It was like box breaks of Heroes of Sport came out of nowhere. If you don’t follow the message boards, it seemed suddenly the hobby world was abuzz with some of the amazing hits that were coming out of this new product. The mysterious first ads for Heroes of Sport that were popping up in Beckett Magazine had a Babe Ruth signed baseball bat as its 1st place prize and a line that read, ” The rules of opening a box are about to change…the hobby will never be the same.”
Who was putting out this product? A former employee of another company? Whats a re-boxed product? I heard it was a long time collector. There are prizes from points? There’s a Babe Ruth bat! Then came the doubters– $500 a box? No way.
The truth was, this wasn’t just a repackaged product. Cards did have the rumored points and they could be redeemed for some amazing memorabilia items. How about a Derek Jeter game-used bat, or a ’52 Topps Micket Mantle –and, of course, the Babe Ruth baseball bat. But like anything else, this is a high risk- high reward product, there is no doubt about that.
Now with the first week of points live on Beckett.com , I had the privilege of speaking with the man behind the cardboard curtain, Will Jaimet. For collectors that lived through the hobby in the late 80’s and during the 90’s , we saw where things worked and where they eventually went wrong. Jaimet wasn’t a newcomer by any means. With his previous endeavor, Heroes of Sport Auctions, he’s been fortunate to essentially grow up around some of the top names in the hobby and have the gumption to put together something special. Something he feels will make the hobby better. But make no mistake; he’s definitely a collector, but also an eager business-minded individual. You’ll see his drive and determination as he tries to reinvent an aspect of the hobby.
1) You’ve been in the industry for 20+ years now-What are some of the biggest aspects of this hobby that you’ve seen change?
The biggest change I have ever seen happen at once was the introduction of eBay. I had my first eBay account in 1996, and at that time you couldn’t even upload pictures. In my area, I would say about 1 in 30 households had the internet and only a couple people really knew what eBay was for about that entire first year. The majority of users were on the east coast, so I quickly learned what was hot over there and bought cards in my area they were wanted out there. I remember Arod Sp rookies were on fire on the east coast, and they were everywhere out here because he was from Seattle. I probably sold over 100 of them in my first year on eBay.
2- What was the motivation behind starting Heroes of Sport Auctions? How did it come about?
I had a lot of experience in the auction business and always thought I could have a big impact. Then I got an opportunity to meet a minor league and college coach name Ed Olsen. Ed collected autographs his entire life and has a massive collection. He trusted in me and wanted me to help him sell everything as he was getting into his later years. I estimated that the collection was worth in the range of $700,000 when I first went through it (it ended up being worth around half that as some of the more expensive autos wouldn’t pass PSA/DNA). I thought that it was one heck of a starting point for building an auction and I went for it. I then took the next 7 or 8 months to gather consignments from around the country.
3- In an interview with Auction Report in 2011 you said one of the biggest differences to your auctions was that you were always available to customers. Has this changed or evolved at all?
In whatever I do in business, I believe that is something we will never go away from. Not to sound cliche, but we truly try to treat people the way we would want to be treated at all times. Life is short, and we want to have a blast in all aspects of our business and our lives. We will always do our best to be available in every situation.
4- What was the turning point to go from auctions- to product manufacturing?
Towards the completion of our catalog auction, I decided that the process wasn’t for me. From an operational standpoint, there were many factors that I couldn’t foresee until I got into the whole process. I then took a couple years to buy and sell and get my people poised for our next move. Growing up I loved opening packs, I still remember when UD came out with the Nolan Ryan, Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan/Johnny Bench, and Joe Montana autographed cards in the early 90’s. Then in 1995-1996 when serial numbered cards hit the scene. I opened a lot of packs over the years and always felt like my ROI was very low with basically every product I ever cracked. That was my motivation for starting The Game of Heroes. When you factor in our contest and drawing prizes, this is in our opinion the best dollar to hit ratio in the hobby.
5- Can you explain the process behind the creation of Heroes of Sport Inc?
We decided to bring Heroes of Sport back about 2 years ago. We took that year to build our inventory levels to fuel an entire product run. This is by no means an easy task and we had to purchase items from large collections, eBay, auction houses, and shows. We did our very best to focus on the best players from each era. We didn’t want to have commons in our product, and I think we did a good job of that. We also put a huge emphasis on quality. We wanted our autographs to be of the highest quality avoiding smeared or faded autos. We wanted the condition of our graded and ungraded cards to be very presentable. All autographs needed to be by an industry backed leader like PSA/DNA, JSA, or an individual player’s certificate. All of these quality standards make amassing an inventory of this magnitude a very big challenge. For instance, we might buy a collection of 100 single signed baseballs. After we would go through and weed out the best ones, we might end up keeping 12 of them for the product. The other 88 have to then be resold. The same goes for buying a collection of cards. This is truly why we are proud of what we have put together.
6- Are there any future plans for this product?
Our leader board just went live on www.Beckett.com today and our first Heroic Points rewards ceremony and Heroic Ticket drawing will be this coming Tuesday January 22nd. We will then be having 15 more consecutive weekly rewards ceremonies and a grand prize event on May 22nd. This to me is what makes our product truly unique and great. As a new concept, we believe that the people who jump in early will have a shot to do really well. The Heroic Ticket side of things will give people a great chance to win some amazing stuff every week.
7- Were there any notable differences from others in the industry about creating this product?
We wanted to create a highly interactive and exciting product and [be] contest themed. Our prizes each week and at the grand finale are going to make some people very happy.
8- Who is your favorite team, favorite thing in your collection, if any.
My favorite team is the Lakers. Well it is actually whatever team Kobe plays for. If he was traded to the Bucks, then I’d be a huge Milwaukee fan. I was a freshman in high school and basketball was my entire existence in 1996. I remember being really excited to see him play because he was a shooting guard and he had the guts to go pro. And right out the gate I was amazed at his skill set and competitiveness. This propelled me into getting heavy into cards. I don’t know if you remember when Topps Chrome first came out, but the boxes were really cheap and not many people payed much attention at first. I had a feeling that the refractors and rookies had a lot of potential based on how the Finest rookie refractors and bronze rookies were doing. So I decided to buy everything I saw. Then the next Beckett came up and the whole set had up arrows. And then a month later all the prices quadrupled! I had 3 Kobe Refractors and like 25 rookies as well as a bunch of Iverson, Rahim, Kittles, Ray Allen, and Antoine Walker. I then sold the majority of it, and it propelled me into this business.
My favorite item in my collection is a Babe Ruth signed baseball that my great grandfather Billy Thom got at a banquet dinner. He was a professional wrestler and a coach in the 1932 Olympics. The ball has several other signatures including some politicians and isn’t worth huge money, but it will stay in my family forever.
Thanks again to Will Jaimet for taking time out to participate in this Q&A- Please visit his website for Heroes of Sport and let us know what you think about this product in the comments section.