Baltimore Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker came through to score the game-winning field goal – and also tied the game to go into overtime – on Sunday against Pittsburgh. But prior that, the most accurate kicker in the NFL spent an evening in Middle River.
More than 250 fans showed up on Wednesday, October 2 to meet Tucker at an autograph signing run by Lupton’s Sports Collectibles at By The Docks Seafood Restaurant on Eastern Blvd.
“This was our first autograph signing ever,” said John Kanellopoulos, owner of By The Docks. “We had an amazing crowd. Justin is an excellent player, and people love him. He’s all about the fans and the team.”
Kanellopoulos said he had been approached by customers about hosting players at the restaurant over the years, but had not seriously entertained it until he met with Chris Lupton, owner of Lupton’s Sports Collectibles.
“It was just the right time and the right player to try this. I’m excited to be able to do this for my customers and the community,” he said. “Working with Chris has been great, and we will definitely be hosting more events together.”
“This is the first time we have brought players to the Middle River area,” said Lupton. “We are excited to partner with John and his team at By the Docks to bring these incredible experiences to local fans.”
“Since I was 15 years old, I have been collecting sports memorabilia and autographs from all of my favorite players,” added Lupton, who lives in Westminster. “I was always chasing guys around the stadium. I used to house sit for Lional Dalton when I was a kid.”
Dalton, who earned a ring with the Ravens for Super Bowl XXXV, even recently tweeted about how far Lupton and his business have come since he was a kid.
As Westminster’s top retailer of authentic athletic memorabilia, Lupton’s Sports Collectibles offers a wide range of authenticated and certified products. At the autograph signings, Lupton also has photos, helmets, mini-helmets and all kinds of signed items for sale. Throughout the years, he has worked with Ed Reed, Jacoby Jones, Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, and Matt Judon to name a few, and he has held multiple events with Tucker.
As part of his business model, Lupton will also bring the products to charity fundraising events for free, setting up as a silent auction. He started helping charities about ten years ago when he became involved with the Ed Reed Foundation and the Ladarius Webb Foundation.
Lupton, who does 30-40 silent auction events for charities each year, provides the auction items on consignment. If no one bids on the item there is no cost to the charity. In addition to the various Ravens players’ foundations, Lupton has worked with the Ed Block Courage Awards Foundation, RAACE and the Special Olympics.
The next autograph signing at By The Docks was just announced, and they will be hosting Ravens offensive lineman and Future Hall of Famer Marshal Yanda on November 4 at 7 pm. $30 autograph tickets and $100 VIP tickets are available.
This event has a charity component, and 10 percent of food sales will be donated to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation, Inc., which is dedicated to supporting the well-being of abused, neglected and at-risk children throughout our Courage House National Support Network for Kids. Through their partnership with the National Football League, the Foundation cultivates awareness at each Courage House and helps to raise funds for their programs and initiatives.
“Having events like this is great for the community,” said Kanellopoulos at the Tucker event. “There are a lot of people who came tonight who are not from around here, and they will be back.”
Already recognized for their Colossal Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, By The Docks may now be known as THE spot to meet your favorite NFL players.
For more information, visit Lupton’s Sports Collectibles on Facebook or call 443-695-4118.