By Marty Zajac
Over the weekend of Oct. 22-23, thousands of fans and collectors descended upon Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., for the Long Island National No. 15, Long Island's largest sports collectible show, sponsored by JP's Sports & Rock Solid Promotions (JPRS), in conjunction with Mead Chasky of MC Sports.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the New York Mets 1986 World Series Championship, 31 players and coaches of the famed team, including Keith Hernandez, Dwight Gooden, Lee Mazzilli, Mel Stottlemyre, Kevin Mitchell and Howard Johnson, were in attendance as autograph guests, offering an opportunity for fans to meet and greet their favorite Mets players from the championship ball club. As special guests, Bill Buckner, whose infamous error in Game 6 is part of baseball folklore, and Ralph Kiner, the host of Kiner's Korner and seven-time home run champ, were also signing at the show, courtesy of Jack Berke Sports.
The show also marked the first JPRS appearances for John Mitchell, John Gibbons, Rick Aguliera, Roger McDowell and many more.
Admission was $7 for adults, and free for children 10 years and younger. Included in the price of admission was a free autograph from Terry Leach on Saturday, and Bruce Berenyi on Sunday. A "Superticket" package was available for $499, and included an autograph from each of the Mets. As an additional show special, a Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner ticket was available for $40 for collectors looking to create that unique, dual-signed piece of memorabilia to commemorate their moment in baseball history (or infamy depending on your allegiance). While the show was more or less geared toward the 30-to-40-something fan, the show's promoters made sure to take care of the kids. Children under 10 received a free pack of cards, with a 1-in-5 chance at finding a ticket good for a free autograph.
More than 120 dealers were in attendance with 300 tables of merchadise, selling everything from vintage and modern cards, to autographs, periodicals and other ephemera and memorabilia. Various industry vendors were on hand, including Sports Card Guaranty (SGC), Beckett Grading Services (BGS), Huggins and Scott Auctions and James Spence Authentication (JSA), who were offering onsite authentication, as well as collecting items for encapsulation. As a special promotion for the show, JSA authenticated any item signed by one of the show's guests, complete with their basic COA, for only $6.
As expected, the show's response was tremendous. Larry Studebaker, one of the autograph authenticators for JSA said it was "one of the highest volume shows in terms of walk-up customers." Dealer Lenny Svelnys agreed. "There was excitement and a buzz in air from customers. As far as customer traffic goes, it was one of the busiest shows I can remember." He added that it was "pretty neat to see Mookie Wilson and Bill Buckner together. I think a lot of the fans thought so, too, judging by how long the line was."
The next JPRS event, the Winter Show, is scheduled for Jan.y 20-22 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y. To receive additional information about upcoming JPRS shows, please visit www.nyshows.org and sign up for the mailing list.