Rich Klein’s Ramblings: Beckett Grading’s Debut Was One to Remember

Beckett Grading Services (otherwise known in the hobby as BGS) has now been around and successful for more than 15 years.  One show I especially remember which really showed just how much of a player in the grading field BGS had become was the 2000 National in Anaheim. Beckett had big plans for the 2000 National both in terms of a corporate presence as well as for grading.  The company had set up a budget to feed dealers each morning (as a former dealer I can assure you the way to any card dealers business is through their stomach) while at the same time a reasonably new hobby character was being created to generate collector interest.

Richs Ramblings SuperfanThe always energetic Scott Prusha was also known as ‘Superfan’ and in fact there are still signed and graded copies of his Superfan cards available. Nearly 15 years later I still am amazed by how well Scott could pump up a group of collectors at an event. That trait serves him well in his current role at Panini.

Michael Jordan BGS 9.5 rookieBeckett was also sending all or almost all of their analysts to the show as well as a full corporate staff. Well, all of these events as well as some exciting grades such as a couple of BGS 9.5s awarded 1986-87 Fleer Michael Jordan rookie cards made this an really exciting time. I remember hearing about those grades as I was at DFW airport and getting ready to board the flight along with a couple of other Beckett staffers. I was told we were doing well at the show but no one was ready for the next few days.

Well, everything Beckett did at that show was so successful that with the exception of yours truly, every analyst was plucked off the floor and sent to the booth for work because BGS received so many cards at the show for on-site grading. After that experience, Beckett now does a couple of things. One, backup BGS personnel was already ready to fly to the National on short notice and there are limits to how many cards the graders are going to grade during the convention. In fact, when I stopped by the Beckett booth at this year’s National on Saturday, the only services left available for the show were the “front of the line” grading in which submissions pay extra for near immediate service.  I will tell you, the graders appreciate having a limit on the number of cards they have to grade in the short period of time.

Many of the BGS graders are collectors as well and one of them asked me to chase down an Eric Davis 1985 Topps Rookie Card since he had an autograph ticket for Mr. Davis. I am happy to report that yes, even 1985 Topps Eric Davis rookies can be found at the National and if I had more time I would have found him the Jack McDowell card he wanted  as well. In addition, Senior Card Grader Andy Broome is a well-known artist and his cartoon book is a real treat for anyone who has a copy.

But rest assured for the graders’ sanity, the events of the 2000 National will never be repeated.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]