It’s been a good week to be Dickie V.
Once upon a time, he was a nearsighted, unemployed basketball coach. Now, Dick Vitale is a handsomely paid sports celebrity, a new member-to-be of the Basketball Hall of Fame and even has his own trading card deal.
Donruss recently made an autograph agreement with the popular college basketball analyst. In fact, the company recently completed a private signing with the enthusiastic Vitale, known for his catch phrases and high-energy commentary for ESPN.
Vitale autographed cards will first appear in Donruss Americana II, set to release this summer. More signed cards will be inserted into the popular collegiate themed product, Donruss Elite Extra Edition. Company officials report Vitale signed stickers that will be placed on the cards as well as separate autographs that will be built into trading cards and include some of his catch-phrase notations including: "Its Awesome Baby" , "Dickie V" , "Mr. College Basketball" and "Dipsy Doo Dunkeroo"
"It’s amazing that in the competitive basketball market you can still find someone this popular that hasn’t had a certified autograph card," said Marketing Director Scott Prusha. "This is another first for the industry and another way we are creatively providing content that nobody else has to make the Americana and Elite Extra Edition Series the most popular in the industry."
Vitale’s career started in the coaching ranks, first for the University of Detroit and then for the NBA’s Detroit Pistons. After being fired by the Pistons early in the 1979-80 season, he decided to take a job at ESPN, then a fledgling cable television network. Thinking it was just a temporary role until another coaching job became available, Vitale never left. The 2008-09 season will be Vitale’s 30th with the company which now bills itself ‘the world-wide leader in sports’.
Donruss Americana series II will release in July and Celebrity Cuts will reach hobby shops in mid-April.