1. Penn Mutual, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group Announce Title Sponsorship of Collegiate Rugby Championship and Varsity Cup Rugby Championship

    The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, United World Sports and NBC Sports Group have announced a three-year title sponsorship for the Collegiate Rugby Championship, the largest Rugby 7’s (7 players a side) collegiate rugby championship in the United States. The Collegiate Rugby Championship, which takes place at PPL Park in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, will now be called ”The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.” In addition, Penn Mutual has committed to be the title sponsor for The Varsity Cup, the national collegiate championship of the 15-a-side rugby format. The Varsity Cup, which is played at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake City, will now be named “The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”
     
    Penn Mutual is committed to work with UWS and NBC Sports Group to establish the Collegiate Rugby Championship as an iconic world-class Philadelphia-based sports event, on par with national championships in other major sports in the United States.
     
    According to Jonathan First, President of United World Sports, “This sponsorship establishes rugby, which is now the fastest growing sport in America, as a powerful corporate marketing and branding tool - one with the same cache of soccer, appealing to an American market comprised, in part, of business leaders and decision makers. We congratulate Penn Mutual on their forward-looking decision, and we’re eager to help them connect their brand with our audience of devoted fans, dedicated players and quality institutions from around the country.”
     
    “Our sponsorship is part of a long-term business-building strategy to extend the Penn Mutual brand to consumers, financial professionals, and student athletes,” says Eileen McDonnell, Penn Mutual’s Chairman, President & CEO. “Like rugby, Penn Mutual enjoys a long and esteemed history—167 years of service to our policyholders. And, like rugby, we are more cutting edge than ever, having doubled our market share since the financial crisis of 2008. Rugby provides a clean slate for us to share our optimistic view of how life insurance not only protects, but also allows people to do more in life and leave a lasting legacy. The sponsorship also gives us the opportunity to attract new talent by gaining exposure to the student athletes of major national colleges and universities.  All of us at Penn Mutual are excited about the possibilities afforded by The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Penn Mutual Varsity Cup.”
     
    Rugby 7s returns to the Olympic Games in 2016, following an 84-year hiatus, where the United States will defend its gold medal from the 1924 Olympics in Paris. The Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship is part of a nationwide effort to build American rugby talent in preparation for the Olympics. In the past three years, the Collegiate Rugby Championship has produced 15 players who have gone on to play for the U.S. National teams. In the 2014 Collegiate Rugby Championship, 20 of the top colleges and universities competed for the title, including Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, Michigan, Navy, Ohio State and reigning national champion, The University of California Golden Bears. Beginning in 2015, a portion of Penn Mutual’s sponsorship investment will be awarded to the winning team, the proceeds of which will be used to build the team’s rugby program on-campus.
     
    For its participation, Penn Mutual will tell its story to millions of Americans through TV exposure on NBC, NBCSN, Universal Sports Network, Comcast SportsNet, in-event branding, online and digital marketing, and through localized and national promotions and events throughout the year.
     
    “We’re thrilled to have Penn Mutual join our partnership with United World Sports in support of the Collegiate Rugby Championship and The Varsity Cup,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports Group. “We believe Penn Mutual’s support will aid in the growth and popularity of these events, and the sport of rugby across the U.S.”
     
    According to McDonnell, “This sponsorship squarely provides Penn Mutual with a smart, effective way of reaching a vital new audience that can benefit from the power of life insurance as well as the career opportunities it offers.”

  2. Luckiest Man Exhibit A Tribute To Lou Gehrig And Pete Frates

    To commemorate one of the greatest speeches in American history, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center has opened a new exhibit, “The Luckiest Man,” a tribute to Lou Gehrig’s iconic farewell 75 years ago.

    The simplicity and humility of Gehrig’s speech still resonate today, especially with the heightened  awareness of the terrible disease that claimed his life, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

    The exhibit contains artifacts and rare photos of Gehrig’s life and career, which is forever remembered by his stepping reluctantly in front of the microphone before 61,000 at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 and calling himself “the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”   

    The Yankee captain, the son of German immigrants and one of the gentlest men ever to wear a major-league uniform, had played in a record 2,130 consecutive games, belted 493 home runs while compiling a batting average of .340.

    At the time, he was 36 years old and dying, yet insisted that his disease would not rob him of all the good fortune, good friends and great love he had enjoyed throughout his short life.

    The exhibit also tells the story of another stricken baseball captain – former Boston College star Pete Frates – whose courage in the face of tragedy helped inspire the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, the national phenomenon that has generated greater awareness and raised well over $100 million for ALS research.  Frates was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2012.

