Thirty-six years ago, when Phil Castinetti tired of his work as a mailman, he turned to something he was passionate about: collecting sports memorabilia. In February of 1986, Castinetti opened Sportsworld, a small, 400-square-foot shop on Broadway in Everett. Three years later, he moved his shop to Everett Square. Recently, Castinetti completed his fifth move, expanding into a 4,800-square-foot showroom on Route One North in Saugus. Upon arrival, you can see he is already maxing out this space with the impressive collection he has amassed, including everything from trading cards to lockers, stadium seats, framed memorabilia, and more.
“I was always a collector. I was a kid, maybe six years old. I started collecting baseball cards in 1963 and still have my collection from 1963–1968. At the time I was looking to make a career change, I noticed people were starting to buy and sell baseball cards. From the infancy of buying and selling baseball cards, to all sports cards, the grading of cards, to the internet, I’ve seen it all. Large internet reseller sites became one of the worst possible outlets to buy memorabilia, often finding forgeries in companies that grade cards. It was the wild west, always trying to police it better than it was. If you can fake a picture, you can authenticate a certificate.”
What’s hot now in collectibles? “Sports cards are on fire—soccer, race car driving, wrestling, UFC. During the pandemic, there was nothing to do, so people started cleaning out their houses and found things they were buying from me in the ’80s. It’s a constant mix of nostalgia and investment.”
Sports memorabilia is big business and not limited to iconic old timers like Honus Wagner, whose top selling card from a tobacco pack sold for $6.6 million. Contemporary sports stars bring in big money, too. A LeBron James rookie card sold for $5.2 million, Luka Doncic for $4.6 million, and Patrick Mahomes for $4.3 million. Castinetti has brokered his own share of high sales. “I sold Dave Cowens’s MVP trophy ten years ago for $175,000 and Tom Brady’s autographed rookie card for $100,000.”
Money aside, what has been Castinetti’s favorite part of his years in business? “Meeting all the athletes. There is nobody that was a sports legend during the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s on up that I haven’t met or done business with including Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and David Ortiz. I’ve met Ted Williams, Micky Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and The Rock. I formed great friendships with the Boston Bruins and could walk into the locker room at the old Boston Garden and hang out with the players.”
He met George Steinbrenner and watched games in his private box at Yankee Stadium with people like Billy Crystal, who became a good customer. Castinetti’s parents were diehard Red Sox fans. Being a rebellious kid, he decided to become a Yankees fan. Castinetti hasn’t missed a Yankees opening day game since 1997 and has great memories of time spent with “The Boss.”
Countless customers have met their sports heroes in the Sportsworld showroom. “We are slowly starting to get back to in-store appearances.”
Going forward, the plan is for Castinetti’s 21-year-old son, Cory, to take over Sportsworld. “He’s been dabbling in the business. Now, he’s out of school. We have the biggest store in New England. He’s going to jump right into a booming business.”
Cory Castinetti is equally passionate about the business. “I’ve been a collector ever since I was little. I’d rip open the packs to see what I got. I grew up idolizing my dad. I wanted my own collection so he would be proud of me. All I needed to do is follow sports, and I loved playing sports. It all translated to here.” Like his dad, Cory is also a Yankees fan. “Getting to meet Aaron Judge, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez was pretty surreal.”
Phil surprised his son with a new sign which included his name on it. “It was a crazy experience seeing that. I didn’t know it was going to be up there. I pulled in and saw it and that it was all coming to fruition. I want to help the younger generation of collectors. As an owner of a business, it’s one of the coolest things to see them share the same passion my father and I have for collecting and to see all the awesome things you can do with this hobby.”
Sportsworld is located at 184 Broadway in Saugus and offers memorabilia framing, charitable auction fundraising, and collection appraisals.