Doug Keating was a freshman at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, when he got the idea for a Presidents Day sports card show.
That was in 1991. Twenty-eight years later, the show is stronger than ever and will return to the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Massachusetts, on Feb. 18. There will be 85 tables set up for the sports card and autograph show, with hourly door prizes and free packs for all visitors.
Admission is $2 for adults and children 12 and under are free. The autograph headliner will be former world middleweight and lightweight champion Vinny Paz (formerly known as Vinny Pazienza until he legally changed his last name in 2001); fans can have the 56-year-old’s autograph for $13, with additional autographs going for $10 apiece, Former Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts also will be signing; the cost has yet to be announced.
Keating said more athletes who will sign autographs at the show will be announced when they confirm their appearance.
Attendees can also pose for a free photo with the Lombardi Trophy and the Patriots militia men.
Before coming up with the idea of a Presidents Day show, Keating, who grew up in Woburn, Massachusetts, honed his skills by setting up his own tables at card shows when he was in high school.
“I collected cards as a kid,” Keating said. “I’d set up tables for a few shows as a vendor at a card show.
“I’d sell cards at the VFW when I was a senior in high school.”
But during his freshman year in college en route to earning a degree in economics and finance, Keating decided to organize his own show. He found that holidays worked, so he targeted Presidents Day. The timing was good — the show was held after the Super Bowl and just before spring training, attracting fans from both sports. Plus, the NBA and NHL seasons were in full swing.
“There were so many shows on Sunday,” Keating said. “I tried to schedule around them. So, I scheduled a show on a Monday holiday, figuring most people are off on holidays.”
Keating also made sure he was in a good location, correctly figuring that a high-traffic area would be like a magnet for collectors.
“I wanted something off the highway,” Keating said. “So, I found something between I-95 and I-495.
“When you find two (major) roads, it’s the best.”
As the show has grown, Keating has been able to line up for big names for autographs. He began including autograph sessions in the Presidents Day show beginning in 2003. Some of the more notable signers included Dave Cowens and Robert Parish of the Boston Celtics, and Jim Rice, Rico Petrocelli and Johnny Pesky of Boston Red Sox fame. Keating even has a signed photograph of Schmidt and Pesky, who would pull on a hockey sweater to practice with the Bruins from time to time.
His favorite celebrity signer is a man Keating refers to as “Mr. Bruin,” former NHL playing star and coach Milt Schmidt. A member of the famed “Kraut Line,” Schmidt died in January 2017 at the age of 98. He won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins as a player in 1939 and 1941 and two times more as the team’s general manager. He coached a dozen years and then assembled the Bruins’ Stanley Cup champions as GM in 1970 and 1972.
Keating balances his time as a card show organizer — the Mansfield show is one of 17 he puts on during the year — with selling life insurance for the Savings Bank Mutual Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts, which is located in his hometown of Woburn. He is also a father of a 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter, so budgeting time is necessary.
“People think I have this big man cave in my basement, but it’s the kids’ area too,” Keating said. “I mean, I’ve got some stuff but I’ve got to share the space.”
Keating will be happy to share the space with other dealers at the Holiday Inn in Mansfield on Feb. 18.
More information on the Cardboard Promotions shows throughout the year is available here.