    Like Gehrig, Frates, now 29, considers himself blessed to have played the game he loved and to be supported  by family and friends. Thanks to the power of social media, Frates now has thousands of voices speaking on his behalf, reflecting Gehrig’s humanity and legacy of raising awareness of a devastating disease.

    The exhibit runs through Dec. 1. The Museum is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays from 12 noon to 5 p.m.

  3. New Soccer Book A Must Have For The American Fan

    We Americans “got” The World Cup this summer. No bar or chat room in Iowa or Brooklyn didn’t have a match on, no casual fan didn’t find out more about Tim Howard or wonder where Landon Donovan was.

    But now as American football comes back, and kids across the country start playing soccer again this fall, will we know Leeds United from Manchester United when they pop up on NBC Sports or in talks with our global neighbors? Why are Arsenal the Gunners? And who are those people singing in the background and never stopping?

    All those questions, as well as ones about MLS teams like the Red Bills, the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy, can be answered in Luke Dempsey’s new book Club Soccer 101: The Essential Guide to the Stars, Stats, and Stories of 101 of the Greatest Teams in the World. Out this past week, the book explains to the casual fan how clubs around the world built their names, traditions and fan bases, and serves as a great and easy to read primer for fans of every age.

    The book has essays on Dempsey’s top 101 clubs and provides a fun, nicely organized must-have soccer manual. From stats and stars to geography and history there is something for everyone here. The best part is that the book is primed for a sequel, as it is not a popularity contest, it is much more pop culture from a Brit who is a longtime fan of “The Beautiful Game” and took the time to break it down for Americans. It’s a perfect bridge to re-engage casual fans with a bit of a World Cup hangover who are ready for more and understand the nuances of the game, but not the club business.

    A great advance holiday get for soccer fans of all ages.

  4. Tennis Star James Blake & Namesake Foundation To Host Poker Tournament For Cancer Research

    The James Blake Foundation (JBF) is pleased to announce that tonight, the organization will again host its annual Playing for a Cure poker event at the Soho House in New York City. An exclusive Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament, Playing for a Cure will feature appearances by American tennis star and JBF co-founder James Blake, as well as other leading members of the sports, entertainment, and business communities. The event will benefit the James Blake Foundation, which supports early detection cancer research.

    James’ father, Thomas Blake Sr., lost his battle with gastric cancer in 2004. Since 2008, the Foundation has supported the efforts of the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research fund, which was launched in memory of James’ father and is dedicated to the early detection of cancers commonly discovered in later stages. in 2013, the Foundation surpassed the $1 million dollar mark in total funds raised for the fight against cancer.

    Last year’s event featured appearances by Serena Williams, Paul Pierce, Sam Querrey, Irv Gotti, Ethan Zohn, Alycia Quarles and Diem Brown.

  5. Rare Jordan Brand Jeter Cleats Added To Steiner Sports “Derek Jeter Farewell Auction” Now Through October 19

    Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation has partnered with Steiner Sports to include two pairs of special edition Jordan Brand autographed cleats in their “Derek Jeter Farewell Auction” running now through October 19.
     
    The cleats, made exclusively for the Yankees Captain in honor of his final season, feature special commemorative graphics paying RE2PECT to Jeter’s career.
     
    There are two variations of the Jeter Lux 2.0 cleats: one pair was made as a special 1 of 1 for Turn 2, featuring Jeter’s Kalamazoo High School colors of maroon and gold. The second version, the Pitch Blue & Silver pair, was made for Jeter to wear throughout his final season. The two pairs of cleats are autographed but not game-used.
     
    This marks the first time these exclusive cleats will be available to the public, with proceeds benefiting the Turn 2 Foundation. Visit the auction HERE.

  6. Marvel Comics & Wizard World Reveal ‘Captain America #25’ Exclusive Variant Cover By Julian Totino Tedesco For Austin Comic Con

    Marvel Comics and Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) today revealed the latest edition of the 2014 series of exclusive variant covers of the best Marvel titles with the unveiling of Captain America #25, drawn by Argentine artist Julian Totino Tedesco.VIP attendees at the Wizard World Austin Comic Con, October 2-4 at the Austin Convention Center, will receive a free copy of the limited-edition book at registration.

    Totino Tedesco is scheduled to be on site at the event to sign copies of Captain America #25 (autograph fees may apply). Leading professional comic grader CGC will also be on hand to accept books for grading and Signature Series.

    The exclusive version of Captain America #25 will be limited to 3,000 copies and provided free at registration to all Wizard World Austin Comic Con VIP attendees, including any celebrity VIP packages.

