Boston Red Sox Recent History and the Autograph Industry

October 6, 2010

Last night was the first showing of ESPN’s excellent 30 for 30 documentary “Four Days in October”.  The short film chronicles the back-end of the 2004 American League Championship Series.  That was the time everything changed for Boston and New York.  Obviously until then the Yankees had dominated the Red Sox.  While they had played countless classic games and series the bombers always inevitably wound up on the winning side.  Then, with their backs totally against the wall-down 0 games to 3 in October 2004, the Sox won 4 of the most magical games ever played.  We all know the particulars as they have been detailed over and over again- David Ortiz‘s heroics, Schilling’s bloody sock, more of David’s clutchness and Johnny Damon’s two home-runs.  I won’t bring up those horrific memories that have haunted Yankees fans too often in this post as I thought it would be as good a time as any to talk about how 2004 impacted this industry.

After the ALCS the Red Sox went on to demolish the Cardinals in an incredibly lopsided 4 game sweep.  We had talked after the ALCS that there may be some real business possibilities in the Boston market if they were to win it all.  With that in mind the right people made the right calls and , before you could say choke, I was loading fifteen cases of 2004 World Series baseballs into my Mercury Sable.  I hung tight for a few hours and waited for the green light to begin the drive to Massachusetts….more specifically to see Manny Ramirez.  Once I got it I drove as fast as legally possible…which isn’t that fast when weighed down by 405 pounds of baseballs.  I finally made it to Manny’s.   It didn’t matter because he wasn’t there.  To no avail I rang the bell for awhile but eventually gave up and went to my hotel to regroup.  Thankfully all got worked out and the next morning I was at Ramirez’s apartment where he signed and signed and signed.  Not only was Manny autographing balls with his new patented inscription – “2004 WS MVP” but he was also becoming the first name on our team project.  While the team project has become one of our staples since then, it was a fairly new concept to me.  After Ramirez signed I set up camp at a hotel conference room.  Over the course of several days not only did the entire team walk through those doors but even the General Manager Theo Epstein came to sign the pieces.  It was an absolute whirlwind.  Many of those players became our exclusives and I would end up linked to them for many years.  Over and above the team pieces it seemed that practically everyone had their own individual moment that needed to be capitalized on.   Ortiz had photos of all his ALCS achievements.  Schilling had images from Game 6 with the vaunted bloody sock on.  Doug Mientkiewicz had the last out photograph.  Dave Robert had “The Steal”.. Bronson Arroyo had the Arod one…the list goes on and on.  Johnny Damon signed so many of the grand slam photo that he even personalized one “To Steiner Sports, thanks for hurting my hand”.  Before we knew it, an empire was built…no pun intended.  We came out of it with as comprehensive a Red Sox collection as anyone in the business had.  Unfortunately though the team pieces were not completed until November 14th.  Pedro Martinez left town quickly after the parade and he became the one name missing from the project.  We got him on the pieces over two days in a Times Square hotel.  It was during that marathon signing that I convinced Pedro to come to the Mets.  It sounds funny but I was definitely the first person to discuss the possibility with him….looks like I sold him on it!

Anyway, as I said earlier some of these relationships ended up lasting years.  The Sports Illustrated 2005 Baseball Preview issue had both Damon and Derek Jeter on the cover.  That, blown up to 16×20, became our first project of the season.  Then the following year Johnny ended up on the Yankees and played a huge role the past few years..culminating in the 2009 championship. Also in 2005 we continued to work with Pedro as we had a few private signings and one amazing public in Scarsdale. (not to forget the no-show public slated for Huntington)   In between 2006 and 2009 there was, of course, the 2007 run.  As soon as the Red Sox disposed of the Rockies (again in a sweep) I was on way back to Boston.  It was total deja-vu.  This time was a little different as we had a lot of players in place already.  I actually knocked it out myself for the most part but it did end up taking much longer than 2004.   Most of the players signed within a few days but there were a few lingering names that wouldn’t go a away.  David Ortiz added his signature to the project the day prior to Thanksgiving 2007.  It took me over eight hours to drive back in that holiday traffic! (in a rental mini-van).   It made me reflect on the time I foolishly drove home for Thanksgiving from Maryland that night before, which took me over ten hours.   Unbelievably David wasn’t even the last name to get.  Josh Beckett had flown home to Texas shortly after the parade with no return trip in the foreseeable future.  Early that December we bit the bullet and I flew down to San Antonio with the items.  This was a bit of a pain.  The business had changed dramatically since 2004 and all of a sudden game used was at the forefront of it all.  Not only was I rolling with baseballs, photos, jerseys and bats but now there were bases, home plates, pitching rubbers and even locker room champagne bottles (which look great when first signed but the signature can come right off from condensation if touched!).   These items are a nightmare to ship, unpack and repack.  This was never more evident than at the hotel in Texas where it took hours to pack it all up the right way.  Even with the hellish schlep to San Antonio it was extremely gratifying to finally be done with it.  Again the pieces came out amazing and even further solidified ourselves as the industry leader in Red Sox memorabilia and collectibles.

