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Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson thrill fans and collectors at Rich Altman’s Boston Show

Rich Altman promoted one of the top sports collectors shows in New England. A year after his death, the show goes on with big crowds and Hall of Fame autograph signers.

Hall of Fame athletes, local heroes and dealers from all over the country joined forces to create an exciting and fun-filled atmosphere at Rich Altman’s Boston Show held April 8-10 at the Shriner’s Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass.

During the three-day show, thousands of collectors and fans filled the large auditorium to sample items from 286 tables of collectibles and collect autographs from 10 active and retired players.

Rickey Henderson was the main attraction as his autograph tickets sold quickly, with prices ranging from $120 for an 8-by-10 photo to $225 for various pieces of equipment.

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson at the Rich Altman Boston Show.

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson at the Rich Altman Boston Show.

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Henderson has long been known as a tough autograph signer and the Altman show was one of the few times the record-setting base stealer has been available to the New England collector base. The long line of autograph seekers talked about Henderson’s career, including his all-time records of 1,406 stolen bases, 2,295 runs scored and 2,129 walks along with his American League MVP award in 1990. Eight of Henderson’s stolen bases came near the end of his career when he donned a Boston Red Sox uniform during the 2002 season.

Joining Henderson were fellow baseball Hall of Famers Tony Perez, Wade Boggs and Andre Dawson. Along with Henderson, Perez, Boggs and Dawson all played for the Red Sox during their careers. 

Of the four, Boggs played the longest in Boston, lasting 11 seasons from 1982-1992 before moving to New York and Tampa Bay. Boggs was appreciative of the hundreds of fans who paid $70 to $100 to get his autograph.

“It’s always nice to come back to Boston and see the fans,” said the former Red Sox third baseman. “I never wanted to leave the Red Sox. Jean Yawkey still owned the Red Sox and came to me at the end of the 1991 season and told me she wanted me to be a Red Sox for life like Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. She offered me $37 million for seven years and I said let’s get a pen to sign. She told me that we’d get the contract done.

“She passed away in January of 1992 before the contract was finished and the new ownership took Mrs. Yawkey’s offer off the table. We didn’t move forward on a new contract during spring training and I didn’t want to negotiate during the ’92 season. Time passed and the Yankees offered me a good deal after the ’92 season, so I moved to a new team. I loved my time in Boston and I really didn’t want to leave the team or the fans.”

Jeremy McKeen and his 7-yea-old son, Ezra, came to meet Boggs and have the former Red Sox sign his rookie card.

Jeremy and Ezra McKeen with baseball Hall of Famer Wage Boggs.

Jeremy and Ezra McKeen with baseball Hall of Famer Wage Boggs.

“Wade Boggs was my hero when I was my son’s age,” McKeen said. “I liked him because he would always come through with a hit in most games. Boggs didn’t disappoint me today as he took the time to talk to both of us and he took a photo with us, also.”

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Baseball fans weren’t the only collectors who had autograph and photograph opportunities during the weekend as the Altman group provided New England Patriot fans with six players from past seasons. Kevin Faulk, J. R. Redmond, Antowain Smith, Patrick Pass, Marc Edwards and J. C. Jackson signed hundreds of autographs on the last day of the show with prices ranging from $25 to $79.

Faulk, a 2016 inductee in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, helped New England capture three Super Bowl titles during his 12-year Patriots career. He was the most popular former football player at the show with his autograph line being the longest of the past Patriots.

The diverse group of athletes at the show continued the Rich Altman tradition of bringing numerous athletes from many sports to meet New England collectors. From his first Boston show in 2012, Altman’s plan was to offer fans and collectors of all sports the opportunity to meet local heroes and Hall of Fame athletes.

Altman passed away last summer right after the National Sports Collectors Convention, which he attended as a dealer for ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­39 consecutive years, and a few weeks before his August, 2021 Boston show. The Altman group decided to continue promoting the event because Altman, shortly before his death, advised his group that the Boston show must go on for the collectors and dealers.

“Rich didn’t want to disappoint the collectors or dealers,” Altman’s wife, Andrea, said. “So he made sure that we understood he wanted the show to continue. Rich believed that show promoters should provide opportunities for all different types of collectors and dealers to have unique experiences at the shows. This is why we continue to bring in Hall of Fame ballplayers and local athletes from many different sports. Rich was always aware of the many facets of the hobby and he tried to give all types of collectors and dealers memorable moments at his shows.”

Mollie Bracigliano, owner of MAB Celebrity Services, which represents 50 athletes exclusively and handles more than 1,000 athlete and entertainment appearances a year, has always enjoyed working with Rich Altman and the Altman group.

Marketing agent Mollie Bracigliano with client and baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.

Marketing agent Mollie Bracigliano with client and baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.

“I’ve brought many athletes to the Altman shows and it’s always been successful,” she said. “The Altman group always treats the players, collectors and dealers with respect and in a courteous manner, and that’s what makes a great show.

“From the minute I entered the hobby as a player representative, Rich treated me like I’d been in the business for many years. He was a great help and inspiration for me and he’s one of the reasons I’ve had success in this industry. The 2022 show is another example of how superbly the Altman group runs their events.”

After securing autographs, collectors had the chance to sample cards and memorabilia from more than 200 dealers throughout the arena. Once again, all sports were covered in the selling area with items from the early days of sports to the present. Some of the fastest moving items were vintage and graded cards.

“We had a great show on both sides of the tables,” said Jon Celona, co-owner of Champion Sportscards & Collectibles. “Collectors were selling some top-notch items at the show and we purchased a lot of high-value graded cards. On the other side of deals, we moved a considerable amount of vintage and graded cards to a lot of new and repeat collectors.”

Dealer Jon Celona, co-owner of Champion Sportscards & Collectibles, shows off some Mickey Mantle cards at Rich Altman's Boston Show.

Dealer Jon Celona shows off some Mickey Mantle cards at Rich Altman's Boston Show.

Along with purchases on both sides of the tables, collectors and dealers enjoyed other aspects of the show. Ted Murray, a long-time dealer of sports publications and memorabilia, thought the show was a huge success in many ways.

“Financially, the show was a success, but it was enjoyable in other ways also,” Murray said. “At times, the show took on an atmosphere from the early days of collecting with collectors and dealers not just making deals, but sharing stories about teams and players from the past and present. I’ve encountered this at the Altman shows before and it’s a nice experience.”

Ted Murray of Vintage Sports Publications, sets up at Rich Altman's Boston Show.

Ted Murray of Vintage Sports Publications, sets up at Rich Altman's Boston Show.

Most of the 286 dealer tables were filled with sports collectibles while a few dealers were carrying singles and complete sets of non-sport cards. Deb DeMarco, a Rhode Island dealer of non-sport cards, offered complete sets ranging from the 1950s to present day, including a 1966 Superman set, a 1951 Bowman Red Menace set and a 1966 Get Smart set, along with many vintage single cards.

“It was a good show for non-sport cards,” she said. “I had constant business at my booth and moved a lot of older cards from the Brady Bunch and Beverly Hillbillies sets and other items from the ’50s and ’60s.”

John Fortes, a North Reading, Mass. collector, agreed with DeMarco.

“I’m a football and wrestling collector and I came to the show to have my Shawn Michaels autographed photo authenticated by JSA,” Fortes said. “While I was waiting for the authentication, I walked around the show and found a lot of great wrestling and football items. Overall, the Altman Boston show was outstanding.” 

Collector John Fortes shows off his wrestling autograph collection at Rich Altman's Boston Show.

Collector John Fortes shows off his wrestling autograph collection at Rich Altman's Boston Show.

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