1990's New York Yankee Fan Festival

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Greg2600
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1990's New York Yankee Fan Festival

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This one will be photo-heavy (I guess), but here's go. Back I guess in the late 80's, for whatever the reason, my father took an interest in collecting trading cards as an adult. My friends and I used to go to the card shows, and he brought us to a few and I guess grew interested. Well, in a short period of time, he and HIS friends had begun operating the shows themselves, ha ha ha. We often had our our table, and this would give us access to whoever the pro sports signing guest might be. We stayed local though. You've seen wild card shows at hotels listed from back then where Mickey Mantle would sign for 10 bucks or whatever it was! Well that usually wasn't the ones we did. The guys who ran it had regular blue collar jobs, they couldn't afford the appearance fees of some of those guys back then. Usually they had local sports guys, or others who lived or played nearby. Anyway, over time my father opened a baseball card and memorabilia store in our town a few blocks from where we lived. We often would hit up the local sport teams training grounds to get their autographs with my friends. We'd also get to the ballparks early to both graph them going into the stadium, and once inside, near the dugout while they were warming up. We did this for the better part of a decade, largely ceasing once I went to college. The store was closed down in 2001, mainly because the trading card companies had ruined the hobby. There were also so much fake memorabilia (likely 2/3 to 3/4 of everything), that we couldn't sell anything hardly. We'd get nothing but complaints, and back then there was no JSA/PSA to verify what you had.

Anywho, one of our favorite events to cover was the New York Yankees Fan Festival, held annually the first weekend of February in Manhattan. Originally they had it at the Javits Center, before moving to the now-defunct New York Coliseum. I think we missed the first one, because we never heard of it, but quickly caught wind. They would advertise in the newspaper as well. Essentially the players appeared for FREE, with proceeds going to the Yankee Foundation charity. We wound up going every year thereafter until they last held the show in 1997. The was the first one after they won the World Series, and it was a total disaster, so much so that the team had to stop doing them. This was by far, the GREATEST fan autograph event, if you were a fan of the team at least, that was IMO ever run. Given the sheer number of people who came, it was pretty organized. As you'll see in the programs I've scanned, they would have a bunch of booths setup, where players would rotate in and out. Obviously trying to secure the huge names like Mattingly, Reggie, and eventually Jeter was very tough. You had to be there at dawn to get a spot in the line before they left. As a result, my friends and I usually focused on the rookies and other vets who had short lines. My father and his friends focused on the retired players, who often had no problem signing a half dozen or more items in one shot. There was rarely more than 4 or 5 people waiting so nobody said anything. We sold those old timers in our store no problem. The price to get in was $35 I think every year, it never went up. My dad made a good living off there! Ha ha. My friends and I pitched in, as we often had games of our own to see how many baseballs we could fill up in an hour, breezing through line after line. We were teenagers so again, they didn't say anything.

Now when it came to photos, the big names usually had a nasty handler standing by yelling at you to hurry up. Still got them though, including my infamous Jeter shot from '96. My dad was in most of them, because he used them as "proof shots" in our store. He had them hanging all over the place, and when we closed up, he threw a lot of them away! D'OH! Last week, I went through what I could easily find, and scanned them, along with some of the balls and cards signed that I still had around. This was really a highlight of the year for us, and usually had more fun than say going to Disney World! Funny thing is my father absolutely HATES going to any kind of fan event now.

1992 Collector Sheet

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1993 Program Sheet

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1994 Program Sheet

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1994 Pennant and Sweater (yes I worn one of those)

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Me with Don Larsen

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Jimmy Key with me and my friend Jay

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Jim Abbott and Paul O'Neill and the Scooter Phil Rizzuto

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Me with Rick Cerone

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World Series Trophy

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1995 Program Sheet

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Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto

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1996 Program Sheet

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Mickey Mantle's son David

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Derek Jeter

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Joe Girardi

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Mickey Rivers

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1997 Program Sheet

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Jeter again

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Mike Stanton and Gene Michael

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Signed Cards

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Signed Balls

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mrira
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Re: 1990's New York Yankee Fan Festival

Post by mrira »

Really awesome stuff, wish I had heard of this back in the 90's.
ICW
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Re: 1990's New York Yankee Fan Festival

Post by ICW »

Incredible post, man! Thank you so much for sharing this.

I wish time travel were possible haha. Ugh.
Feel free to visit my blog concerning wrestling conventions, signings, and meet & greets!
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WOODMO
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Re: 1990's New York Yankee Fan Festival

Post by WOODMO »

AWESOME! I am shocked so many of those signed vinyl balls held up so well all things considered. I had leather OMLB balls suffer worst fates in less amount of time.

Truly an incredible value. Jeter nowadays won't be had for under 3 grand!
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