Just as in 2004 we developed some great new player relationships with the 2007 team.  None more important than with Dustin Pedroia.  Dustin, with winning both the AL Rookie of the Year and the World Series in ’07, started his career in a similar fashion to another one of our exclusives (pretty good company to be in when compared early to Derek Jeter).   We have been going strong with Dustin since then having enjoyed quite a run with the 2008 AL MVP.  We did a signing about two weeks ago in New York and, even with all the time missed this season,   it’s obvious by the demand that he is the Red Sox most popular player.  Personally I have always enjoyed the Pedroia signings as he loves talking baseball.  It still amazes me that Red Sox and Yankees player tend to greet me with “What’s up with the Mets?”.   Anyway we are obviously thrilled that Dustin is part of the Steiner family.

During our last signing Pedroia signed quite a bit of game used items (the same type of product that was such a hassle to ship to San Antonio!).  Through our partnership with the Red Sox we get bases, balls, lineup cards, bats and jerseys from the team.  It is very similar to our Yankees-Steiner relationship.  After home stands we get the items from those games.  Just as with the Yankees we also have great inexpensive Red Sox sports gifts like the dirt-key chains and plaques.  Check out the rest of this site for more on these incredible items.  Everyone thinks of us as a Yankees company, and rightfully so, but we really are very much a part of the fabric of Fenway and Red Sox Nation (we even have a few salespeople stationed in Boston now).

Having said all that, Red Sox fans don’t fret as you have had a great run since 2003 and will undoubtedly be right back towards the top in 2011.  I am sure I’ll see some of you around in Ft. Myers…spring training is right around the corner!

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Hockey Greats – SteinerFest IV

September 28, 2010

This Saturday I was privileged to play a major role in our Steinerfest IV…the Hockey Greats Show.  This was an unprecedented event as we boasted literally the greatest names in NHL history.  Many of these iconic figures such as Mark Messier and Mario Lemieux were doing their first public autograph signings in at least a decade.  As is the case with most multi-player shows this took months of preparation on the back end. We spent most of Friday pulling raw, unsigned product to be used for both sale at the event as well as to get signed in the backroom.  The abundance of my time spent prepping for this involved the send-ins/mail order items. This was, by far, the most daunting quantity and variety of miscellaneous pieces that I have ever dealt with.   Hockey fans are definitely the most passionate and detail-oriented collectors out there and the insanity of this weekend’s mail-order undoubtedly proved that.  After two truckloads and two trips in my igloo-mobile, all the raw product, pictures of hockey greats, Steiner signs, client send ins and misc. supplies were all over at Iona.  We set up until about 9:45 that evening (that was as late as the facility permitted) and then headed back at 6:00 AM to finish the set-up.

I spent the whole day in the backroom.  I ventured out into the crowd twice as I had my hands full with players signing from 9:15 to 4:00.  It was a whirlwind as one shift went right into the next.  At one point I think I had six athletes at the same time.  I must say it was pretty cool sharing the same space with Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux, Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Mike Keenan, Harry Howell and  Scotty Bowman.  It was also great, as always, to see Messier, Graves, Richter and Leetch, and get pictures of hockey greats like these.  Those four Rangers are some of my all-time favorites to work with and there is nothing better than seeing the camaraderie up-close when the four are together.   I also found it quite interesting to see the respect up close that they all have for one another.  Each of the “younger” guys made it a point to say hello to Harry Howell and Gordie.

The last guy to sign was Scottie Bowman.  Looking back now it was definitely appropriate that he was the final autograph signer as he has the most cups of any of them… 12!  I must admit I did not realize that he has that many championships.  We started a few amazing multi-signed projects (including replica 2 foot Stanley Cups) and it took Coach three times as long to autograph these than anyone else since he inscribed every cup year!  Bowman finished up at 4:00 PM on the dot.  Throughout the day items were getting packed up and loaded so it did not take as long as usual to get out of dodge.  I was expecting to complete the day by 8 or 9 and was pleasantly surprised to walk in the door of my apartment a little after 6.

Now that the show is over the real work begins.  There is a massive effort here right now receiving in the entire collection of stellar signed product, and signed pictures of these hockey greats.  I have been doing this for a long time and truthfully the physical signings are the easy part.  The most tedious tasks are on the front and back end of the process.  Over the summer I read a fantastic book about Woodstock.  It talks about how the most work was done before and after the actual event…settling up with vendors, the artists and dealing with merchandising.  Ironically there were only a few chapters about the concert.  There were over 100 pages about booking talent and setting up the venue, let alone the seventy-five plus pages talking about the months after.

