By Ross Forman
Reggie Jackson exchanged autographs with Colin Kaepernick. Frank Thomas walked out of his way to meet Kaepernick. Joe Montana also, naturally, embraced Kaepernick.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback was the star – to other stars and fans galore – at the 18th annual Bay Area Classic, produced by Houston-based Tristar Productions Inc.
The three-day show, held April 25-27 at the Cow Palace, drew more than 5,000 collectors, including a throng of red-wearing 49ers faithful when Kaepernick, head coach Jim Harbaugh and stars such as Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Frank Gore, among others, signed autographs.
“After 18 years, this is still one of the best shows in the United States,” said Tristar Vice President Bobby Mintz. “It was a very, very strong Sunday, though we weren’t too surprised considering Colin Kaepernick, coach Jim Harbaugh and others were here signing. The 49ers were coming off another great season, and San Francisco collectors clearly love their 49ers. It was pretty packed.”
This year was a repeat of the 2013 Bay Area Classic from Tristar, when Kaepernick, Buster Posey and others signed autographs.
“These past two San Francisco shows probably were our best shows in the market over the past 10 years,” Mintz said.
Kaepernick was the top draw this year, in his third-ever signing for Tristar – all in San Francisco.
“Colin has not changed one bit over the years. He is just a genuinely very nice guy,” Mintz said.
Kaepernick signed nonstop for more than three hours, posing for countless photos with collectors, too.
Other top signers at the show included Willis, Pablo Sandoval, Will Clark, Don Larsen, Jennie Finch, Cal Ripken Jr. and Frank Gore, among others.
“I was disappointed, though not surprised, that Aldon Smith did not appear. Some of his teammates also were surprised he did not appear,” Mintz said. “He had been at the 49ers training facility working out all week. I did everything in our power to get him here; that was disappointing.”
Ripken, as always, posed for photos with almost everyone who received his autograph.
Ernie Banks was his normal cordial, outgoing self for collectors, as well.
James Lofton talked to many collectors about items they were having signed, such as when and where photos were taken.
Sergio Romo heard catcalls – from adoring female collectors.
Bruce Bochy sported a World Series ring.
Jennie Finch attracted a throng of female softball players seeking her signature.
“It was just a fun show,” Mintz said.
Rick Haskins, dealer from Dallas who specializes in pennants, said the 2014 San Francisco show had, “The biggest crowd at a weekend regional show since the old days, the early 1990s.” He added that it was his best show sales-wise in San Francisco in 20 years.
“The show was jam-packed with collectors all weekend, with a huge crowd on Sunday. Aisles were packed all weekend,” said Haskins, who tagged Oakland A’s pennants as his best-sellers over the weekend. “I’ve never had a bad, or even average, show here in San Francisco. This weekend was extra, extra good.”
Greg Lambert of California Card Shark added, “It was an amazing, amazing show. The attendance definitely was up this year.”
On the show floor
The following are some examples of what was spotted on the show floor in San Francisco:
- A yellow pullover Harlem Globetrotters jacket, made by FUBU, for $40.
- A 2013 Seattle Pilots bobble head of Gorman Thomas ($15).
- A 2014 wall calendar, featuring the stars of the hit (yet controversial) TV show Duck Dynasty ($15).
- A 2007 Milwaukee Brewers bobble head featuring Chorizo, of the famous on-field races. There also was a 2010 Italian Sausage bobble head and a 2013 Polish Sausage bobble head. Each was $25.
- Mohawk-style, sports-themed winter hats ($12).
- San Francisco Giants’ Hello Kitty shirts ($15).
- Bruno Mars-signed, matted and framed 11-by-14 photo ($250). That was the same price for an 8-by-10 signed, matted and framed photo of John Legend. For $350, you could have scored a signed photo (matted and framed) of Bruce Springsteen or Slash. And, for $450, you could have grabbed a signed photo from the teen heart throbs known as One Direction.
- Larry Bird-signed Legends Sports Memorabilia Magazine, with JSA/DNA ($150), while the magazine’s issue from about 20 years ago with Mickey Mantle, autographed by Mantle, was $350.
- Tommy Wingels-signed puck ($15).
- Tomas Hertl-signed 16-by-20 photo ($40).
- There was a Leaf 2010 MMA National Pride card of MMA star “King Mo,” numbered 55/60, for $5.
- A tape recorder from 1968, given to Dick O’Conner ($40).
- Cain Velasquez-signed, framed, multi-photo plaque ($49).
- They were for sale, though not moving too quickly: Unopened boxes of Magnum, Rambo, Dallas, Return of the Jedi and Elvis cards.
- There was a box of 1986-87 Fleer NBA Basketball cards. It was just the box, no cards – with its original 40 cents per pack price tag. The box alone was $50.
- A Super Bowl II pennant sold for $1,700.
- There was a vintage Dallas Texans pennant for $650.
- Chefs in the house would have liked the 49ers oven mitt and pot holder combo for $15.
- Boxes filled with basketball pins were $2 each or 6-for-$10. Same for hockey pins.
- There were 3-D pictures (11-by-14) for $15.
- I liked the 49ers Farewell Season at Candlestick Park (1971-2013) helmets, with their $275 price tag.
- Magic Johnson-signed Los Angeles Dodgers jersey, gray or white, for $125.
- Jose Canseco-signed 16-by-20 unlicensed lithograph was $10.
- Who wouldn’t want a 2013 San Francisco Giants’ Year of the Snake Chinese Heritage statue ($40).
- There was a signed, framed jersey of Marta, a FIFA World Player of the Year soccer star from Brazil, for $280. The seller said he’d listen to offers, if I wanted to take it home with me.
- Saw one dealer selling candy, chips and bottles of water for $1 apiece.
- Another dealer had cracked bats for $5 each.
- A 1937 World Series program, featuring the New York Yankees against the New York Giants, was $295.
- The authentic replica WWE vintage spinning championship belt was $400.
- If only the wallet was crammed, I’d have grabbed the 1963 Pittsburgh Pirates team-signed yearbook, including Roberto Clemente and Willie Stargell (24 total autographs), with PSA/DNA. Asking price was $5,950.
- A 49ers purse was $25.
- There was a Laila Ali-signed, matted and framed 8-by-10 photo for $150.
Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to SCD. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.