Among the highlights will be a spectacular Somerset Patriots Experience package which includes a Hospitality Suite For 30 People (food and beverages are not included); throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game; a chance to be on the field and in the dugout as Honorary Bat Boy or Bat Girl and a pre-game “Meet and Greet” with Patriots manager Sparky Lyle and Players.
The NJSSA annual statewide bid-calling contest at the home of the Atlantic League Somerset Patriots will feature works by nationally-renowned sports artist and Flemington resident James Fiorentino.
Fiorentino has donated several limited edition portraits of legendary sports heroes including Mickey Mantle, Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, and a collage of 1999 New York Mets including Mike Piazza, Rickey Henderson, John Franco, Al Leiter, Bobby Bonilla and John Olerud.
A limited edition portrait of Patriots ’ manager and former New York Yankees pitcher and manager Sparky Lyle will also be sold to the highest bidder. Honored as Atlantic League Manager of the Year three times during his tenure with the Patriots, Lyle had an 18-year career in the Major Leagues, winning the Cy Young Award with the New York Yankees in 1977.
The bid calling contest begins at the conclusion of the Patriots 5:05 p.m. game against the York Revolution.
“It’s a great time, a great outing for the family,” said Alfred Finocchiaro, winner of last year’s Bid Calling contest and chairman of the annual event. “Auctions are as American as baseball and hot dogs.”
Finocchiaro, based in Hightstown, will also donate baskets of Jersey fresh produce to be sold to the highest bidder.
Because of television shows like “American Pickers,” “Pawn Brokers” and “Storage Wars,” there’s been a noticeable uptick in attendance at auctions, according to Finocchiaro.
“Television is shining a whole new light on one of the oldest professions there is,” he said. “It’s just a fabulous time to be in the business.
“It’s great entertainment,” Finnochiaro continued, “plus at almost every auction, I don’t care if it’s backyard estate sale or at Sotheby’s, there’s always a bargain to be had if you’re a sharp buyer and if you pay attention.”
Standing atop the Patriots’ first base dugout, the auctioneers will also sell a variety of Major League sports memorabilia, including autographed baseballs, lithographs, vintage baseball cards, sports banners and other items.
The Somerset Patriots have donated several other items including a Sparky Lyle signed limited edition Operation Shoebox New Jersey baseball; a baseball signed by the entire 2011 Patriots team; a bat signed by the entire 2011 team and a baseball signed by the six Patriots elected to the Atlantic League All-Star team this year.
All items to be sold at the auction will be displayed on the concourse during the game so that potential bidders can have a close look at the merchandise. Absentee bids will be accepted during the game from those who must leave the ballpark prior to the auction.
Several auctioneers will compete for the coveted Auctioneer of the Year trophy, according to Central New Jersey auctioneer Joe Bodnar of Bodnar’s Auctions, winner of the 2009 competition and NJSSA president.
Everyone in the stands will be eligible to participate, with auction spotters scattered throughout the stands to ensure everyone’s bid.
All monies raised during the auction of the sports memorabilia will be donated to Operation Shoebox New Jersey, according to Bodnar.
“We’re honored, privileged and excited to be a part of this unique event,” said Rod Hirsch, founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey. “We’ve assembled some high quality sports memorabilia in hopes that fans will stay after the game for the opportunity to bid – and bid often – on collectibles and opportunities that don’t come along that often.”
Each auctioneer entered in the competition will sell one or two items, with each item being sold to the highest bidder. As in past years’ competitions, each auctioneer will be judged on their personality, the clarity of their call, and how well they “work” the crowd in an effort to get the highest price possible.
OPSHBX NJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that ships personal care packages to U.S. troops overseas.
Special Reserved $10 tickets for the Aug. 14 NJSSA Bid Calling Contest and Sports Memorabilia Auction are available by contacting Finocchiaro at (609) 448-7653 or Bodnar at (732) 951-2100. Tickets are also available from Operation Shoebox New Jersey at (908) 698-0333.