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Rapinoe among sports greats at Vegas museum
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2013-02-20

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Megan Rapinoe when she played for the Chicago Red Stars. Photo from Red Stars


LAS VEGAS—The first-of-its-kind multisport interactive museum and retail store opened here this past December, featuring one-of-a-kind, game-worn and used sports memorabilia.

SCORE!, located inside the Luxor Hotel & Casino, showcases the goodies of such sporting greats as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and hundreds of others.

With its tagline "Be The Legend," SCORE! teamed on this project with the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Boxing Hall of Fame and others for a must-see stop along the world-famous strip.

The SCORE! experience winds through eight sport-specific galleries, showcasing sports memorabilia, particularly game-worn jerseys, once owned by noted memorabilia collector Jock Smith, who died in 2012—and Smith is memorialized with a Hall of Fame-esque plaque inside SCORE!

About 80 percent of the sports memorabilia inside SCORE! comes from Jock Smith, and his daughter (Janay) is now the SCORE! president and curator. Jock Smith was a collector for more than 30 years, and sports memorabilia "was a hobby and passion for Jock," said Adam Suissa, chief operating officer at SCORE!

SCORE! showcases more than 300 treasured artifacts inside the 10,000-square-foot facility, including one openly gay athlete, side by side with such SCORE! stars as Magic Johnson, Reggie Jackson, Dale Earnhardt. Sr., and even Babe Ruth.

In the soccer area, Megan Rapinoe is seen, amid autographed soccer balls, game-worn cleats, past issues of Sports Illustrated and more.

No other LGBT athlete—from Esera Tuaolo and Billy Bean, to John Amaechi and Orlando Cruz—was seen inside SCORE! Nor was there any used memorabilia of the LGBT contingent.

SCORE! has worn/used memorabilia from some of the greatest to ever play their game—from Terry Bradshaw and Wayne Gretzky to Larry Bird and Stan Musial. SCORE! is the Super Bowl to some, the Stanley Cup to others, and just a trip down Pop Culture Lane for others.

"The museum is what you make of it. Sure, you can be in and out in 45 minutes, or you can read every plaque and be in there for two hours or more," Suissa said.

Suissa said the memorabilia will be changed, though he did not say how often.

"We picked the stuff that we felt was the most relevant, the stuff that we thought people would want to see now," Suissa said.

SCORE! officials have started an initiative to work with Clark County schools, encouraging kids to learn about sports, health and nutrition. SCORE! also is partners with the Las Vegas Legends in the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) and the Las Vegas 51s, the 2013 Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.

"Our plans are to use this (Las Vegas store) as the franchise model, and bring these (SCORE! stores/museums) to other major sports cities," Suissa said.

SCORE! has been attracting about 200 guests daily in the first two months since opening.

Rapinoe is one of the most sought-after LGBT athletes on the secondary market. There are about 150 different Rapinoe-related items for sale on eBay—from color action photos to replica jerseys. Perhaps the most unique Rapinoe collectible available on eBay is the 2006 University of Portland yearbook, which features the soccer star.

Esera Tuaolo played for five teams in the NFL, from 1991-1999, and came out in 2002 after retiring. He appears on at least 11 football cards, though none, even his rookie card from 1991, will set you back much more than $2.

Tuaolo's autographed autobiography, Alone In The Trenches: My Life As A Gay Man In The NFL, sells for about $30 on eBay.

Billy Bean played outfield for three major league teams from 1987-1995, and came out in 1999 after retiring. His most expense baseball card was released in 1989, when he appeared in a team-set for the Toledo Mud Hens. That card now sells for about $8. Bean's rookie (major league) card was released in 1988 by Topps and sells for $2.

John Amaechi has a wide variety of offerings on eBay, starting with an autographed copy of his autobiography, Man In The Middle ($75.99 buy-it-now). Other Amaechi offerings include a replica Manchester Magic jersey ($40), autographed 8x10 college photo ($15) and even the edition of The Advocate which he appeared on the cover ($10).

Amaechi, who played in the NBA from 1995-2003, came out in 2007. He appeared on numerous basketball cards during his career. Autographed Amaechi cards can be found online for about $25 each.

In 1975, David Kopay became one of the first pro athletes to come out, after playing in the NFL from 1964-72. Kopay collectibles are rare today, other than his autobiography and a few shirtless photos, none more than $15.

Glenn Burke's autographed 1978 SSPC All Star Gallery baseball card, certified authentic, sells for about $150. Other Burke-autographed cards sell for about $50. Burke's rookie card was issued by Topps in 1978, and now sells for about $2.

An autographed photo from out figure skater Rudy Galindo sells for about $25.

Greg Louganis is an eBay sensation, not just a swimming and diving medalist. There are close to 400 Louganis-related items for sale on eBay, including an original, signed, limited-edition photograph from the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles—with a $450 buy-it-now price tag. Other Louganis collectibles include 1991 and 1996 trading cards, an autographed copy of the 1995 Out Magazine that he appeared on the cover ($100), autographed 8x10 color photos ($65), and much more.

Read the full story online at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .


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