By Ray Schulte
It was a cold night, a wet snow hitting Baltimore when I attended a recent Sports Boosters of Maryland fundraising banquet dinner at the Pikesville Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Stan Charles and new Sports Boosters president Scott Eisgrau asked me to provide several high-profile pieces of memorabilia for the event's silent auction and raffle.
I was introduced to the Sports Boosters of Maryland non-profit organization last fall thanks to Stan Charles and former president Eddie Wingrat when Ironclad provided signed items for the dinner. The event was extremely well-organized, entertaining and a great place to network and talk sports and collectibles with real sports enthusiasts. I was so moved by the spirit and charitable contribution the organization offered that I joined Sports Boosters in early January, 2009.
Over the years, they have honored local and national athletes including Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr., Art Modell, Sugar Ray Leonard, Kirby Puckett, Ray Lewis, Chuck Thompson, Eddie Murray and Jim Palmer. Some of the organizations that have benefitted from funds raised by the Sports Boosters include Ronald McDonald House, Leon Day Foundation, Inner City/Suburban Youth Foundation, The Bennett Institute, Greater Baltimore Urban League, the Jewish Big Brothers/Big Sisters as well as many more local youth groups.
I arrived early for the January 27th dinner to set up the silent auction and coordinate the raffle with the volunteer Sports Boosters event staff. After setting up, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with many of the members during the cocktail reception. Not surprisingly, they had questions concerning collectible items and collections they have in their possession, many passed down within the family. Others asked advice about the current state of affairs as it pertains to the economy and the memorabilia business.
Given the weather, I was pleased to see that over 75 braved the ice and snow to attend and welcome guest featured speaker Orioles president, Andy MacPhail. Eisgrau thanked everyone for their past and current support and announced they re-launched their website - www.sportsboosters.com.
He then went on to introduce Andy MacPhail who spoke about the Orioles commitment to their fans. The Sports Boosters members were supportive and thankful for McPhail's effort and organizational results to-date.
The Sports Boosters have been an integral part of Maryland's sports scene since 1950. The all-volunteer organization works extremely hard to raise much needed financial support for local and regional youth athletics. If you are interested in sports and helping kids, visit their website or call 410-440-4443 to get more information on how you can join and/or support this great organization.
The Orioles have officially announced Saturday, April 4, 2009 from 9:00a.m.-3:30p.m. at Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the date, time and location for this year's Orioles FanFest.
The open workout and daylong celebration to start the 2009 season is a great opportunity for Oriole fans, especially kids, to meet their favorite Orioles players.
Fans and collectors alike can get free autographs in person and watch the team workout before the season officially begins. Memorabilia exhibitors will be set up on the concourse with products ranging from autographs, player's used game equipment, licensed
If you are looking to attend and want to purchase an admission ticket, please visit www.orioles.com, the Orioles Box Office or any TicketMaster outlet. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for both children 14 and under and fans 55 and over. If you are a memorabilia dealer looking to exhibit, please contact Ms. Heather O'Donnell at 888-848-BIRD to request a FanFest exhibitor application.
TOUGH DECISIONS FOR PHELPS
When the widely circulated photo of Michael Phelps inhaling from a marijuana pipe was published, many would assume his representatives at Octagon recommend he immediately admit to the authenticity of the photo and apologize. Instead, the media spent significantly more time investigating and speculating on whether the photo was doctored.
Think back to 2004, after his DUI arrest, Phelps was forthright in admitting he let many people down, including himself, and that he learned a valuable lesson. Granted, he did not have as much to lose financially as he does today; character, work ethic, family and wholesome personality, appeased those who may have been quick to judge.
Winning 14 gold medals is an amazing accomplishment but the notoriety also comes with tremendous temptations, especially for a young adult who wants to act the age of a typical 23-year-old. Phelps will have to be very aware of his surroundings from now on. I'm sure Octagon will remind him of that. Twice you can profess your apologies and learn from your mistakes, but by the third incident, it might be hard for most people to comprehend, especially those who look up to him as a role model around the world.
Sponsors and Grandstand Sports, the New York memorabilia company that signed Phelps to a one-year exclusive signature deal for autographed photos, USA swim caps and Sports Illustrated covers, will be watching how Phelps conducts himself going forward.
Given the current recessionary climate, the athlete's memorabilia market value can be negatively affected, especially if the athlete is associated with a lifestyle that abuses the moral fiber we as Americans imagine for our role models.
Issue 134: February 2009