As of last count, there were nearly 200 online articles in the mainstream media on the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention. Unfortunately, most of them were about the dealer arrested not long after the first full day of the show had opened for business.
The Associated Press was there with a photographer, which likely means they were invited by the U.S. Postal Service inspectors to capture the images. It's to ensure the story gets spread around the country and thanks to the huge reach of the AP, it did.
While inspectors won't say if other arrests are possible, it does provide a glimpse into the world of jerseys advertised as game worn that are often called into question. Lower prices obtained by certain auction houses for superstar jerseys supposedly worn on the field indicate that advanced collectors know to stay away from items they realize aren't real. That doesn't stop the uninformed collector or fan from making a mistake.
"There are a few others who need to get hauled away like that," said one prominent booth holder Thursday afternoon.
Strangely enough, the Vintage Authentics booth carries a "PSA Charities" sign as well. They have no affiliation with the authentication and grading company and in fact, Collectors Universe has sent a cease and desist letter.
We haven't seen evidence or heard that the FBI is in the building, but the show still has three more days to run and if they're here, it's possible no one knows.
Of course, there are plenty of awesome parts of the hobby that mean collectors will have a great time in Chicago. Earlier in the day, Dr. J himself stopped by to see the display of his own game-used uniforms and trophies that SCP Auctions has put together. Julius Erving is still magic for basketball fans and even though his hair is gray and he probably can't dunk from the free throw line anymore, he's one of those athletes that causes a buzz. You can see him in the photos from the show taken by Beckett Media:
I also saw an incredible Joe Jackson signed document that will be part of an upcoming SCP auction. It involves the sale of Jackson's cigar and pool hall to a former teammate in 1925.
The show itself has been very good, according to most dealers. That's a great sign but not atypical for Chicago. I dare say it might be wise to keep the show here permanently. I sense some of the little guys with limited inventory are struggling a bit, especially those in the back of the hall, but for the most part, dealers say they are constantly helping customers. Anyone who says the baseball card business is dying should be forced to come here. I suspect the next two days will be even busier and, strangely enough, the legal issues that got most of the attention Thursday may bring awareness to a lot of folks who weren't otherwise planning on coming or didn't know about the show.
Leaf Trading Cards has signed Ichiro to an autograph deal. On card autographs will appear in the company's products later this year. He's been a notoriously tough guy for card companies to lasso but apparently Leaf offered enough cabbage to get his autograph on the contract.