    Totino Tedesco’s work follows the first 12 entries in the Wizard World variant cover series: Miracleman #1 and Miracleman #2, both drawn by Eisner Award Hall of Famer Neal Adams for Portland Comic Con (Jan. 24-26) and New Orleans Comic Con (Feb. 7-9), respectively; Wolverine #1, illustrated by noted cover artist Greg Horn, for Sacramento Comic Con (March 7-9); Daredevil #1 by Michael Golden for Louisville Comic Con (March 28-30); Wolverine & The X-Men #1 by David Mack for St. Louis Comic Con (April 4-6); Hulk #1 by Mike Grell for Minneapolis Comic Con (May 2-4); John Tyler Christopher's Amazing Spider-Man #1 for Atlanta Comic Con (May 30 – June 1); Amazing Spider-Man #1.2 by J.G. Jones for Philadelphia Comic Con (June 19-22); 100th Anniversary X-Men Special #1 by Jorge Molina for San Antonio Comic Con (Aug. 1-3) and Guardians of the Galaxy #17 by Alvaro Martinez for Chicago Comic Con (Aug. 21-24). Christopher has completed a variant of Death of Wolverine #1 for the upcoming Richmond Comic Con (Sept. 12-14); Tom Raney has done so for God of Thunder #25 for Nashville Comic Con (Sept. 26-28).

    Julian Totino Tedesco is one of the best cover artists in the industry,” says Marvel SVP David Gabriel. “Seeing each of his covers for Original Sin come in each month was a joy and we couldn’t be happier with his Wizard World exclusive variant cover to the final issue of Captain America.

    The Eisner-Award nominated Totino Tedesco is a native of Buenos Aires who began working on American comics about five years ago. He has drawn covers for many titles, including Marvel books Season One, Uncanny X-Force, Thunderbolts, John Carter: Gods of Mars, Original Sin and others.

    “We see as many fans cosplaying Captain America at our shows as just about any character,” says John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “That shows the enduring popularity of ‘Cap,’ and Julian Totino Tedesco has certainly brought that to life with this exciting cover.”

    Who is the All-New Captain America? The conclusion to the story that began in Dimension Z as Zola strikes in unison with The Red Skull! The final fate of Jet Black! Rated T. Writer: Rick Remender; Artists: Carlos Pacheco, Stuart Immonen.

    Morena Baccarin (“Homeland,” “Stargate SG-1”), Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past, American Horror Story), WWE Phenom The Undertaker® and Katie Cassidy (“Arrow,” “Gossip Girl”) are among the celebrities scheduled to attend Wizard World Austin Comic Con.It is the 13th of 16 events in the 2014 series produced by Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) and will also feature a top-drawer collection of well-known comics artists and writers and a variety of activities, exhibitors and special attractions.

    In addition to Totino Tedesco, superstar comics creators scheduled to attend include Neal Adams (“Batman,” “Green Lantern”), Kaare Andrews (“Astonishing X-Men,” “Iron Man”), Bob Layton (“Avengers,” “Captain America”), CAFU (“Earth-2,” “Trigon – Villains Month”), Ethan Van Sciver (“Green Lantern,” “Flash”), Ramon F. Bachs (“Infinity: Heist,” “Red Robin”), Rob Prior (“Heavy Metal,” “Spawn the Impaler”), Kevin Maguire (“Justice League,” “Batman Confidential”), Greg Horn (“Walt Disney,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”), Michael Golden (“Spider-Man,” “Hulk”), Arthur Suydam (“Marvel Zombies,” “Army of Darkness”) and many others.

    For more on the 2014 Wizard Austin Comic Con, go to www.wizd.me/AustinPR.

  7. 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Batman,' Eliza Dushku, James Marsters Q&A's, Creator Sessions Headline Programming At Wizard World Richmond Comic Con

    Question-and-answer sessions featuring Guardians of the Galaxy stars Dave Bautista and Michael Rooker, “Batman” headliners Adam West and Burt Ward, “The Walking Dead” stars Jon Bernthal and Sarah Wayne Callies “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” standouts Eliza Duskhu and James Marsters, Manu Bennett (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Giancarlo Esposito (“Breaking Bad”) and many others top the robust programming schedule at the inaugural Wizard World Richmond Comic Con, next Friday through Sunday, September 12-14 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Most programming is included as part of the standard event admission.