Having said that… the hockey show was a total success on all levels.  Our team did an awesome job and I have heard nothing but glowing reviews from customers.  We will definitely be staging many more events like this in the near future.  Also be on the lookout for a ton of remarkable items autographed this past weekend.  There are several notable Rangers multi-signed pieces as well as some amazing Lemieux goods including sticks, gloves and helmets.  We even boast a photo of Mario’s first game!

As always I would love to hear your feedback on this past weekend’s festivities.  Enjoy the day!  Peace

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Signing with legends

August 13, 2010

As mentioned in my last post (which amazingly enough was only a few days ago) things are starting to get busy again.  I am in the middle of a little mini run where there have been autograph signings practically every day.  Yesterday I did a small private signing with The Captain, Mark Messier.  We generally do signings every summer with Mark over at the Rangers practice facility.   Mess does an annual kids camp over in Greenburgh and the building is always accommodating to our needs.  The great thing about yesterday’s signing was that it gave me an opportunity to start a few of the projects for September’s hockey autograph show.  Mark was the first to sign several Rangers Core Four pieces (to be followed by Graves, Richter and Leetch.)  We are revisiting some old staples like the 1994 All-Star Game photo and beginning some new multi-signed pieces that are to sure to be classics.  As a company we are beyond excited about the Hockey Great Show on September 25th.  Besides the Rangers greats we are boasting a lineup including the immortal Gordie Howe and legendary players like Mario Lemieux.  There will undoubtably be additions to this already stellar lineup so stay tuned for much more on this event as the weeks go on.

Speaking of legends- tomorrow we have the great Yogi Berra signing at Last Licks Armonk from 12:00-1:30.  This is Berra’s first signing in awhile as he unfortunately had to miss his yearly trip to Cooperstown.  I have said on so many occasions that Yogi is one of my favorites to work with.  He is as gracious as anyone with his fans and is a true professional in every way.  Not only is Berra a must-have autograph for any collector he is a pretty much a must-meet celebrity for any fan.  Hope to see you there!

Next week should be quite busy as the Yankees come home Monday.  Aside from Thursday’s Arod public at Roosevelt Field Mall (which is selling at a record pace) there are sure to be several more Yankee signings throughout the week.  As always keep checking back to this forum, the upcoming signings page and my twitter account for the latest on all things signings.

Have a great weekend! Peace

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Signing with Alex Rodriguez

August 9, 2010

So, to say it has been awhile since my last post is the understatement of the summer (that or possibly the myriad of folks stating that Lebron took the easy way out..but I think we may have that beat…off topic be sure to check my twitter from the night of “The Decision”-MJ stole my material a few weeks later).  Despite popular opinion and the various rumors surrounding my conspicuous absence from this hobby’s blogging world (most of which revolve around the Mets misfortunes and my hiding under a rock) I am doing well and have actually been extremely busy as of late.  A long time ago, in my last post, I mentioned that summer is notoriously quiet in the signings world.   That fact remains somewhat true.  We are always light on public appearances in July and August as many people take vacations over those months.  I even took some time off to follow Phil Lesh and Furthur up and down the east coast.  Having said all that the past ten days have been pretty busy.  Literally straight from summer tour I hit Citi Field last Sunday for the Mets 2010 Hall of Fame induction.   I went as a guest of Doc Gooden’s and had a blast in his suite after the emotional on-field festivities.  Then two nights later we actually had Dwight appearing at Last Licks NYC.  It was obviously his first public signing since being inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame and the fans came out in full force to congratulate him.  His popularity-given his accessibility-is remarkable.  While it doesn’t hurt that he played for both New York teams the adulation has more to do with how Doc is around his adoring fans.  The guy , for all his issues, truly does get and appreciate the people of New York.  The following day (last Thursday) I attended the Turn 2 Foundation annual dinner.  It was a terrific event that raised a ton of money for young Americans.  You can check out more about the foundation and the amazing work they do at derekjeter.com .

