For the first time in the history of Collectors Showcase, Marco Rol and company delivered the complete classes of both the football and baseball halls of fame.
The show took place in Chantilly, Va., in July, with the new classes signing on the Saturday portion of the show. The signings included newly elected baseball inductees Rich Gossage and Dick Williams, along with new football HOFer Fred Dean, Art Monk, Darrell Green, Andre Tippett, Emmitt Thomas and Gary Zimmerman.
Monk in particular, has been a tough show guest in recent times. He has not made many appearances over the last several years, and the local Redskins fans came out in solid numbers for Monk and Green. Dean’s appearance was the second in the last two shows in Chantilly.
Many collectors had Hall-of-Fame items to get signed, in addition to many Goal Line Art cards, which were just recently released.
The rest of the lineup on Saturday was stacked with additional Hall of Famers. Luis Aparicio and Bob Feller made appearances alongside the new baseball inductees.
The football Hall of Fame was represented by Charley Taylor, Barry Sanders, Earl Campbell, Steve Largent, Mel Blount, Chuck Noll, John Stallworth, Art Shell, Len Dawson, Joe Delamielleure, Paul Krause, Lenny Moore, Dave Wilcox, Charley Trippi and Dante Lavelli.
Rounding out the Saturday portion of the show were two Minnesota Vikings running backs. Representing the old school was 1973 Offensive Rookie of the Year and five-time Pro Bowler Chuck Foreman. The new school was represented by 2007 Rookie of the Year and 2008 Pro Bowl MVP Adrian Peterson.
The Sunday portion of the show had varied themes, with a Colts reunion to go along with a Yankees and Redskins theme.
Former Baltimore Colts and Hall of Famers Art Donovan, Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti and John Mackey appeared together. Moore signed on Saturday but made an unannounced appearance to the show on Sunday, as well. Former Redskins Joe Jacoby, Mark Mosely, Dexter Manley and Ricky Sanders appeared Sunday, along with Timmy Smith, who set a Super Bowl rushing record with 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII.
Baseball Hall of Famers Lou Brock and George Kell joined a pair of Cowboys Hall of Famers in Tony Dorsett and Bob Lilly. The Yankees were represented on Sunday with Graig Nettles, Bucky Dent, Hector Torres, Johnny Blanchard, Mike Torres and Dwight Gooden. Green Bay Packers receiver and local Virginia Tech product Antonio Freeman rounded out the Sunday portion of the show.
From day one right up to the day of the show, former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Noll led all advanced autograph ticket sales. Noll is the only head coach in NFL history to win four Super Bowls in as many tries and has been off the show circuit for years. He was scheduled for breaks during the signing sessions, but he plowed through like a trooper, foregoing the breaks. The fans might not have realized it, but Noll developed predictable pain midway through his signing but did not let that interfere with his appearance. He was perhaps as cordial as I have ever seen him at a show, providing a solid signature. Fans who got Noll’s autograph realized that his appearance was rare.
As an unannounced bonus, the ESM booth had New York Giants first-round draft pick Kenny Phillips and Baltimore Ravens third-round pick Tavares Gooden at the show. Both players are from the University of Miami.
Most of the signers appeared at the main stage, but the forward autograph area was the site for Dave Wilcox and Dante Lavelli, courtesy of Sports Card Heroes. The forward area also housed Hector Torres, Johnny Blanchard and former Bengals running back Ickey Woods.
Land of Legends also brought in actress Cindy Morgan to sign autographs. She was Lora/Yori in the movie TRON, but she is best remembered for her role as Lacey Underall in the classic film Caddyshack. She sold more than 100 tickets, including signing all kinds of Caddyshack memorabilia that Land of Legends had available. I could not resist getting a “Bushwood” Country Club flag.
The forward area has always been a bit less hectic than the main autograph stage with an atmosphere where you can talk with the signers for a while. Look for another Hollywood guest or two at this location in the future. Also, look for the Breast Cancer Charity booth to be back at the fall show.
