March 13-15 Philly Show Autograph Updates

Last night I saw that the Philadelphia Sports Card & Memorabilia Show, which is owned by Hunt Auction, Inc, updated their website giving more details on the autograph guests that are planned to appear at next month’s show.

Saturday March 14, 2009:

  • Willie Mays
  • Frank Robinson
  • Willie McCovey
  • Larry Christenson – All proceeds go to charity
  • Marty Bystrom – 1 FREE autograph with each paid admission

Sunday March 15, 2009:

  • Jim Rice
  • Jennie Finch
  • Robin Roberts
  • Dickie Noles – 1 FREE autograph with each paid admission

I plan to be attending on Saturday and will try to get autographs of Marty Bystrom and Larry Christenson.  Both are from the 1980 World Series Phillies.  I would love to get Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, or Willie McCovey to sign my bat, but they are charging a lot for an autograph.  If I wanted Willie Mays to sign my bat it would cost $450.00, and they say NO PHOTOGRAPHY with Mays.  McCovey would cost $159.00 and Robinson $199.00.  I know these Hall of Famers didn’t get paid millions, but I think those ticket prices are a little expensive.  I’m guessing that the line for Willie Mays won’t be that long.  I can see those prices working at The National, but not Valley Forge, PA.  It will be interesting to see what happens.  

For more information on the guests and prices, please click here.

Philadelphia Sports Card & Memorabilia Show 2009 Dates

This evening I heard back from Paul Kutch, of Hunt Auctions, who just purchased the Philadelphia Sports Card & Memorabilia Show this year.  Here are the dates for the two 2009 shows:

March 13-15, 2009

Sept. 25-27, 2009

They still don’t know who will be signing autographs yet at either show.

Stick With The 2001 Card

Checking out some of the first closed auctions for the new “Shoeless” Joe Jackson bat cards tells me to stick with the 2001 card.  The single bat piece numbered to 100 seems to sell for $400.00 – $500.00, and the Diamond Kings with two pieces of bat numbered to 25 sells for around $625.00.  I sure wouldn’t mind pulling either of these cards out, but if I had to purchase one I think I would stick with the 2001 SP Legendary Cuts.  Maybe in the future with the release of Donruss Americana Sports Legends the prices will come down.

Operation Foul Ball Update

Source – NY Daily News

Feds’ memorabilia case heating up

Monday, September 8th 2008, 9:20 PM

Several sports memorabilia officials have testified in recent weeks before a grand jury in Chicago that is investigating Mastro Auctions and fraud in the collectibles business.

Additional hobby insiders are also scheduled to testify before the grand jury, sources said, while others have been asked to provide records and other documents.

“There has been a parade of people going to the grand jury,” said a source close to the case. “The feds are closing in.”

The grand jury deliberations are part of an investigation into memorabilia fraud initiated last year by the Chicago division of the FBI, whose “Operation Foul Ball” smashed a multistate autograph forgery ring in the 1990s.

Although the target of the investigation is Illinois-based Mastro Auctions, sports memorabilia’s largest auction house, other businesses and individuals may be involved.

Some of the hobby insiders who received subpoenas to appear before the grand jury are former Mastro Auctions employees. “The FBI told me I am not a target, but they want to talk to me,” said one former Mastro worker.

Mastro Auctions president Doug Allen did not return a call for comment.

As the Daily News first reported, investigators from the FBI and the United Postal Service crashed the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, Ill., in August, delivering subpoenas to industry executives and questioning memorabilia companies’ employees.

The investigation of Mastro Auctions has focused on shill bidding, card doctoring and other allegations of fraud.

Mastro Auctions Responds

A few days ago I sent an e-mail to the customer service department of Mastro Auctions.  I asked them, “What does Mastro Auctions have to say about what happened at the 2008 National and the FBI showing up?”  Today I got this response, “Andrew, At this time no comment, a statement will be made later this month.”  I wonder what they will say in their statement?  I can imagine that I’m not the only person that has sent them an e-mail asking what is going on.

Operation “Foul Ball” – FBI Appears at the 2008 National

I found this article on the NY Daily News website.  Very disturbing news about the hobby.  The FBI hit them at the right time.  This should really put a scare to those people who make counterfeit cards.

“The same day Mastro Auctions sold a rare 1909 Honus Wagner card for $1.62 million at a sale held in conjunction with the National Sports Collectors Convention in Rosemont, Ill., federal agents investigating fraud in sports collectibles questioned employees of Professional Sports Authenticator, the hobby’s top card grading service.

Also on Friday, investigators from the FBI and the United States Postal Service interviewed a former Mastro Auctions employee who is known to be a “card doctor,” somebody who fixes dog-eared corners, removes stains, flattens out creases or takes other steps to improve the appearance of trading cards. Most collectors and dealers consider it unethical to alter cards.

“They spent a lot of time at the PSA booth,” one sports memorabilia executive said.

Federal agents spent several hours Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the National, sports memorabilia’s largest annual convention, issuing subpoenas to appear before a grand jury investigating fraud in the memorabilia business.

The agents’ appearance at the show is part of an investigation into sports memorabilia fraud initiated last year by the Chicago division of the FBI, whose “Operation Foul Ball” smashed a multistate autograph forgery ring during the 1990s. The target of the investigation appears to be Illinois-based Mastro Auctions, sports memorabilia’s largest auction house, although other businesses and individuals may also be involved.

The source said Bill Mastro, the company’s chairman, looked cool and collected during the auction, held this year at the Chicago ESPNZone. “But (Mastro president Doug Allen) looked awful,” the executive added. “I think all this is getting to him.”

Allen and Mastro could not be reached for comment Saturday. Neither could Joe Orlando, president of PSA.

The fact that PSA officials and the former Mastro employee were interviewed by agents indicates that investigators are also interested in learning about “card doctoring.”

Cards that have been trimmed, colored or repaired are tainted and worth considerably less than cards that have not been altered. The difference in the value of cards that have been altered and the same card that has not been doctored can be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

PSA was formed in 1991 to protect collectors from card doctors, counterfeiters and other cheats. But the company has been a lightning rod for controversy. Collectors and dealers say PSA inflates grades for cards submitted by big-volume customers such as Mastro Auctions.

The first card the company graded – another 1909 Wagner, at the time owned by NHL great Wayne Gretzky – had been cut from a sheet and later doctored, according to “The Card,” a book by two Daily News reporters. The Wagner, which PSA graded an 8 (on a scale of 1-10) sold for a record $2.8 million last year, even though a former PSA authenticator has said the company knew the card had been doctored.”