That brings us to Friday where we did our post 600th Home Run signing with Alex RodriguezThe entire sports memorabilia industry had been anticipating this milestone for several weeks and we had already done our due diligence in order to unveil an incredible product line as soon as the Home Run was hit. As far as the business goes a milestone accomplishment is very different from a no-hitter, cycle , perfect game or anything of that nature (things that happen randomly).  Just like with Derek’s record breaking hit last season we slowly built the line over time and, with the exception of the photo, were ready to roll when the time came.  The Arod signing was a true marathon.  It wasn’t that it was a ton of pieces (in all actuality quantities are somewhat limited so get them while you can…) but each and every piece is inscribed.  Other than a few choice auction pieces (check back to this site shortly to see those) and a spectacular panoramic all the items were inscribed either “Youngest to 600” and/or “600 HR 8/4/10″…very cool stuff.  Personally my favorite item is the gold bat.  Each of these is dated and looks ridiculously awesome.  The only problem with bats is they are the most difficult item to unload, set up and repack up/re-load…that, in itself, is a great story (but we’ll save that for another day).  Amidst the excitement of the Arod milestone and ensuing private signing we were sure to book Alex for his first public appearance since joining the elusively elite 600 Club.  We are extremely elated to have Alex signing at the Steiner Sports Store on Thursday 8/19 from 7:30-9:00.  As always we will be offering the choicest in blank photos and raw product .. or come down and bring your own pieces ot start a new project. (thus the fun of collecting)  Hope to see you there!

Check back tomorrow for a preview of everything else (over and above the Arod signing) we have slated for the next week or so.   Random note- at this very moment another episode of “Memories of the Game” is being filmed right in front of my desk.  Every time I see a camera crew I can’t help but think of  “in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….you don’t say 2 or 1” (then Garth starts nodding with the 2 and 1)…one of my all time favorites.

Enjoy the day..party on Wayne…

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June 11th

June 11, 2010

There is a huge weekend and upcoming week on the horizon.  Not only are we doing a private signing with Derek Jeter but also have appearances with Phil Niekro, events with Francisco Cervelli and Marcus Thames plus we just added an RA Dickey and Howard Johnson signing to next Saturday’s festivities.  Both the Mets and Yankees seem to be rolling so the Subway Series in the Bronx should be quite a scene.  There are great pre-signing prices for all these MLB upcoming signings so definitely be on the lookout for those.  On the other side of the coin the NBA Finals are getting more interesting by the game.  I am still feeling LA in 6 but something was just off last night (you can’t allow Big Baby to do what he did)… even so #24 will come back with a vengeance and get us a much needed W on Sunday.  We are offering some great Celtics and Lakers specials on this very site so be sure to check them out.
Having said that- enjoy the day and keep following me on twitter throughout all this craziness for real-time updates and some great contests.
Peace


June 3rd

June 3, 2010

There is a lot going on right now.. to say the least. We are two Perfect Games into one baseball season (should be three – #imjustsaying) , Griffey Jr. just announced his retirement, Arod is closing in on 600 hr’s, Stanley Cup Finals and NBA Finals. The prevailing theme of today, due to a botched call is, The Perfect Game. The Perfect Game is such an incredible feat. While we have a Roy Halladay signing coming up soon I have been working the PG theme for the past few weeks. After the David Cone/David Wells/Don Larsen appearance we finally have a limited number of PG Battery Mates photos back in stock. This has been one of our best sellers over the past year and is an absolute must have for any baseball collector. It is absolutely daunting that there have only been 20 in the history of Major League Baseball. That is what makes the whole Larsen mystique so incredible. We are so desensitized to him (being that Don is a friend and we work so often together) but it truly is the greatest performance in baseball history.. The guy pitched a Perfect Game in the World Series. Moral of the story is that this PG product will never go stale and as every year goes by the legend of Larsen will grow.

In the weeks to come I feel that the Arod theme will begin to pick up steam. He is within striking distance of that vaunted 600th. Be on the lookout for some great deals on our Arod staple pieces as well as new ones to be introduced as he approaches this special milestone. We already boast some of the most unique Rodriguez pieces around and our creative juices are already flowing in anticipation of 600… Stay tuned.

Having said that- there is a huge Game 1 between the Lakers and Celtics tonight. The blog faithful know of my affiliation with LA. They have been my team pre #BarMitzvah and have followed them from Magic to Vlade to Van Exel to Peeler to Shaq to Kobe to Fisher .. to Artest .. you get the idea. We offer some great Celtics and Lakers product on this very site (both vintage and current).. So be sure to look around. Bottom line is I am fired up for this series. It is the greatest rivalry in sports (sorry Yankees/Red Sox) and this gives the Lakers a shot at redemption for the pain of two years ago. I’m feeling confident and am counting the hours till tip-off.

Lakers in 6 , #24 Finals MVP.. Approaching MJ status – Redemption

Thank you and enjoy the game

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May 28th

May 28, 2010

As you all know from my tweets this has been a relatively quiet signing week.  Having said that.. we are running some amazing web specials through this upcoming holiday weekend so be sure to peruse this site for awesome deals. I am even offering  greater discounts on twitter.  Lastly be on the lookout for some new blog posts early next week and even a few contests.
Have a great holiday weekend! Go Mets! Go Lakers!

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