The foot traffic at this show was a bit slower than at the March show, but that is kind of status quo for the summer version of CSA’s shows. Gas prices probably took a few more collectors off the radar for this show than usual, but there was still many autograph ticket sold at this show. Collectors probably spent most of their money on signatures and dropped a few less bucks at dealers tables.
Several of the autograph guests kindly took the time to speak to SCD about the show, the hobby and life outside the lines.
DeLamielleure was selected by the Buffalo Bills as a first-round draft pick in 1973 out of Michigan State. He spearheaded the famous Electric Company, which helped lead O.J .Simpson to his 2,003-yard rushing season in 1973. It was the first time a rusher gained 2,000 yards in a pro football season and still remains the only such accomplishment in a 14-game season.
DeLamielleure was a six-time Pro Bowler who later played for the Cleveland Browns, blocking for quarterback Brian Sipe. He was the only lineman in NFL history to block for a 2,000-yard rusher and a 4,000-yard passer. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
DeLamielleure appeared at the Chantilly show once before in his 2003 induction year.
“This is my second time here, and my experience was great,” he said. “I am a big football fan, and it has been a treat to see John Stallworth and Fred Dean, among others. I was a fan before I was a player.
“As far as collecting, I did have a baseball signed by Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians, but my brothers took it out and played with it. I was a typical kid at the time. I shellacked the ball,” DeLamielleure continued. “Nobody knew back then in the 1950s and 1960s how valuable this stuff would become. I was a big Tigers fan. I had a bunch of Al Kaline cards and Lions cards. I saved some stuff from my career. Jim Ringo gave me a print of the famous Green Bay Sweep, and I have that hung in my house. There were only 25 made, and Ringo was special to me. He coached me for eight years. He was kind of like a dad to me.”
DeLamielleure has also been an advocate for former NFL players in regard to pension and disability benefits. He provided an update on the current situation.
“There is a lawsuit going on in San Francisco with Herb Adderly and Bernie Parrish against Players Inc. We are trying to get before Congress or whatever it takes to improve players benefits in regard to disability and pensions,” DeLamielleure said. “It is the greatest game in the world ... with the worst pensions. That is all you can say. It is ridiculous that they do not take better care of the guys who helped build this league.
“The current veteran players are ticked off that the rookies are making all this money, some guys getting over $30 million. Why does a rookie have to make this much money?
“Today’s superstars should not have too many problems financially. When we played, many of us worked two jobs, but nobody in their wildest imaginations thought that the NFL would be generating today’s revenue, including the owners. It is ridiculous that many of us have pensions of less than $13,000 per year. We have no cost-of-living increase. Gasoline prices go up, as does everything else, and the older guys feel this pinch. Sugarcoat it, say whatever you want. I have no respect for someone who does not take better care of the former players. We are not asking for $100,000 per year. We are asking for a respectful, livable wage. To get disability from the NFL, you have got to jump through hoops, and denials are routine. To get a musculoskeletal disability is almost impossible. I say this stuff all the time. I cannot be more clear. It is not the auto industry, where you have hundreds of thousands of workers. We have 2,800 guys, that’s it, and a booming industry.”
This is a special year for Yankees fans and players, for it’s the final year of old Yankee Stadium. Several Yankees took time to reflect on the hobby, Yankee Stadium and the death of Bobby Murcer, who passed way the weekend of the show.
Graig Nettles was with the Yankees from 1973-83. His finest season came in 1977 when he won a Gold Glove, had 37 home runs and 107 runs batted in, capping it off with a World Series title. His defensive play at third base in the 1978 World Series helped spark the club to back-to-back titles.
Nettles conceded that he was not much of a collector.
“I did not save autographs,” he said. “I moved around so much that I would be afraid it would get lost anyway. I have a couple of jerseys from the Yankees, Padres and Braves. I may have a uniform from every team I played on. I do not display that stuff. It is in the basement somewhere.”
