Our SCD crew braved tornadoes and floods this past weekend to hold the annual SportsFest Show for the second year at the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center in suburban Chicago.
The high point of the weekend may have been the return of Pete Rose for another autograph session. The all-time hit king has been a longtime friend of Krause Publications, having appeared at SportsFest and at our Hawaii Trade Conference a number of times. I’ve been intrigued by his low profile in recent months during a time when the steroid allegations (and admissions) have been coming faster than kiss a duck.
Rose graciously allowed us some interview time prior to his public signing appearance on Sunday, and talked about steroids, the commissioner, Barry Bonds and a whole lot more. Whatever your opinion of Pete, it’s hard not to admire his dogged insistence on being himself on all occasions, even if his candor ends up seeming counterproductive to his long-range hopes of being reinstated into the good graces of Major League Baseball.
The interview with Rose is featured in a video clip on Chris Nerat’s Gavel Chat Blog ... I’ll also be writing it up for my “Out of Left Field” column in this week’s SCD (July 4).
Another former player from Pete’s heyday, Ron Kittle, turned up at the show in an informal capacity. The 1983 AL Rookie of the Year brought in a couple of artifacts to be evaluated at the “What’s It Worth” segement of the show, a regular component for the last three years that has proved to be popular with Chicago collectors. Kittle’s pride and joy (of stuff he brought to the show) was a 1983 All-Star Game signed bat that has the kind of povenance that can hardly be topped: he got all the signatures himself at the game.
Kittle, whom I remember even from 1981 during his minor-league days when he was socking 40 home runs for Glens Falls (New York) in the Eastern League and I was the PR director for the Empire State Games in nearby Albany. Kittle said the nifty All-Star bat was headed for a charity auction; he’s also a prolific collector in his own right and the creator of spectacular hand-crafted Benches. We hope to have an interview with him later this summer.