,000 items were confiscated by authorities.

• Police confiscated about 1,000 items from a dealer’s booth, everything he was selling. He had “autographs” of Muhammad Ali and others for, oh, about $40.

• Pete Rose signed Cincinnati Reds jersey, $125.

• Gordie Howe signed, framed jersey with two photos and a cut signature, $400.

• There were 1977 and 1996 replica New York Yankees World Series rings for $10.

• Adam West and Burt Ward dual-signed 16x20 photo, framed, with JSA Authentication, $350.

• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar signed UCLA jersey, with JSA, $275.

• Kobe Bryant signed Minneapolis Lakers limited-edition jersey from UDA, numbered 21/50: $1,300.

• This made me laugh: $150 for an official 1980 Philadelphia Phillies grounds crew jumpsuit uniform.

Image placeholder title

• There was a 1973 Topps Basketball set, near complete, missing only 17 cards, for $175.

• Alex Bregman signed ball, $90.

• What happened to the local media coverage for the event? Three high-profile dealers each commented that media coverage, before and during the show, seemed nonexistent.

• Lou Gehrig bobblehead, $15.

• Alex Ovechkin signed, framed jersey, $2,500. I am guessing, for that price, the jersey was game-used, but it wasn’t promoted as such.

• Wrestling, anyone? There were 16x20 signed, framed photos of Bill Goldberg ($140) and Kurt Angle ($130).

• Mickey Mantle Restaurant plates were $40, bowls were $45, and coffee cups were $150.

• A cool Kicker Football Game from 1930 was $650.

Image placeholder title

• A 1954 Topps Baseball Starter Set, with 93 cards, was $350.

• An unsigned brick from Notre Dame Stadium: $50, or $75 if signed by Rudy Ruettiger.

• A 1926 program from the Notre Dame/USC game, which was the first in this classic series and featured John Wayne, $1,000. Or, a ticket stub from that game was $1,200.

• Attention Cleveland Browns fans, there were “I Lived Through 0-16, The Perfect Season” t-shirts for $20, or two-for-$35.

• Shaquille O’Neal signed shoe, numbered 5/32: $1,199.99.

• Yes, that was TV star Nate Berkus, the son of former National Executive Director Mike Berkus, working in the will-call booth. Was nice seeing Nate and his brother Dan, though surprising when collectors didn’t recognize Nate.

• Ted Williams 16x20 signed, framed UDA photo: $495.

• Panini cards were featured on the multiple lanyards given to attendees, while images of Upper Deck cards were used on hotel room keys in the area.

• Jim Brown, Bill Russell dual-signed, framed poster-sized photo, $600.

• LeBron James 2016 NBA Champion bobblehead, $25.

• How about a signed 16x20 photo for $20: Jerry Springer or Carol Channing.

• Stan Lee signed Captain America shield, $699.

• A 1989 New York Yankees card set from Score, with Deion Sanders’ first card: $4 or three for $10.

• Jimmy Piersall signed 8x10 photo, $22.

• Signed Jim Thome Cleveland Indians hat, $140.

• Baron Von Raschke signed WRESTLING STARS sticker, $18.

• Yogi Berra signed ball, $129.

• Willie Mays signed ball, $195.

• Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox signed, game-used ball, $275.

• Jack Dempsey signed index card, $70.

• There was a 1976 Topps Football 3-pack for $1,400. Or the 1986 Topps Football three-pack, with Jerry Rice showing on the top, for $495.

• Chipper Jones signed book, $70.

• Red Grange signed baseball, $2,999.Or, for the same price, you could grab a ball signed by Barack Obama.

• Kris Bryant signed ball, with “Go Cubs Go” inscription, $200.

• Patrick Kane signed Sports Illustrated from 2016, $100.

• Ronda Rousey signed swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated from 2016, $50.

• Aaron Judge fans: signed balls were $250, signed All-Star Game balls were $350, and signed balls with “All Rise” inscription were $450.

• Antonio Brown game-used jersey from Dec. 10, 2017: $7,499.99.

• Aleksander Barkov jersey from 2017-18 season: $2,499.99.

• Sandy Koufax signed jersey, $1,395.

• Ichiro signed Japanese League jersey, $395.

• Al Rosen signed ball, $35. (I miss seeing “Mr. Mint” Alan Rosen. Sure he hadn’t set up at The National for years, for whatever reason(s), but he was The Hobby.)

• Satchel Paige cut signature, framed, with photo and plaque, $400.

• Anyone want a signed mini-helmet: Matt Stafford ($125), Drew Pearson ($60), Bob Griese ($95), Charley Trippi ($65) or Doug Flutie ($125).

• Joe Paterno signed 16x20 photo, framed: $375.

• For $35, you could have grabbed a signed baseball of Fergie Jenkins, Dale Murphy, Kevin Millar, Gary Sheffield or Mike Musina. I’d take Fergie.

• Signed jerseys: Reggie Jackson/Oakland A’s ($275), Nolan Ryan/Texas Rangers ($450), Cam Newton ($400) or Dustin Pedroia ($500).

Unfortunately I didn’t see a 7-Eleven Slurpee cup for sale of my all-time favorite player, Wilbur Wood, while in Cleveland, so I’m heading to the 40th annual National Sports Collectors Convention next summer in Chicago.

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