Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fourth Elvis Artist Sketch Card Revealed

Our latest Elvis trading card release Elvis By The Numbers will feature unique artist sketch cards of Elvis Presley. These "Mini Masterpieces" feature original hand-sketched artwork from renowned Elvis artist Joe Petruccio. Previews of the first three pieces can be seen on our website. This is the fourth (and my favorite)!

Elvis Is Back!

Forty years ago 33 year-old Elvis Presley put on what many feel was the greatest performance of his career. Although commonly referred to as the '68 Special or the '68 Comeback the spectacular production was simply titled Elvis.

Now, I wish I could write about what it felt like to share NBC's studio with the King of Rock 'n' Roll on that hot Thursday in Burbank California and hear him energize the crowd with classic hits like "Hound Dog" and "Heartbreak Hotel". I would even settle for being able to write about how it felt to see Elvis in his stunning black leather outfit sitting in a cozy circle next to Scotty Moore and DJ Fontana and belting out classic hits like "That's All Right" which made the 1-inch speaker on my 9-inch black-and-white television rattle on a cold Tuesday in December of 1968 when the show first aired. Sadly, I cannot. Unfortunately as an Elvis fan, I didn't come to existence until four years after his death (and hadn't even heard of the '68 Special until 2005). Now, the closest I have ever get to the Comeback Special is seeing it play in the visitor center across from Graceland's gates in Memphis as I wait for the bus to take me to Elvis' front steps for another tour of the house, which is where you can find me in two weeks.

Although I will never truly get to experience Elvis as so many of his fans did, I am lucky enough to get to help preserve his legacy. As Product Manager for our Elvis trading card brands I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know some of those who were close to him. I must admit, when I hang up the phone after talking with Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, or James Burton I often sit in silence for a minute and think about how surreal it is to talk to someone who was that close to perhaps one of the most famous entertainers in the world. And when I received the Elvis-worn Japanese kimono that we purchased for our latest trading card release, I swear you could feel Elvis' presence in the office.

It's a pretty powerful thing to hold in your hands a piece of clothing that he once wore, and one of the joys of what we do at Press Pass is getting to share that feeling with our collectors. Many of you probably can't afford to go out and purchase the red western shirt that Elvis wore in the movie Stay Away, Joe or a weekend Army pass that Elvis signed while he was in Germany serving our country. However, you don't have to because we get to bring a piece of him to you. When we tossed around the idea of cutting up shirts that Elvis once wore for a trading card my initial thought was "No way!" It just seemed so wrong. But as I got to know Elvis through my research and I found out more about the man he was, I realized that Elvis' fans meant the world to him, and he recognized that they were the ones who helped him along his rapid rise to fame. I also learned that Elvis was a giver. He always gave to his friends, his family, and his fans. So when I was faced with the dilemma of whether to let an Elvis shirt sit in a dark attic in some collector's house, only to be seen by a handful of people, or let thousands of Elvis' fans and admirers own their very own piece of Elvis, the choice was pretty simple.

You can own your very own piece of Elvis history with our latest trading card release Elvis By The Numbers which releases next month. If you're lucky enough to be at the Elvis Expo in Memphis during Elvis Week, stop by the Press Pass booth and you can be one of the first to open the newest release. Check our website for more information on Elvis By The Numbers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Was There!

So often you hear sports fans share their stories about some of the significant sporting events they have witnessed in person - a no hitter in baseball, a playoff clinching NFL game, a Tiger Woods US Open victory, etc... There are some things that just having the memories of "being there" mean a lot more than watching it on TV ever could.

In June, I had the opportunity to attend the third ever Subway Series between the Yankees and the Mets. The games themselves weren't particularly spectacular (unless you enjoy watching each team beat the other by 9 runs in the other's stadium). However, considering that both teams will be getting a new stadium in '09, it will go down as the last Subway Series played in either one of those ballparks. As a baseball fan, I was excited to witness that in person, and get the full experience of trying to rush out of one ballpark to get to the other in time for the first pitch.

