Mike Berkus, founder and executive director of the National Sports Collectors Convention since 1980, died Friday after a short battle with brain cancer according to friends. He was 69.
The news caught many in the hobby by surprise. Berkus had coordinated this summer’s show in Chicago and had been planning the 2016 event in Atlantic City.
A Minnesota native, he made his home in southern California, site of the first NSCC event 35 years ago.
Berkus served as director of the NSCC, with long-time friend John Broggi as co-director.
“I picture the National as a huge, fun amusement park,” Berkus told Sports Collectors Daily in a 2014 interview. “I don’t question which ride is the most popular, I just want each person who attends the show, to enjoy their favorite ride.”
“I know many, many people will miss Mike Berkus,” stated Ray Schulte, the National’s public relations director. “When Mike and John Broggi asked me to start working with them years ago I was extremely honored and accepted on the spot. I always looked forward to that phone call or meeting with Mike. He was a visionary and really cared about his staff, corporate partners, exhibitors and everyone whoever attended a National Sports Collectors Convention. A class act, a good friend and a great family man.”
Etta Hersh, President of the NSCC Board of Directors, reported the company’s leadership team will continue in their present responsibilities. No changes are anticipated in the company’s day-to-day business activities.
In a Facebook post, TriStar Productions’ Jeff Rosenberg, whose company partnered with the NSCC to bring in dozens of autograph guests each year, called Berkus “one of a kind”.
Rosenberg stated he had spoken with Berkus recently.
“I told him that the National will always go on and he knows our team at TRISTAR Productions will work tirelessly to keep his ‘baby’ at the top.”
Mike Berkus is survived by his wife Sher; his children, Nate Berkus, Steven Berkus, Daniel Berkus and Robert Berkus. Memorial Services were scheduled for Tuesday, November 24.
— Upper Deck (@UpperDeckSports) November 21, 2015
Sending our condolences to the family of Mike Berkus (longtime friend of our CEO). We lost a great man and a hobby pioneer. Surely missed. — Leaf Trading Cards (@Leaf_Cards) November 22, 2015
RIP Mike Berkus. Hobby pioneer. Founder of National Sports Collectors Convention. Great guy and good friend thoughts and prayers to family
— Goldin Auctions (@GoldinAuctions) November 21, 2015
ThePit will never forget how Mike Berkus spent hours with us making sure that our #NSCC experience was optimal. Rest In Peace Mike.
— thePit (@ThePitCards) November 22, 2015