Walk into the Texas Poker Room in downtown Seguin, and one can’t help but notice the display on the south wall.
A couple of signed, framed jerseys and a display case filled with signed helmets of college and professional football teams, plus some prized baseballs that dominate the space.
They are just part of owner Wayne Low’s collection — a collection he started about three years ago that has since grown to around 50 individual sports treasures.
“If nothing else they are a good conversation starter,” Low said. “People come in to play cards and they are always asking me about them. It’s a poker room, what poker player isn’t a sports fan?”
Passion for sports
Low started the collection for a simple enough reason, he loves sports.
“I’ve always been a big sports fan and I love college football,” Low, 47, said. “I like the pros too, but not as much as college.”
Low graduated from Texas A&M, so naturally the Aggies are his favorite team.
“I’ve got a really neat Manziel helmet, signed with a lot of inscriptions,” Low said, “I’ve also got a football signed by him.”
He also has a jersey signed by Manziel, and those three items are some of the Aggie fan’s most prized possessions.
While he started collecting as an adult about three years ago, but the amassing the items way before that.
“I’ve always been into sports memorabilia, but I’ve gotten more into it the last few years,” Low said. “Just like a lot of kids I collected baseball and football cards when I was a kid and as a teenager.”
He’s also a big baseball fan, rooting for the Astros and Rangers, and has a number of signed baseballs in the collection.
“I’ve got a Nolan Ryan signed ball, but that one I leave at home,” he said of his favorite ball.
Buying and selling
Low has acquired most of the collection online, and spends some time buying, trading and selling pieces with people all over the country and across the globe.
“In the last two weeks I’ve sent three helmets internationally — two to Australia and one to Canada,” he said. “One of them was a Tom Brady, one was an O.J. Simpson, and the one I sent to Canada was a Todd Gurley Rams helmet.”
He was little surprised that people from Australia and Canada would be interested in football helmets.
“Some of that stuff is gaining popularity over there, at least in certain parts of those two countries,” Low said. “It kind of surprised me, but they are into it and they offered me a reasonable price.
“I’m at the point where I’ve got a few favorites and maybe there’s some others that I would like to get or do some trading for, but I’ve got too many now, so I don’t mind selling some.”
He turns a little profit on some of the sales, with the helmets generally in the $400 to $1,500 range, depending on the player and the rarity of the piece.
“Sometimes you can make a little extra money,” he said. “But I’ve also traded a lot — if I have one I’m not that particular a fan of, there may be somebody else out there that would trade, so you kind of swap around a little bit.”
Many of the helmets he won in online raffles, or by trading pieces that he won with others participating in the raffles.
“I’ve really acquired a lot more through trading,” Low said. “If I win a Carson Palmer helmet, I’m not really a fan of the Bengals, but there may be somebody out there is so I’ll trade them for something I want.”
Low has three helmets that he considers some of his favorites, but there is one that he really appreciates.
One of those, a Ray Lewis signed breast cancer awareness helmet, has a special meaning for Low.
“It’s very personal and means a lot to me because my mom died from breast cancer,” Low said. “That one is obviously up there.”
Low lived in Louisiana for 10 years and in that time became a Saints fan, so a Drew Brees American flag helmet is near the top also.
“I’m a Drew Brees fan because I was there when they won the Super Bowl,” he said. “The guy can play, who is not a Drew Brees fan?”
A Beau Jackson signed Raiders helmet is one of the newer helmets in the collection, even though Jackson played many years ago.
“It’s a Speedflex helmet, with a really cool paint job,” Low said. “I’ve actually got several signed by him. I’m a big Beau Jackson fan. Growing up as a teenager in the 80’s, how could you not like Bo Jackson? Everybody remembers ‘Bo knows.’”
Other favorites include a Joe Montana 49ers helmet, a Mike Evans Texas A&M piece and a Barry Sanders signed Oklahoma State helmet. He also has a Roger Staubach Cowboys helmet, an Oilers Earl Campbell, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, among many others.
Jerseys in the collection include an Earl Campbell signed jersey, a uniform signed by baseball’s Pete Rose, an Oakland Raiders Kenny Stabler jersey and a current Rams wide receiver Adam Thielen piece.
Some of the baseballs in the display case he’s had for much longer, and include signed baseballs from Reggie Jackson, Dale Murphy, Mike Piazza, Pete Rose and many others.
Low is downsizing the collection currently, but still has some pieces he would like to add to the collection.
“I want a Peyton Manning,” Low said. “I’m probably a little partial to quarterbacks — plus the quarterbacks and running backs are usually the ones that are the most valuable.”
A Walter Payton helmet is also on his list, but they are a little bit more expensive.
“Obviously, he can’t sign any more and he didn’t sign much to begin with,” Low said. “So on a retail basis, one of his is probably in the $2,500 to $3,000 range. But it’s a Walter Payton, so it’s a rarity.”