Fiterman Sports Group founder Ryan Fiterman is bringing two of the most talked-about athletes in the history of sports to town on Sunday, January 31, 2016, when Mike Tyson and Pete Rose help celebrate the opening of Fiterman’s store in Baybrook Mall’s new outdoor extension with public appearances. Guests will be able to meet, get autographs and pose for pictures with the two sports legends during the first of what will become many special events hosted at the new Fiterman Sports Group store. But it is hard to imagine many events bigger than this first one.
“I’ve established relationships with many athletes over the past seven years, but I’m blessed that two of the top relationships I’ve built have been with Pete and especially with Mike,” Fiterman explained. “First and foremost, its a privilege to be able to work with them. But to have them in the same place to help me launch my new store is something I never dreamed of and much bigger than what I originally anticipated doing right off the bat. But everything fell into place to have the biggest grand opening event possible and make a statement.”
“Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet not one great – but two greats – but these two guys (Tyson and Rose) have never before been offered for such a reasonable price before at a public autograph signing,” Fiterman explained. “So it fits our vision of bringing in legends to this community and making them accessible to the fans while also offering them at prices lower than ever before. We want to earn a fan following and get the community behind us as we try to do things never done in this area before.”
Check out the ad on the opposite page for details about the January 31 event. Hint: Take advantage of the online presale before January 23 and get a “line cut pass” which is included with all pre-orders. Special VIP packages with a $25 discount are also available online. Because a large crowd is expected, pre-purchasing tickets at fitermansports.com/tyson-rose-presale.html is suggested.
“Both guys are really awesome with the fans,” Fiterman said. “To come into the store and have the opportunity to take a picture with Mike Tyson biting your ear and then get a baseball signed by Pete Rose that includes an apology for betting on baseball is an unbelievable opportunity. Those are two of the craziest, most iconic things to happen in sports. So to come in and get those opportunities in the same day really sets the tone for what we are trying to do at the new store. ”
Part of the Fiterman Sports success story has been the ability to provide more than just an autograph, but focusing on the relationship between fans and athletes and the lasting memories that often result from their interactions.
“I make sports heroes accessible to their fans and the local community,” Fiterman said. “And that is part of the plan for this new store. Not only is it a retail store with exciting and rare memorabilia, but a place where we can host events and bring in all these big names. People may see them on TV and collect their stuff, but we want to offer the opportunity to meet these legends. Eventually, we plan to host these unique events many times a month.”
Despite being the only participant in Baybrook’s new expansion that is opening a first location and surrounded by well-known and luxury brands, Fiterman was able to close this deal like so many others and believes opening the store at this location was a “no brainer.”
“First, it is the mall I grew up in.” Fiterman said. “I grew up in this area and always shopped at Baybrook Mall. The surrounding community is growing, and I just feel there is no better location for our first store. The foot traffic is there, I like the direction Baybrook is going with the higher-end stores and restaurants, and it is the absolute perfect location for us. Plus, I consider the opportunity to expand and grow in this community an additional blessing.”
A basketball player while at Deer Park High School, Fiterman was manager of the men’s basketball team while in school at the University of Houston and then spent two years as a scout for the Houston Rockets. His original plan was to become a sports agent, but he had a change of heart which led to the launch of Fiterman Sports Group. Fiterman admits he has had many blessings along the way, including landing Rocket Tracy McGrady as his first client.
“McGrady hadn’t done an autograph signing in about 12 years,” Fiterman said. “I told him what I was doing, starting my own marketing and memorabilia firm. He was comfortable with me because we would see each other several times a day when I worked for the Rockets. So we came up with a number that worked for both of us, and it really put me on the map right away because he was a superstar who hadn’t done a signing for so long. It was a great boost to start things off, and it was very successful. I sold out before I even did the signing. From there, I just started calling on the contacts I had, including players for the Texans. I invested in another signing, and it had a snowball effect.”
Another athlete Fiterman credits with really helping him grow the business is former Oiler running back and NFL Hall-of-Famer Earl Campbell.
“Working with a football icon and Texas Legend such as Earl Campbell really put me on the map immediately in this industry and helped build my brand,” Fiterman explained. “He was really the first big guy I landed and the opportunity he gave me years ago and the awesome friendship that we have established since then is responsible for taking my company to another level. In Texas, there is nothing bigger than football; and in Texas Football, there is nothing bigger than Earl Campbell. He will be making his first appearance at the store very soon.”
Fiterman’s limited edition, triple-signed “Houston #34s” print back in 2011 featuring Earl Campbell (Houston Oilers #34), Nolan Ryan (Houston Astros #34) and Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets #34) was another project that put his company on the memorabilia map.
“Ryan Fiterman is the first and only person to represent these three guys together for a multi-signed piece,” explained Texas Sports Hall of Fame artist Robert Hurst. “I applaud him for corralling the three greatest players in Houston history and making them available like this.”
The growing stable of athletes and celebrities Fiterman has worked with include Hank Aaron, Arnold Palmer, Terry Bradshaw, John Elway, Gale Sayers, Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Pelé, Roger Staubach, Joe Greene, Lawrence Taylor, Brett Favre, Bo Jackson, Michael Strahan, Miles Austin, Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing, DeAndre Hopkins, Demarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Bart Starr, Sam Bradford, Eddie George, Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson, Pete Rose, Rollie Fingers, Mia Hamm, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Calvin Murphy, Hulk Hogan, Stan Lee, Buzz Aldrin, William Shatner and many other current and former Rockets, Texans, and Astros, among others.
Stay tuned to see who is appearing at the new Fiterman Sports Group storefront next.
By John Ennis