    Some of the highlights of the more than 60 scheduled panels are:

    • Interactive Q&A sessions with Bautista and Rooker (Saturday, 5 p.m.); West and Ward (Saturday, 2 p.m.); Bernthal and Callies (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.); Dushku (Sunday, 2 p.m.); Marsters (Saturday, 1 p.m.); Bennett (Sunday, 1 p.m.); Esposito (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.); WWE® Hall Of Famer Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat™ (Saturday„ 1:30 p.m); the Boondock Saints duo of Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco (Sunday, noon) and others

    • Informative discussions with noted creators Joe Caramagna, Rob Prior, Jason Axtell, Gary Cohn and Danny Fingeroth (Friday, 5 p.m); Shawn Martinbrough, John Tyler Christopher, Kevin Maguire, and Bill Maus (Saturday, 5 p.m.); Gargoyles creator Kurt Lehner (Saturday, 1 p.m.); Michael Golden (Sunday, noon); animator Tom Cook (Saturday, 11:30 a.m.) and others

    • Spotlight on Kevin Eastman, creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on the 30th anniversary of its debut (Saturday, noon)

    • Screening of The Crow (Saturday, 6 p.m., preceded by 5:30 p.m. “Creating the Crow with James O’Barr”)

    • Marvel portfolio reviews (Saturday and Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m., dropoffs 4-6 p.m. Friday, 3-5 p.m. Saturday)

    • Costume contests for adults (Saturday, 7 p.m.) and kids (Sunday, 3 p.m.), plus cosplay-themed sessions with Wizard World personality Damian Beurer and others

    • Wizard World Comic Con Film Festival, featuring selected shorts and music videos (Friday, 5-8 p.m., Saturday, 1-4 p.m., Sunday, noon-3 p.m.)

    • Meet-and-greets with Jason David Frank (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.)(Paid events)

    Unless noted, programming events take place in the designated General Programming Rooms at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. VIP tickets or additional costs may apply to ensure access to select activities, as noted. (*Note: Frank Meet & Greets require a separate ticket.)

    A full list of Wizard World Richmond Comic Con programming is available at http://wizd.me/PRProgrammingRichmond (subjects, guests, times and rooms subject to change).

    Wizard World Richmond is the 11th of 16 events currently scheduled in the 2014 series produced by Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) and will also feature a top-drawer collection of well-known comics artists and writers and a variety of activities, exhibitors and special attractions. For more on the event, visit http://www.wizd.me/RichmondPR.

  8. Admissions Now On Sale For First Seven Wizard World Comic Cons In 2015

    Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) today announced that VIP, three-day and single day admissions are now available for its first seven Comic Con events on the 2015 schedule, through the year’s first quarter. Fans can visit http://wizd.me/PRAdmissions to purchase admissions for events beginning with Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con, January 9-11. Admissions for shows in Portland, Ore. (Jan. 23-25); Madison, Wis. (Feb. 6-8), Indianapolis (Feb. 13-15); Cleveland (Feb. 20-22); Chicago (Bruce Campbell's Horror Fest, March 6-8); and Raleigh, N.C. (March 13-15) are also available.

    Some of the celebrities scheduled for Wizard World events during that period include Stephen Amell (“Arrow”), Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Tyler Posey (“Teen Wolf”), William Shatner (“Star Trek”), WWE® Divas The Bella Twins™ and Michael Rooker (“The Walking Dead,” Guardians of the Galaxy). The on-sale date for the remaining 17 events on the 2015 schedule will be released in the coming weeks.

    “The first quarter of the 2015 Wizard World calendar has a mix of established events in New Orleans and Portland along with several new shows about which we are very excited,” said John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “Interest from fans in all of these cities has been very strong, so we anticipate sellouts of some admission groups, as we have experienced in numerous events in 2014.”

    The full 2015 schedule with dates and locations can be seen at http://wizd.me/PRSchedule2015.

    About Wizard World:

    Wizard World (OTCBB: WIZD) produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, television, cosplay, comics, graphic novels, toys, video gaming, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. A first-class lineup of topical programming takes place at each event, with celebrity Q&A’s, the Wizard World Film Festival, comics-themed sessions, costume contests, movie screenings, evening parties and more.

    Full event information can be found at http://www.wizd.me/PR.

  9. Marvel Comics & Wizard World Reveal ‘God of Thunder #25’ Exclusive Variant Cover By Tom Raney For Nashville Comic Con

    Marvel Comics and Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) today revealed the latest edition of its 2014 series of exclusive variant covers of the best Marvel titles with the unveiling of God of Thunder #25, drawn by noted artist Tom Raney.VIP attendees at the Wizard World Nashville Comic Con, September 26-28 at the Music City Center, will receive a free copy of the limited-edition book at registration.

