Fans fork it over for autographs of two USC stars before they head to their NFL homes at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Anaheim.
The sports memorabilia industry's annual gathering is a bit of an odd mix. Autograph guests sign for pay, vintage card collectors–most oblivious to the big-name stars– search the hundreds of tables for cards on their 'want lists'. Auction houses show off their consignments for future multi-million dollar events designed mostly for deep pocketed collectors and corporate vendors set up booths for the publicity value.
Despite the looming presence of eBay, the National is still a must for many involved in the $1 billion industry. The show began Wednesday with a 'sneak peek' for those who'd purchased VIP admissions. Thursday's crowds began filing in at 10 AM and remained fairly steady until the doors closed at 6 PM. Most dealers reported solid sales despite a less-than spectacular attendance.
They were a little late, but Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, the Heisman twins from USC, did accommodate several hundred fans who paid some decent cash to secure signatures Wednesday night.
The appearance by Bush came just a day before his scheduled reporting date to New Orleans Saints' camp. Talks heated up between his agent and the Saints on a contract for the rookie running back but the southern California crowd was more interested in his college career, bringing helmets, jerseys and photos for the running back to sign. Leinart, the '05 Heisman winner, sported a beard as he and Bush penned their names on jerseys, helmets, pictures and other memorabilia to the tune of $89 (or more depending on the item signed) per signature.
It's the first time the National has been on the west coast since Anaheim played host in 2000. It moves to Cleveland in 2007.