Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The National...A Look Back

The National Sports Cards Collectors' Convention will be held this week in Chicago. Running from Today through Sunday, it is usually the largest gathering of sellers, collectors, autograph guests and hobby names all year.

I'll be there as well, working at Irv Lerner's table (1012/1014). If you're around, stop in and say hello.

However, this blog often likes to look back...and this year, I'll show my program from the very first National held in Chicago. It was in 1983, and here is the cover:

Interestingly, the dealer who organized the show was Bruce Paynter. He'll be set up this week at the table behind the one where I'll be working.

It was also the 50th anniversary of the first major league All-Star game. Since Babe Ruth had famously hit a home run in that first game, he gets a spot of honor on the cover. Ernie Banks' connection to Chicago is obvious, and he was a featured autograph guest (signatures were free to attendees back then...those days are long gone). The HOF plaque card features Buck Leonard, who was another autograph guest. As for Johnny Mize, he wasn't shown as an autograph guest inside the program, but he was a willing signer at conventions at the time.

By the way...the 1983 All-Star game was held in Comiskey Park on July 6th, which may have helped determine the date of the National.

Here's the schedule of events. You can click the image to see it better:

I have always been a fan of The National, because it gives many collectors the chance to look at T206 Wagner cards and 19th century equipment, as well as the opportunity to bump into Dr. Jim Beckett in the crowd (I did that in Cleveland in '07) or even celebrities like Penny Marshall (I met her in Chicago in '05, she's a collector too and had her wantlist out). I also saw O.J. Simpson getting escorted out of the convention center by security in '05, but it's safe to say we won't see a repeat of that.

Here's a picture in the program showing a younger Dr. Beckett. It was before he had his own monthly magazine and was just another seller at the show:

However, check this part out:

If there was something from the past I'd love to see -- and even help arrange it if I had the means -- would be a series of seminars on hobby topics, given by some of the best and brightest in the arena. I'd even offer to speak at one if asked. In Chicago '83, there were presentations on 19th Century cards by Lew Lipset and Keith Mitchell (who helped write a great book about the subject) as well as a Lipset slide show on prewar cards. That final forum on Dealers and the Hobby media would be a phenomenal idea.

Another neat thing on that page is the way certain former athletes are called "celebrity guests." Here's a page about them:

( on the image to see it in a more readable size)

And then there's this:

What an awesome idea. Today's hobbyists are largely from the era where we've been apt to take care of our cards. There are a lot of us who've never been given the chance to do something like flipping cards as a game. Even when there's countless cases of junk wax that can be gleefully ripped open to provide enough ammunition to get really good at it.

I also love that there are also levels for kids and teens. There really aren't enough things specifically geared for kids in our hobby (you can say that the cards themselves are targeted toward kids...but I might disagree with that). Anyway, here are the rules of the game:

So there's a small glimpse at our hobby 28 years ago, when the value of a '52 Topps Mantle was hovering around $800, when many 1950s commons could be found in dime and quarter boxes, and the National convention could fit inside a hotel ballroom.

If you're going to be at the show, leave a message saying when you'll be there. If you're a seller, do the same...maybe one of my readers will check you out.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, I remember flipping, although we played it differently. We would take one card and lean it up against the base of a wall. Then we would take turns flipping cards at it, trying to knock it down. Whomever eventually knocked it down got to keep all the cards that had been flipped. We called it "playing Topps."