Nettles said there is always a demand for Yankees autographs, so he does three or four shows per year. Most are in the New York area.
“I still get mail autograph requests, but I send the stuff back unsigned. I do not like getting mail at my house. I like doing these shows. Sometimes people come to these shows with pictures that you have never seen.”
And since Yankee Stadium is about to be replaced, Nettles had some comments on that, too.
“As far as Yankee Stadium goes, I think the biggest thrill I had was when Chris Chambliss hit the home run in 1976 to put us in the World Series in that playoff game. Those moments and the World Series victories were special times. It was great to play with a guy like Bobby Murcer. He was a great teammate and friend. We all knew his health situation was bad, and it is unfortunate.”
One of the more memorable Yankees moments in the 1970s actually happened at Fenway Park in 1978, when Bucky Dent hit the three-run homer in a one-game playoff off Mike Torrez to clinch the AL East title for the Bronx Bombers. Torrez and Dent have appeared at numerous shows together, often signing the picture of the famous blast.
Dent won two World Series with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978. He was the MVP in the 1978 series.
“This is my first time to this show, and it has gone very good,” Dent said at Chantilly. “It is neat to see some other athletes like Lenny Moore – he was one of my favorites. He used to wear those spats and all that. Many of these guys I watched as a kid, and now, here I am signing autographs with them.
“I started collecting autographs recently for my son. I never really saved stuff before though. I never really kept anything from when I was a kid or when I played. Looking back, I wish I did. When my twins were born, I started collecting 300-game winners and Hall of Famers. I do have some hats and jerseys from my playing days but never really got stuff like a Mickey Mantle jersey or Yogi Berra jersey. I do have the original scorecard from the 1978 game in Boston. Keith Jackson signed it for me. The photo from the 1978 game ties me and Torrez together, and I have signed a lot of those.
“As far as Yankee Stadium goes, there are so many memories. The first day I put on a Yankee uniform after I was traded there was special. Playing in my first World Series and waiting for Bob Sheppard to announce your name was special. The 1977 World Series was awesome, with Reggie Jackson hitting the three homers, and actually Mike was on the mound for the final out in that Series in Game Six.
Dent was sad to hear of Murcer’s passing, as well.
“The night that Bobby stood out was the night Thurman Munson got killed. Bobby got the game-winning hit,” Dent said. “He was a great guy, player and friend. I feel for his family.”
Torrez won a World Series ring with the Yankees in 1977, and a year later, found himself on the mound with Boston against his former team in the one-game playoff where Dent hit the home run.
It was Torrez’s first appearance at the CSA show, and he took some time to talk about collecting.
“I have some of my old jerseys, including the old wool ones from my Cardinals days,” he said. “The pitching in St Louis with Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton was great. I was a bit in awe when I first came up as a rookie. I also have some Yankees and Red Sox jerseys. I am glad I held onto the stuff. I have never seen so much different memorabilia that people have saved to get signed. It is crazy, but they love it. Collectors keep it in their home and pass it along to their families.”
When it comes to his playing days, Torrez has one that stands out.
“Being on the mound for the last out of the 1977 World Series was special,” he said. “I beat the Dodgers in Games 3 and 6. In Game 6, Lee Lacy tried to bunt to get on base, and I fielded it for the last out. I got my World Series ring on, as you can see. I wear it every day.
“Of course, I remember Thurman Munson quite a bit. He caught me in 1977. Great catcher, great person – a battler. He was great to throw to as a receiver. He liked a quick pace, and I liked getting on the mound and getting it going, so we had a good timing together. Thurman did not like guys to diddle daddle on the mound. He was the bulldog player of our team, came to play, and played hurt with an all-out effort.”
Torrez said he gets to Yankee Stadium two or three times a year.
