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Four Page Written Account of 

The 28th Annual 2007 

National Sports Collectors Convention

Including Pre Con Venture to 

Philadelphia and Adamstown PA


Carlton Hendricks



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The 28th annual 2007 National Sports Collectors Convention was held August 1 thru 5 at the IX Center in Cleveland Ohio. I believe it was one of the better Nationals in recent years for sports antiques. Although the show only went for five days I was gone eleven. As is my usual routine when going to a National I left a week early to do some exploring. Things got interesting right from the go. As I was walking thru the San Francisco airport I saw Willy Mays come out of the American Airlines Admirals Club. I made the mistake of asking permission to take his photo. He adamantly refused my request, waving me off with a gruff raised voice. He was out in public, I should have never asked, and just took one. He probably wouldn't  have noticed or cared. Although, I escorted him to his room once at the hotel I work at and my impression was; do it his way, and you’ll get along fine with him.


I flew from San Francisco to Philadelphia where I stayed for two nights and one day. I had always wanted to see Philadelphia, and since it was only 430 miles from there to Cleveland I went for it. The plan for the trip was to arrive in Philadelphia Thursday and rent a car, see the city Friday, leave for Adamstown Saturday morning, leave Adamstown Sunday afternoon and drive on to Cleveland for the National. In Philadelphia I saw Boat House Row, the sculpture on Kelly Drive, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Constitution Square. 


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The genuine article - A Philly cheese steak 

in Philly at Jim's Steaks on South Street


I lucked out a few days before I left. A guest at the hotel I work at was from Philly and I asked her where to get the best Philly cheese steak. She told me Jim’s Steaks on South Street is the best. The first night I got there I took a cab to Jim’s. She was right on; Jim’s definitely has it down. Simmering on the grill the was a large bed of top round sliced paper thin. I watched as the cook separated a spatula full of the cooked meat and formed a patty on the grill. He then opened a bun, painted it with cheese whiz, placed it open face over the patty, slid the spatula under it all and flipped the whole thing right side up, added the onions...and handed it to me. Take it from someone who is picky, it was excellent! Philadelphia’s two most well known places to get a cheese steak are Pat’s and Gino’s. They’re competitors, and face each other; both on ends of V shaped city blocks in “South Philly”, as it’s called. The next night I tried the cheese steak at Pat’s, and it couldn’t hold a candle to Jim’s. Plus the service was way nicer at Jim’s.



When I was planning my trip to Philly I emailed the Schuylkill Navy and asked for a hotel recommendation near Boat House Row. The Schuylkill Navy is the oldest amateur athletic governing body in the United States and comprises the ten rowing clubs of Boathouse Row. Clete Graham the Commodore was kind enough to hook me up with Joe Sweeny to give me a tour of the Row, and he was great. Joe was 70 had been rowing since college. Just looking at him you could tell he’s in excellent shape. He occasionally fills in on crew teams, and also coaches a women’s crew team. Joe  started the tour by graciously treating me to breakfast at a café near Boathouse Row frequented by  rowers. I ordered scrapple and eggs so I could try scrapple for the first time. Scrapple is basically a pork scrap meatloaf, served by the slice, indigenous to Pennsylvania.  It was ok, not bad. 


As we walked along on the tour it was obvious Joe was very well known and liked by the rowing community, especially the young ladies! Joe took me thru about three boathouses. I had asked Clete Graham if there was a rowing museum on the Row, he told me no. However, each boathouse is a museum in it’s self. They all had a good amount memorabilia, much of it dating from the 19th century. After about three or four houses, Joe told me he wished he could show me the Malta club’s house, as it had the most memorabilia, but that he didn’t have access to it since he wasn‘t a member. We walked up to it and Joe quickly found someone outside that he knew. He explained I was writing a story and asked if he could show me the inside. The gentleman graciously said he’d be glad to but they had just shellacked the floor. He checked to see if it was dry, and cautiously led us upstairs where I could see a good amount of incredible looking antique memorabilia on the walls. The gentleman said it was a shame we had come then as they had taken the display cases out for the shellac job, and that they would be back in a few days. It was wrenching not to be able to wander around and at least see all the stuff on the walls. However, being the floors might not be fully dry, Joe didn’t want to impose further and suggested we leave. Shortly after, Joe had to leave to coach his women’s rowing team, and my tour ended.


