In my Dallas Card Show story yesterday. I mentioned that I had made several purchases and trades. One group of cards I did not mention I had purchased was a group of 1993 unopened wax boxes from one of the vendors. I purchased a Select, Bowman and two OPC Premier boxes for a total of $52 and was hoping to pull at least one Derek Jeter rookie from each box. On that level we had success as two Jeter RC’s popped out of the Select box and a Jeter RC along with a second year Mariano Rivera (I was surprised when I saw the Beckett BV of that card) and an Andy Pettitte RC came out of the Bowman box. In my opinion, the Pettitte cards are undervalued in today’s market as I would personally price that equal to the second year Rivera. That is opinion, not based on any market values as an FYI.
However, what really got me thinking while opening the Select box was thinking of Pinnacle CEO Jerry Meyer. The first time I ever heard him speak was at some event during the 1994 National Sports Collectors Convention when he made a few announcements about how future products would be hobby based. The dealers in attendance basically gave him a standing ovation and at that exact moment the future looked great for Pinnacle, the dealers and the hobby as a whole. However, within a few days, the baseball strike would begin and was shortly followed by a hockey lockout and the business changed permanently.
Now Pinnacle’s big push, and one could see that even with the Select box in 1993, was to make a bigger box so more space would be devoted to their product in the hobby store areas. That lead to such innovations as Pinnacle Inside which was also known as ‘cards in a can’ and Zenith which came in larger packages.
One thing about the 1994 National was since the show was so close to Dallas (one hour flight on Southwest) that Dr. Beckett offered everyone in the company the opportunity to fly down to the National for one day (obviously people in the price guide, editorial or sales area) could and would spend more than one day at the show. For the few weeks prior to the show, I think the busiest person in the office was Sherry Monday who coordinated all our trips with our travel agent. It’s hard to remember, but 1994 was way before we all started booking flights on line and much more people contact was needed. There is also the story of how I “stole” a cab in Houston for a bunch of us but that is another story for another time.
Within five years after that speech Pinnacle would be out of business and while nothing about people losing their jobs are funny there was a Sports Illustrated like jinx involved with the Beckett magazines and Pinnacle’s demise. You see, during the summer of 1998 both the editors and the price guide staff were polled about various topics including who we believed was the card company of the year. I do not know how everyone voted but Pinnacle won our in-house poll and we ran that article in each of our core magazines for a month. The only drawback was the day we went to press with the baseball magazine was the exact day Pinnacle closed their doors, So for the next month all our magazines had the Pinnacle card company story and they were no longer in business.
Interestingly, in researching the story I found out that Meyer pulled the plug on Pinnacle because he thought the sports card field was in an irreversible decline. My opinion is that Pinnacle, as well as the other card companies, made a logical decision after the baseball strike ended and focused more heavily on the hobby and those who would spend more money instead of trying to re-grow the business and really helping newcomers into the hobby. I know we all at Beckett were aware of that dichotomy in the mid 1990′s where we knew our circulation numbers were dropping as everyone was retrenching. Looking back almost 20 years now, I think we have ended up about where we would have ended up as with the decline in all sorts of brick and mortar stores we are now more internet based and there is a ton of activity on-line. I will also say based on the 2013 Dallas Card Show experience, there is also still plenty of room for interpersonal activities. And whatever I can do to keep that interpersonal activity going I will do so.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]