“I do a lot of clinics and appearances up at the stadium and sign autographs. I do not do many shows. This is the only one like this so far this year,” Torrez said. “I do the fantasy camps wit the Red Sox and Yankees. I live in Illinois but have a business in White Plains, so I am commuting a lot back and forth.
“As a kid, I never really collected anything. I never saved the cards. It appears that it is more difficult for fans to get autographs from today’s players.”
The Ickey Shuffle
One of the true characters at the show was former Cincinnati Bengals (1988-91) running back Ickey Woods, who took some time to talk collecting and about the famous “Ickey Shuffle.”
On collecting, he said, “I have saved a few things like a jersey and a helmet. I have saved some high school/college jerseys and All-Star jerseys. I just have some of my stuff. I never really collected other people’s stuff.
“I was not a collector as a kid. I have a few sets of cards that the companies would send me. I still have them in a box, never opened them. I still get a few cards in the mail, and I request $5-$10 for the Ickey Woods Youth Foundation, and I will sign that way. It is usually $5 for a card and $10 for a helmet, photo or Sports Illustrated – I get a lot of those. It is rare to get on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and I was fortunate to make it on the cover. I try to keep it reasonable for the fans.
“As far as my career goes, one of my highlights was playing in the Super Bowl. You always dream about that as a kid. The only thing is that we lost the game. We had the game won until the last three minutes, when Joe Montana took control with that 92-yard drive and scored with 34 seconds left. We went to a prevent defense instead of staying with the pressure defense. I do not understand that. I was always told that the prevent defense prevents you from winning. You take the good with the bad though.”
Woods said he enjoyed his time with the Bengals and still sees many of his former teammates.
“My career was cut short by injuries, but I would not trade it or exchange it for anything,” he said. “I still see Anthony Munoz, Eric Thomas and Solomon Wilcox, among others. We are all still in town and do things together three or four times. Munoz and Marvin Lewis have big outings we go to every year. Louis Breeden and Isaac Curtis have outings. I do three or four shows per year. I would actually like to do more, but the Bengals are not always in demand in some markets.”
Although Woods career was shortened due to an injury, he gained quite a bit of notoriety for his famous touchdown celebration dance dubbed the “Ickey Shuffle.” Woods laughed when I mentioned it, and then went into the story about the unique dance.
“It actually started when I flew my mom in for a game with the Cleveland Browns,” he said. “Me and my two oldest kids, who were 2 and 5 at the time, were dancing and clowning around. I then told my mom that I was going to do a dance at the game. What I did was take the ball, put it in between my legs and move the ball back and forth. Our first-round draft pick, Ricky Dixon, came out up after the dance and was like ‘Whoa Ick, what was that?’ I told him it was my celebration dance, and he said that I needed to throw some steps into it.
“I thought about it for the whole week but came up with something for Rick five minutes before the next game. I did one-two-three steps this way, one-two-three steps the other way, back the other way for three more steps and three hops and acted like I was spiking the ball. It got pretty popular, I was just at the right place at the right time. I feel very fortunate.”
While it was early for attendance numbers when I spoke to him, promoter Marco Roll summarized the weekend for SCD.
“This is the first year we were able to get all the living members of the pending baseball and football hall-of-fame classes. The baseball class was a little light in sales, but the football guys did really well. Art Monk and Darrell Green signed out for the public Saturday, and we had another full day for them to sign mail-order. Chuck Noll had a full day in the back room and a full day out with the public. He was sore, but he was a real trooper.
“The next show has Jim Brown, Reggie Jackson and Whitey Ford confirmed so far. We would like get more baseball for the next show. We would love to have Yogi Berra and are thinking about a Heisman Trophy theme. We will continue to work on having guests at the forward autograph area. We had a little jam of people at the will call booth this show, so we will tweak some things. The customers who have prepaid for items should have a shorter line. All in all, good show, we will see you Halloween weekend.”
Dave Bailey is a freelance contributor to SCD and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. BOX 597, Greensburg, PA 15601. Photos courtesy of Dave Bailey.