    Raney is scheduled to be on site at the event to sign copies of God of Thunder #25 (autograph fees may apply). Leading professional comic grader CGC will also be on hand to accept books for grading and Signature Series.

    The exclusive version of God of Thunder #25 will be limited to 3,000 copies and provided free at registration to all Wizard World Nashville Comic Con VIP attendees, including any celebrity VIP packages.

    Raney’s work follows the first 11 entries in the Wizard World variant cover series: Miracleman #1 and Miracleman #2, both drawn by Eisner Award Hall of Famer Neal Adams for Portland Comic Con (Jan. 24-26) and New Orleans Comic Con (Feb. 7-9), respectively; Wolverine #1, illustrated by noted cover artist Greg Horn, for Sacramento Comic Con (March 7-9); Daredevil #1 by Michael Golden for Louisville Comic Con (March 28-30); Wolverine & The X-Men #1 by David Mack for St. Louis Comic Con (April 4-6); Hulk #1 by Mike Grell for Minneapolis Comic Con (May 2-4); Christopher’s Amazing Spider-Man #1 for Atlanta Comic Con (May 30 – June 1), Amazing Spider-Man #1.2 by J.G. Jones for Philadelphia Comic Con (June 19-22); 100th Anniversary X-Men Special #1 by Jorge Molina for San Antonio Comic Con (Aug. 1-3) and Guardians of the Galaxy #17 by Alvaro Martinez for Chicago Comic Con (Aug. 21-24). Christopher has completed a variant of Death of Wolverine #1 for the upcoming Richmond Comic Con (Sept. 12-14).

    Featuring the Thor of each era, the oversized Thor: God of Thunder #25 is set to deliver an epic stories spanning space and time,” says Marvel SVP Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “Tom Raney truly captured the essence of the ‘God of Thunder’ for this exclusive variant cover and we’re thrilled he could bring his iconic style to Wizard World Nashville”

    Raney has drawn for some of the most iconic titles in comics, including Avengers Academy, Blockbusters of the Marvel Universe, X-Men Legacy, Thor, Superman and more. Recently he has been focusing on creator owned work.

    “’Thor’ has had a big presence at Wizard World shows, from hundreds of cosplayers all the way to Chris Hemsworth,” says John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “Tom Raney’s interpretation of the popular hero is a welcome addition to the series.”

    Redefining the word “epic,” it’s the god-sized 25th issue of Thor: God Of Thunder featuring an amazing artistic line-up: Young Thor vs. Frost Giants. It’s the untold origin of Malekith the Accursed. King Thor’s granddaughters uncover a startling secret chapter from the history of the Thunder God, and Thor deals with the shocking fall-out from Original Sin.

    William Shatner (Star Trek, “T.J. Hooker”), Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead,” “The Vampire Diaries”), WWE® Superstar Kane®, WWE® Divas The Bella Twins™, Evan Peters (X-Men: Days of Future Past, American Horror Story), Eliza Dushku (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel”), Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs and Brian Krause (“Charmed”)and Alan Tudyk (“Firefly,” 42) are among the celebrities scheduled to attend Wizard World Nashville Comic Con, September 26-28 at the Music City Center.It is the 12th of 16 events in the 2014 series produced by Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) and will also feature a top-drawer collection of well-known comics artists and writers and a variety of activities, exhibitors and special attractions.

    In addition to Raney, superstar comics creators scheduled to attend include Ron Garney (“Thor,” “Uncanny X-Force”), Ethan Van Sciver (“Green Lantern,” “Flash”), Phil Ortiz (“The Simpsons,” “Muppet Babies”), Arthur Suydam (“Marvel Zombies,” “Army of Darkness”),Golden(“Spider-Man,” “Hulk”), Horn(“Walt Disney,” “Guardians of the Galaxy”), and many others.

    For more on the 2014 Wizard Nashville Comic Con, go to http://www.wizd.me/NashvillePR.

  10. Gehrig Day Yankees Jerseys Auction To Benefit ALS Research

    The fight against ALS has gained national attention through the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” and ‎Steiner Sports is proud to support the fight by‎ auctioning off game-used pinstripe jerseys of over 30 Yankee players and coaches worn on ‎Lou Gehrig Day (July 2) at Yankee Stadium. These exclusive jerseys, including those worn by 2014 All-Stars Derek Jeter, Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances, will be included as part of Steiner Sports “Derek Jeter Farewell Auction” beginning on September 3 and running through October 7.
     
    All proceeds from the Lou Gehrig Day jerseys will benefit the ALS Association in the fight against Lou Gehrig’s Disease. To participate in the auction visit auction.steinersports.com‎.