- GEN - Stringer memorabilia pops up on Net

Wednesday, August 8
Stringer memorabilia pops up on Net

Tommy Phelps, a 37-year old Vikings fan from Tennessee, logged on to eBay early last Wednesday morning in search of a signed piece by Korey Stringer, who had died hours earlier. There were four items listed.

Five hours later, there were 138 items.

Despite the great seller's market, in which prices of celebrity memorabilia are severely inflated as a result of an untimely death, Phelps was the highest bidder on an auction for a Stringer-signed mini helmet. The price he got it for on Monday? $305.

Phelps said he would have paid $350. That's about 1,000 percent more than he would have expected to pay had the Pro Bowl tackle been alive.

The seller, who requested anonymity, said he was at the morning practice in Mankato, Minn. last Monday morning when he obtained Stringer's autograph by the fence near the locker room. He said he realizes some fans might think it distasteful that he posted three Stringer-autographed items on eBay just hours after Stringer died.

"I'm a fan," he said, "but also a smart businessman."

Besides the $305 Vikings helmet, he sold a Stringer-signed Ohio State helmet for $152.50 and an 8-by-10 autographed photo for $85.99.

"Some people say, how could you sell that now?" said Steve Grad, an autograph authenticator for Mastronet, a sports memorabilia auction house. "But the fact is that people overpay for autographs right after someone dies."

Grad said there should be no lack of signed pieces from Stringer, at least in the immediate future.

"He will always be remembered by collectors as a great signer," Grad said. "He made it a point to always sign for the fans."

The cost of a good view
Did you know it will cost you more than $1,000 a game if you bought a football season ticket at the 50-yard line at the University of Texas this year? We took the top 10 from the preseason ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and arranged the poll in order of cost of the highest-priced 50-yard line ticket per game, assuming you first purchased these ducats this year. All prices include the flat season-ticket price, combined with the required donation.

School Cost per game Comment
Texas $1,039 Everything is bigger in Texas. With a $5,000 per seat donation and only 5 home games, that's what you get.
Oklahoma $746.43 National Championship raised flat season-ticket price 55 percent from $145 to $225.
Tennessee $663 Shady west side per seat donation is $15,000 for a block of four. Sunny east side sets you back $10,000.
Florida $289.66 Close enough to hear Steve Spurrier giggle as he beats Tennessee again at the Swamp.
Oregon $283.33 School has to make some money back from $250,000 Joey Harrington billboard in Times Square.
Virginia Tech $236.33 Less bang for your buck, now that the Hokies are Vick-less.
Nebraska $176.50 No arguments here. Included in the season-ticket package are Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Kansas State, as well as the Pigskin Classic against TCU.
Miami $120.83 $500 per seat donation -- having your car stolen is free.
Michigan $47.00 No donations necessary. That is, not unless you want to donate to the keeper of the waiting list.
Florida State N/A Asks for a minimum annual donation of $5,500 (which enables up to 16 seats if available). Primarily based on booster points system.

Does anyone have an arena deodorizer?
The NBA preseason schedule includes stops in Las Vegas, State College (Pa.) and Biloxi and overseas in Tokyo, Mexico City and Germany. But one of the most obscure stops has to be in Redmond, Ore. at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds & Expo Center, where the Kings and the Blazers will play Oct. 12. Over the next three months, the building will host the Pee Wee Rodeo, Sheriff Driver Training and the Oregon Pheasant Breeders Association.

What does The Answer want in his kitchen?
Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson married Tawanna Turner on Friday night at the Mansion in Voorhees Township (N.J.). Here's what the newlyweds requested for the kitchen, according to a Williams-Sonoma gift registry obtained by

Item Price Comment
A soft grip meat tenderizer $10 Hard grip would hurt Allen's hands
Stainless steel spaghetti tongs $14 Meant "spaghetti thongs"
12-inch flat bottom wok $118 Nothing like a little postgame STIR FRY!
12 cup muffin pan $16 Muffin but net
Champagne holder $179 Don't chill champagne until June 2005

Freaking about a leaking
Last Friday night, the Red Sox-Rangers matchup at Fenway was postponed because of rain and lightning. The 89-year old ballpark wasn't holding up too well as Red Sox players had to tread through waist-high waters in the passage between the dugout and the clubhouse.

To some, it was a sign from above that a new Fenway needs to be built. "Save Fenway Park, my ass," groaned Pedro Martinez, whose sign from above included a falling, overhead light panel which almost plunked him on the head. That was better than Red Sox catcher Chris Stynes' sign from above. He was actually hit on his shoulder by a ceiling tile.

Recent comments from the local media advocating the building of a completely new park prompted Erika Tarlin, a member of the board of directors of Save Fenway Park! -- the group working for modernization and renovation of Fenway Park -- to write this on a stadium issues message board:

"Amazing, of course, is that this brink of crumbling, edge of condemnation disaster zone could host yet another full house just the next day (for a doubleheader) and the OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) wasn't there to chain the gates shut to protect the populace."

Front Office realism
Just like the professional sports fans who like to pretend they are general managers, many college football fans love putting themselves in the role of the athletic director or head coach. They advocate what players to recruit, criticize the schedule and the style of play. But most video games only let them control the latter.

Thanks to Jim Gindin, creator of Front Office Football games, college football fans can pick their school, hire eight scouts to recruit players from a database of 14,000 high schools and coordinate the season schedule. In "The College Years," when a player completes the season, he or she is ranked in six categories including on-field performance and overall revenue. The school makes money based on the ticket price that the player sets at the beginning of the season (player can set prices for all levels), alumni donations and how many games are broadcast on national television.

While the program is largely text-based instead of graphic, the features are unbelievably real. A coach at your small school turns around your program, you get an email that he's left for a better school. Risk recruiting a kid who doesn't care about school, he might fail out. A junior at your major program destroys the competition, he's off to the NFL draft.

"The fun is in creating the rosters and making the (off-the-field) decisions," Gindin said. "Then let the athletes do what they want."

Sports management games are among the mainstream in Europe, Gindin said, where "Championship Manager" -- a soccer simulation -- is among the most popular games.

Gindin has sold 1,800 copies since the game debuted last month. The game, which costs $34.95, can only be purchased online at

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for, can be reached at He can be seen on ESPNNEWS each Wednesday afternoon and during his "Money Talks" segment each Sunday morning on SportsCenter.


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