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Kelly Drive area of  Fairmont Park

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After that I drove further up Kelly Drive, which Boathouse Row sits on, and took in how incredibly scenic it is. There is a narrow strip of a park, about half a block wide, between Kelly Drive and the Schuylkill River (scoo-cul). Actually it’s all part of Philly’s Fairmont Park. From there, throughout the day you can see rowing action going on up and down the river. 8 man teams, 4 man teams, single sculls, and all type rowing endeavor. I’m sure there is more rowing going on there daily than anywhere in the country. I was struck by one lifeless aspect of the scenery; the bridge supports. I immediately recognized them from the Thomas Eakins rowing paintings he did in the late 19th century. For me that was exciting.


Another highlight was seeing Frederic Remington’s c1908 heroic bronze statue titled “Cowboy”, of a cowboy on a horse on the edge of a cliff. It’s the only outdoor public work Remington ever produced. I remembered reading how Remington had insisted on it’s location, which added meaning to seeing it in person. By the way, Remington played “rusher” on the 1879 Yale football team, and I have an 1879 Harvard vs. Yale football program which he’s listed in, along with Walter Camp.


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Frederic Remington's "Cowboy" in Fairmont Park

click for eleven detailed photos of this statue


I knew the “Cowboy” statue was in Fairmont Park, somewhere in the strip next to the river. I must have spent half an hour driving around looking for it. In desperation I ended up driving deeper into the park away from the river. Finally I found a park maintenance worker who tried to explain where it was. He ended up leading me to it in his city maintenance truck full of tree trimmings. Now that’s the City of Brotherly Love! Turned out it was on the opposite side of Kelly Drive from the strip, facing the river. Essentially you’re suppose to view it from across Kelly Drive; a distance of about 30 feet. Being a bronze statue aficionado, no way would that suffice. I dodged traffic, made it across, and climbed the embankment to where it was. Unavoidably I ravaged the flower bed that surrounds it while soiling my spotless white brand new K-Swiss. As is typical viewing outdoor sculpture, it was interesting to see the foundry marks, and the nuances of their work, but after that it’s kind of anti-climatic. It’s not like you get to take it home or anything, you look at it and it stays there; collectors like to take stuff home! The whole drawn out arduous history of the statue’s commission, from conception to casting to erection is detailed in Harold and Peggy Samuels' 1982 book “A Biography: Frederic Remington“.


That really was an excellent write up...Some truly amazing stuff...

-Brock, Jacksonville Florida

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After taking in the Remington and other statues I headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where I saw two of the greatest American sports paintings. Both by Thomas Eakins, “Between Rounds” a c1898 boxing painting, and “The Pair-Oared Shell”, a c1872 rowing painting . It was a special experience seeing them in person after seeing them in books, especially “Between Rounds”. The museum doesn't allow use of a flash and I'm no good without one, so my photos were lame.


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Washington Monument front of Philadelphia Museum of Art

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In the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of America’s largest outdoor displays of sculpture from the Beau-Arts (realism) era, the Washington Monument done in 1897 by Rudolf Siemering (German). It’s magnificent, and fitting to have so powerful a work directly in front of a power museum. On the right side of the front steps of the museum is another sculpture that technically isn’t art because it was created for a movie, but probably gets as much if not more attention as the colossal Washington Monument. I speak of the statue of Rocky Balboa. I stood for a while watching as one after another people have their picture taken in front of it. And then there was the Rocky dance on the front steps of the museum. Again it was a continual parade of picture taking as people do the Rocky - both fists over their head thing while getting their picture taken.


A note on the restaurants there at the museum. There was a regular sit down restaurant with a great looking buffet for $22.00. Next door to it was a jam packed cafeteria with a Costco-esque selection. I saw the $22.00 for the buffet and ran for the cafeteria. All the food there looked fantastic…too fantastic….they sell it by the ounce. By the time I gathered this and that and stood in a long line to pay, the bill came to $17.00! For a few bucks more get the buffet.


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Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

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From there is was off to Constitution Square where I saw the Liberty Bell, then took the last tour of the day to see Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed.


After Constitution Square I called up Joe and we went to Pat’s for another cheese steak. From there Joe took me to a posh rowing bar in the Rittenhouse Hotel, on Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. The owner of the hotel was a friend of Joe's, and it was explained to me the owner funds a good deal of rowing endevour of Boathouse Row, so they loan him memorabilia for his bar. 


