Today’s Matt’s Bats Chat is with sports memorabilia collector Andrew Lang. Andrew is a partner in a sports art gallery called The Art Of The Game that sells memorabilia from locations around a few sports venues. Fans love collecting memorabilia from their favorite teams, and Andrew has a great collection. He is also giving MattsBats.com readers a chance to buy some souvenirs at a discount.
Andrew organized the Big Train Celebrity Nats Camp that I attended and has organized other events around town with Nationals players, like the Gio Gonzalez foundation camp this summer. You’ll learn all about this and more. Also be sure to follow him on Twitter @Allstars_S2.
Matt’s Bats: Thanks for taking the time to do a Matt’s Bats Chat to let my readers know about the interesting business of sports memorabilia collecting. For background, how did you start your business?
Andrew Lang: I started as a collector of sports art and started collecting game used memorabilia. When oldest son 10 years old he was a techie and created a website for me to display my items on the internet. That was 17 years ago. That website eventually turned into an e-Commerce site and we
became a successful business. It’s evolved greatly over the last 17 years and will probably continue to evolve.
MB: Where are your stores located? Can people buy things online?
AL: The Art Of The Game stores are located in stadiums and arenas around the country. The closest store is inside the warehouse in RF at Oriole Park at
Camden Yards. We also have stores in Dodger Stadium, Anaheim Stadium, and the Staples Center where the Lakers, Clippers and LA Kings play. We want to be in Nationals Park, but opening locations are complicated and it hasn’t happened yet.
People can buy art directly off my personal website at www.AllstarsArt.com. Our memorabilia website we took offline as it needs major maintenance.
MB: What is the most expensive sports memorabilia thing you sell?
AL: We have some Muhammad Ali autographed paintings that are over $10,000 but the most expensive item is an original oil painting of Frank Howard of the Washington Senators from the artist LeRoy Neiman. It’s listed on our site AllstarsArt.com for $247,500.
MB: Which piece of memorabilia is your favorite?
AL: It’s so difficult to pick a favorite as I believe I have the most extensive collection of Washington Nationals items from the 1st season in
2005 to the opening of Nationals Park in 2008. I’ve accumulated so many unique items that I have actually given some back to players like Ryan
Zimmerman. I’m thinking my Brian Schneider game used catcher’s mitt and shin guards and jersey from the 1st game ever in 2005 is cool plus Brian
used all that to catch the 1st pitch from President Bush.
I have some pieces that players have given me like Michael Morse gave me his 1st HR bat and Brian Schneider gave me the chest protector he wore when
Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s HR record.
MB: If you could buy one thing now to collect for the future what would you buy?
AL: For the future, I am most interested in any significant item from any of the top players. Last season it was post-season items as it was the 1st
post-season in Nats history. This year I was looking for anything unique and picked up Rendon’s 4th hit of his career and will hope he becomes a
member of the 3,000 Hit Club. Certainly looking to add any significant Bryce Harper, Ryan Z., Jordan, Z., Stras, Gio items.
MB: As I mentioned at the top, you helped organize the first Nationals celebrity camp this year. How did you get involved starting the Nats player camps? What other kinds of events do you run?
AL: We seem to have this knack for combining our love of the Nats into events. What could be better than teaching kids and doing that with Nats
players? We used to do player training camps and the interest level wasn’t high 5 to 8 years ago as the Nats fanbase wasn’t large and now all that has
changed. We’ve done golf events with players and public autograph signings. I think our most popular event was bringing Ryan Zimmerman out for his 1st
public autograph signing in Fairfax Virginia as we had several hundred people line up for that but we really wanted to do more interactive events
and the camps is a perfect fit. The Gio Gonzalez Foundation Camp we put together this year was a huge success. Our Washington Celebrity Camps are
great on instruction and learning and fun.
MB: How did you get to know the players who you bring to the camps? Who are your favorites to work with?
AL: I have gotten to know many players personally and also many of the agents out there. I didn’t know Taylor Jordan and wanted him for our camp and got
him through his agent. We got Ian Desmond through Gio Gonzalez who asked him to come to the camp. Roger Bernadina we know personally and he came
to many of our camps. Ross Detwiler has volunteered for last years camp and couldn’t come this year because of his injury. Ian Desmond has emerged
as one of the greatest persons I have met. I got to see how he interacted with children away from the cameras. It was a thrill for me to throw
grounders for a whole morning to Ian and Anthony Rendon as they demonstrated middle infield fielding. I know Ian’s agent and have already contacted him about having Ian do a camp of his own.
MB: How many baseball games do you go to a year?