Nov. 3-5 Greater Boston Sports Collectors Club show report

Technology has come to the hobby marketplace and it could be seen throughout the three-day Greater Boston Sports Collectors Club show Nov. 3-5 at the Shriners’ Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass.

The large hall was filled with hundreds of dealer tables, thousands of collectors, multiple Hall of Fame autograph guests and computers in the hands of numerous collectors and dealers.

The days of collectors standing at dealer tables crossing off the numbers of newly purchased cards from oversized notebooks are quickly disappearing, as the age of technology has begun to usher in a new era of cataloging collections.

Hobbyists throughout the GBSCC show could be seen using their laptop notebooks to quickly find and update their want lists and to prevent the collector’s nightmare of buying cards that were already purchased earlier at a show.

“Bringing my laptop to shows makes collecting so much easier,” said collector Carl Doherty of Marlborough, Mass. “I don’t have to hassle with multiple notebooks for different parts of my collecting anymore as I can carry my laptop and quickly find all needed information in one place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased an item that I already had in my collection. With my computerized want lists, I rarely have these types of problems anymore.”

Collectors aren’t the only group in the hobby using computers, as the dealer sides of the tables have become computerized, also. Dealers could be seen updating inventory immediately after sales or purchases of collectibles. Hobby specialists such as authenticators and grading specialists were manned with some of the hobby’s newest technology at the show, also.

James Spence, one of the leaders in the field of autographs and autograph authentication, spent all three days of the show using his company’s technology to authenticate autographs from many of the New England collectors in attendance.

“For many years, I’ve had the opportunity to help people involved in our hobby to be sure that their items are accurate and quality pieces,” said Spence. “It’s always great to tell someone that their piece is genuine, but sometimes I have to break the bad news that their item is not real. I’m honored that so many collectors and dealers have trusted me to verify their items and the amazing items brought in by the collectors in New England are always great to see. I’ve been coming to this show for many years and it’s always professionally run with some of the most knowledgeable collectors and dealers in the hobby.”

Some of the dealers attending the show have been a part of the GBSCC landscape long before technology entered the marketplace. Lorry Ellis, Don Hontz, Ron Johnsen, Paul Longo, Tom Shaughnessy, Jeff Oxman, Peter D’Amico and Donald Squires were recognized during the event as the eight dealers who have attended the show for all 21 years it has been in existence.

Squires, a book dealer from Pennsylvania and known from coast to coast in the hobby, continued his streak of 21 years at the GBSCC show.

“I’ve traveled all over the country attending shows including numerous Nationals and the GBSCC show is always one of my favorite events,” said Squires. “People are friendly and like to talk about the hobby. Of course, I want to sell my collectibles, but it’s just as important to me to see the many friends I’ve made in the Boston area over the years. This show brings a lot of the hobby’s best people together and it’s a fun three days.”

Along with the dealers, thousands of collectors have been attending the GBSCC show since it first opened its doors, also.

Les Masterson of Malden, Mass., has been walking the aisles of GBSCC shows since the 1980s and has been able to add to his collection at every event.

“This is the one show that I never miss, as the quality of items is the best in the hobby,” said Masterson. “I’ve been able to purchase many needed cards, programs, ticket stubs, books and autographs for my collection at this show throughout the years. The diversity of the items available is always amazing and I’ve gotten some great deals from many of the dealers over the years including Tedy Murray, Ron Vitro and Don Squires. Another great aspect of this show is the quality of the autograph guests. Dick Gordon has been bringing in some of baseball’s best for many years and I’ve had a lot of my items signed by his guests. This year is no exception as he’s brought another Hall of Fame lineup to the show.”

Gordon’s Saturday lineup included two Hall of Famers who can lay claim to having two of the finest seasons in baseball history. Carl Yastrzemski and Frank Robinson, the only two living Triple Crown winners, took center stage in the autograph area with hundreds of collectors ready to have their items signed by the baseball living legends. Robinson claimed his Triple Crown in 1966 for the Baltimore Orioles while Yaz donned the crown in 1967 leading the Red Sox to the Impossible Dream American League pennant. Both autograph guests signed for long lines of collectors while greeting many with handshakes and posing for pictures.

While Robinson was asked about his recent departure as manager from the Washington Nationals, Yaz was questioned about the 1967 race for the pennant. Yaz returned for more questions and autographs on Sunday along with Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr and Juan Marichal and Red Sox Hall of Famer Mel Parnell.

Parnell holds a special place in New England baseball history as a quality left-handed pitcher for the Red Sox during the 1940s and 1950s, including throwing a no-hitter in 1956 and being a Red Sox broadcaster for many years.

Along with arranging this year’s autograph line-up, Dick Gordon has been the architect of many of the autograph sessions at GBSCC shows. He has been a successful promoter throughout the country, but finds the New England area to be one of the best in the hobby.

“It’s always enjoyable to come to New England and to be a part of the GBSCC show,” said Gordon. “Working with the GBSCC Board of Directors and the New England collectors has made coming to this show something I look forward to on a yearly basis. I hope to continue my association with the GBSCC shows for many years.”

Peter D’Amico, vice president of the GBSCC, echoed Gordon’s remarks and commented on the how the show coordinators views autograph sessions at its event.

“As a group, the board of directors want to offer our membership and all New England collectors the chance to receive autographs from top athletes at fair prices,” offered D’Amico. “This is one of the reasons we turn to Dick Gordon to bring in our autograph guests. Over the years, he has brought many Hall of Fame ballplayers to our shows who charge decent prices and treat our collectors and dealers with respect. We all realize that without the support of the collectors and dealers, the GBSCC wouldn’t exist. We want the GBSCC to continue to be one of the top shows in the entire hobby and we will always work hard to
bring the best to our membership in the years to come.”

– By Michael J. Mahoney

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