Attending the 2015 National Card Show

1 08 2015

Yesterday I went to the National Sports Collector’s Convention.  The show basically has gone into a rotation where it’s in Rosemont (a suburb of Chicago) every other year.  So that means I can go there as long as I’m not out of town.  Now that I live in the suburbs, it’s an even closer drive – basically about 20 minutes.  I took the day off work, then went into the show when the doors opened at 10 AM.

If you’ve never been to the National, the first thing you realize is that it’s huge.  I mean it’s enormous.  I was there from start to finish on Friday, and I probably stopped by two-thirds of the booths.

NSCC 2015

Yes, it’s the biggest card show out there, and I naturally have bought things all 3 years I’ve attended (2012, 2013 and this year).  But I go there as much because what you can see as what you can buy.  You’ll see collectibles and cards that you’ve never seen before.  You’ll see cards you’ve seen before but not together and not in the quantity.  If you need any old Topps card, I guarantee you can find it.  Same thing with anything from the 1930’s, 1940’s, or even tobacco cards from the 1910’s and earlier.  Oddballs from the 60’s?  They’re there.

Honestly, if you were a collector you could scrap buying anything the rest of the year.  You could save up, spend 3-4 days at the National every year, and spend your full budget on the things you want.

The show has Autograph guests.  It’s as good a lineup as you can ask for.  Dennis Eckersley, Dave Winfield, Lawrence Taylor, Dennis Rodman, Marv Levy, Barry Larkin, Brian Urlacher and the two guys I’ll discuss below.   And that’s just Friday!  Saturday and Sunday include Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mike Piazza.

It has sponsored auctions, and the best part is that you can peruse over the items.

Golding auctions Mike Tyson WBA Heavyweight belt

Mike Tyson’s WBA title belt

Golding auctions - Babe Ruth ball

Babe Ruth autographed baseball – among many others

Lou Gehrig game used bat

Lou Gehrig game used bat

Now, I mentioned I didn’t get to every table.  I think you could make your way around every table in one full day.  But I spent a lot of my time at two different spots that cost me the ability to do that.

First, I got two autographs yesterday.  One was this guy.

Manny signing ball

Manny signing my ball

Manny was definitely being Manny.  It’s fine, but it wasn’t one of the better experiences getting an autograph from a player.  I loved Manny’s abilities as a hitter, but he’s not my favorite player.  I have a 500 home run collection of autographed baseballs, and I try to add a player to it every year or so.  Manny is not known for being at a lot of these things, and his being there was the main reason I wanted to go on Friday.  But he was in a big hurry, and really didn’t take the time to sign a nicer auto.  To put it in perspective, the other autograph I got was of Frank Robinson.  He started at 11 AM, Manny started at about 12:15.  I had to be one of the last guys to purchase either player. and I bought the 164th ticket for Manny and the 100th ticket for Robinson.  There were probably a few people who bought tickets after me, but it couldn’t have been many.

Manny was done by a little after 1 PM, Whereas Frank probably finished about 1:45.  Some of this is that Frank has a long name, and he’s an older guy (though for a guy who turns 80 at the end of this month, he looks great!).  But less than an hour versus 2:45?  And for 50% fewer autographs?  I actually had to switch lines from Robinson to Ramirez because they made last call.  It was clear that Manny wanted to get out of there.  Some people were complaining about his signature being too rushed, though I think mine turned out fine.  It’s not easy to scan a baseball, so I’ll probably just put this on the blog another day.

I’m not bashing Manny.  I actually have had to sign about 100 items all at once – in today’s world, it’s necessary to get a mortgage – and it’s not fun.  But I just appreciate it a little more when the player spends the extra time acknowledging a fan who paid for his autograph.  Robinson did that in this case.  He’s already signed a ball for me.

1961 Topps Frank Robinson

I’m also starting up a collection of Reds MVPs.  I bought a decent copy of Robinson’s 1961 Topps card, and had him sign it with a 1961 MVP inscription.  I think it looks pretty cool.  I like how he used the bottom part of the card as an underline for the signature.  Something you could only do with the 1961 Topps design.  To show the kind of thoughtfulness Robinson has, here’s a bit more to the story.  As you can tell, he has a long name and a long signature.  He’s a month shy of 80, and he had probably signed 90 autographs at this point.  I originally asked for “1961 NL MVP” as the inscription.  But once he signed his name, I realized this may be a problem.  He hesitated, like he was thinking what to do.  I jumped in at that point and said just 1961 MVP was good, because I liked how he was using the bottom part of the card.  The point is – he gave two shits about signing the card nicely.  He doesn’t have to be that way, but I can guarantee you that’s just how Frank Robinson is as a person.  Before I left, I told him he was my dad’s favorite player – him and Ted Kluszewski.  “Oh yea, Big Klu”, he said – “that was a good team.”

I kind of doubt I’m going back to the show.  Definitely not today, as it’s my son’s birthday.  Probably don’t have time tomorrow, but we’ll see.  I’ll cover the card purchases I made in another post.

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