It got me thinking about some of the other significant sporting events that I've been able to witness in person. Looking back, the two events that standout to me the most are a NASCAR race and a tennis match. I attended the Coca-Cola 600 back in 1994. The race itself wasn't spectacular, but the winner was. Jeff Gordon walked away with his very first NASCAR Cup Series victory in that race. Since then he has gone on to capture 80 more victories and four series titles. The other event that sticks in my mind as significant is a 2006 US Open third round tennis match. Like the Coca-Cola 600, the tennis match itself wasn't a top performance, but the result was meaningful. It was Andre Agassi's final match before his retirement. After he lost, he grabbed the microphone and gave a moving speech to the crowd. He walked off the court to an incredible standing ovation, where everyone in Arthur Ashe Stadium, regardless if they were an Agassi fan, understood how much he had contributed to the sport over the last 21 years.

So now that I've shared my "I was there" memories...what are some of yours?

Monday, July 14, 2008

“I got a Basketball Jones….”

Each year I look forward to the NBA draft in late June. There are many reasons...First of all, I enjoy watching college basketball; particularly the "Big Dance" in March/April. One reason is that my alma mater, the University of Memphis, usually has a competitive basketball program. This year the Tigers came as close as they ever have to winning the National Championship. If it weren’t for a lucky shot by Mario Chalmers, the Tigers would’ve have been #1 instead of Kansas. Of course, Jayhawk fans and alum (including our Press Pass Customer Service Manager, Terri) may disagree about the “lucky” part, but I digress…

Another reason I enjoy the draft is because, we (Press Pass) get to see where all of the rookie prospects (who we negotiate autograph deals with in April, May, & June) end up. We take pride in assembling a strong roster of the top rookie prospects each year. This year was especially gratifying for me since 3 Memphis Tigers were drafted (Derrick Rose, Chris Douglas-Roberts, & Joey Dorsey) and all 3 will be included in our set which ships in late July. Particularly satisfying was to see Derrick Rose be chosen first overall by the Bulls. While Memphis didn’t win the National title game, at least Memphis took the top spot in the draft! March Madness and the Final Four--that’s all old news now anyway! The “here and now” is NBA Summer League and rookie potential. I look forward to Derrick, CDR, and Joey making an impact at the next level---Go Tigers!

P.S. Oh yes, as difficult as it was for me to be objective, we also signed up a few of those Kansas Jayhawks to be included in our 2008 Press Pass Basketball releases…even that Chalmers guy.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nascar, take a right

As many of you diehard or casual Nascar fans may know, the three national series are filled with cookie cutter ovals of varying length. We even see multiple visits to the same tracks, many of which are nearly the same configuration like Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. While I love watching the races each weekend, even I wonder why so many keep watching when most of the tracks are so similar. Sure you have a couple road courses thrown in here and there(2 out of 36 events), but the vast majority are cookie cutter mile-and-a-halfs. To top it all off, Nascar runs all of these ovals in a counter clockwise direction.

My solution: let's run some of these tracks in a clockwise direction to mix things up. Just think about it, most of the drivers are engrained with turning left. I think at least for a few of the drivers that making right turns around these tracks would be somewhat of a challenge. In addition, the car itself is setup specifically to make better time through a left turn.
Having to go around the track in the opposite direction would not only be a challenge for the driver, but for the pit crew and team as well. Setting up the car would be totally different and making a pit stop could be quite interesting.

While I am sure Nascar will continue running the same direction for years to come, they could very easily run a Nationwide or Truck race clockwise as a test platform for the Sprint Cup. So come on Nascar, take a right!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why we love sports...

Has anyone been paying attention to the baseball pennant races lately? Specifically the American League Eastern Division. In case you haven't noticed, the name at the top of the standings does not feature the city name of either Boston or New York. It's not even Baltimore or Toronto. Who's left you ask? Why it's the Tampa Bay Rays. These aren't your old Devil Rays anymore.With an infusion of young stars like Evan Longoria (he's no Desperate Housewife), B.J. Upton, Scott Kazmir, James Shields and the superstar Carl Crawford these Rays are no longer laughable. Despite some key injuries (Closer Troy Percival and Slugger Carlos Pena) this team just keeps getting better.There's a lot of baseball left to be played but you know what they say about underdogs...the longer they hang around the more dangerous they become. The Red Sox are currently getting a taste of the new Rays having dropped two straight in a head-to head showdown.So just when you thought it was another cakewalk to the playoffs for the mighty Red Sox and Yankees along comes cinderella wearing a stingray on her baseball cap. The clock hasn't struck midnight just yet and we're going to find out if the Beantowners and Bronx Bombers can swim...