There in the bar I got to know Joe a little more. Essentially he was Mr. Philadelphia. He had lived there all his life, and had known all the movers and shakers of the city for many decades. As we were walking thru Rittenhouse Square Joe pointed out where his father, who had been a doctor, had his office when he was growing up. Joe was retired from the City of Philadelphia as the Controller. He had been second in command of the City under the police chief. Amazingly he was even a close friend of Grace Kelly‘s, and had attended her wedding reception to Prince Rainer in Monaco. What an interesting person and what a pleasure to meet him.


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Various photos from Adamstown PA

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The next day I left Philadelphia for Adamstown Pennsylvania, about an hour away. I was surprised at the bumper to bumper traffic on Interstate 76 on a Saturday. It was my second visit to Adamstown. Adamstown is kind of the antique capital of the United States, or at least it used to be before eBay. The town abounds with antiques stores and there are two renowned antique flea markets, Renningers, and Stoudt’s, also called Black Angus. Also there’s another outdoor antique market, Shupps Grove, that is located in a forest of pine trees about 5 minutes outside Adamstown. A friend of mine, Jerry Director told me an interesting story. He said before the internet when Adamstown was on fire (in it’s hay-day), Shupps Grove would be so packed he would have to park two miles away and hike in. You just know Bob McCann , Corey Leiby , and David Hunt have been strip mining the town for decades. All them live in Pennsylvania within driving distance. By now they probably have pneumatic delivery tube systems from each store right to their living rooms. 


When I got to Adamstown, I started combing the stores as soon as I hit town. I started at one end and headed toward the other. Loosely, my plan was to see the Adamstown Antiques Gallery last. Sort of leaving the best for last. Adamstown Antiques Gallery is the best store in the town for antique advertising, toys and general Americana. Pretty much everything in the store is high quality. Plus it’s clean, well lit and air conditioned. It’s also the home of Morphy Auctions. But there was a problem….it was closed by the time I got there. Most of the stores stay open till at least 5:00PM but they closed at 4:00PM. I was dumbfounded. But I figured it was open the next day Sunday, so I’d see it then.


Your National story is fabulous! I like how you spotlight dealers and collectors. It is a great reference. I also like how you show the local shops and restaurants along the way. It is like I am watching the Travel Channel or an Antiques Digest Show. 
-Dr. John Gennantonio, Cincinnati Ohio

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The next morning I was up at 3:00AM and got to Renningers and Stroudt's by about 4:00AM. Unfortunately it rained and cut the number of dealers way down. It rained the last time I was there too! Both markets have some covered outdoor area so there was still a certain amount of activity. Plus both markets have sprawling indoor areas with many permanent dealers. My parade got rained on but it was still fun. All I had on was a short sleeved shirt and shorts and wasn’t a bit cold even at 4:00AM. I saw the same pattern of activity as the last time I was there. Stoudt’s Black Angus Antique Mall and Renninger’s Antiques/Collectibles Market are less than a mile apart, and they both open the same time, about 4:00AM. So in the early hours when dealers are slowly getting set up, collectors comb one market then hop in their car and head for the other. So there’s a lot of running back and forth between markets, and everyone’s doing the same thing.


After the markets I headed over to the Adamstown Antique Gallery. I was so beat I slept in my car for half an hour before I went in. Basically it was like going to a very good antiques show, it was full of great stuff. But as usual there was very little sports items. The one thing that stood out was a c1900, 12 1/2" plate with a batter and catcher illustrated on it, for $750.00. I himmed and hawed over it. I didn’t feel I needed it for my collection, but being I was on my way to the National I thought maybe I could flip it there. I’d seen the illustration on other porcelain pieces. I believe it was produced in Vienna. It’s strongest aspect was it’s deluxe 12 1/2" size, that I’d never seen before. I decided to get it, and naturally no one wanted it in Cleveland so I ended up owning it. When I got it home I was glad no one bought it, as it rounded out my baseball stuff with a large porcelain piece.


Leaving Adamstown Sunday afternoon I headed for Cleveland on Interstate 76. My estimated time of arrival was around 1:00AM. However I hit a rainstorm that was so bad it was too dangerous to drive, and had to get off the highway. I made it to a town called Camp Hill PA., near Carlisle. There I hunkered down in a Starbucks with internet, till the storm passed. I lost about 3 hours, and got to Cleveland about 4:00AM. Monday I got up late and took off for an antiques mall in Medina, then rested up that evening for the big day.




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