ORLAND PARK – The cards above were just a few of what I came away with during October’s Sports Cards and More show at the Orland Park Civic Center.
I bought about 60 cards for around $60, mostly from the vintage-era, but a few junk-era cards did attract me.
My Want List had been refined and updated in the last couple of months, and a few days before coming I finalized it and had it ready to go to help me find what I wanted to look for.
My first trip to this show, back in April, wound up being a good stop. So much of a good stop that I had planned to come back. That month, I also visited my friend Beau Thompson’s show in Madison, Wisconsin. After hours of scouring through quarter boxes, I drove from Madison to Orland Park to hit this show. I finally made it back this month.
The first table I stopped at this month had small stacks of vintage Cubs cards for $1. That included a 1977 Topps Bruce Sutter rookie card, but I already have one. Bought were my first cards of Jim Hickman (1969 Topps), Rick Monday as a Cub (1974 Topps), and Tommy Davis as a Cub (1971 Topps) within those stacks, and out of another stack came my first card of Hank Bauer (1958 Topps) as well as a Jim Bunning Tigers card (1959 Topps). The latter two cards were beat up, but since my collection is meant to be a history of the game through baseball cards, condition didn’t really matter to me in this instance.
Many tables have their boxes clearly labeled, and that’s what I look for when eyeing tables. The next table I stopped at had a quarter box of junk-era stars, so I tried to find some my my newer “wants.” The quarter box also had “Old Cubs,” and “Old White Sox” cards. I came away with four: a 1973 Topps White Sox team card (Dick Allen’s 1972 savior of a season), 1970 Topps Cubs team card (players from the 1969 collapse), 1985 Fleer Cubs team card (of the 1984 playoff team), and my first Bobby Bonds card as a Cub (1982 Topps). That Bobby Bonds find narrowed my “team arc” collection of his down to 1979 Topps Rangers and 1980 Topps Indians.
One of my issues at card shows is that I can’t stand up and look at boxes for a long time. I need to sit down. Finally, there was a table with a chair, and so I decided to go through a box of post-junk era cards at that table, labelled a “HOF and stars Blowout” box for $1 a card. I came away with a 1994 Action Packed card of Alex Rodriguez, and an interesting 1996 SPx card of Ken Griffey, Jr. “for promotional use only.” The SPx set was unique in that they were thick, die-cut cards with a large hologram of the player in the middle. Neither card was on my Want List, but I figured, what the heck? I don’t have a minor league A-Rod, and that Griffey was unusual enough to want.
When I entered the main room of the Civic Center, there was a table around the corner of the door with boxes and boxes of vintage cards from the 50s, 60s and 70s for $1 each. There also was a chair. Guess where I spent most of my day?
The first box I looked at had an entire row of 1975 Topps Minis; these are slightly smaller versions of the base set. When I hit this box, I knew I had to get out my phone and constantly check back and forth to verify who and what I was looking for. I found about 7 cards from that Mini set, including the unusual card of Oakland Athletics “pinch runner” Herb Washington. The next boxes went from 1972 to 1958, in order by year. I grabbed a handful, sifted through them and plucked out cards I was looking for, and cards I wasn’t looking for but thought would be interesting to have. The cards added up, and I had to find out how much money I had. When I realized I had more cards in the pile than money I had, I reluctantly had to put aside some of the newer ones that I figured I’d find another time; this included all of the Minis other than the Herb Washington, a card of 1959 Virgil Trucks which would have been my first Trucks, and a 1969 Topps Zolio Versalles that later I found out I should have kept.
The vintage haul, all Topps, included (including some others):
1972: Felipe Alou
1971: Ken Singleton
1970: Lou Piniella, Rick Monday, John Mayberry rookie, Luis Tiant, Tony Conigliaro*
1969: Ray Fosse rookie, Andy Messersmith rookie, Rico Carty, Jimmy Wynn, Amos Otis rookie, Gates Brown*, Gary Kolb; and “Expos” cards of Maury Wills*, Manny Mota and Jesus Alou
1968: Manny Sanguillen rookie, Mike Marshall rookie, Joe Torre, Luis Tiant, Lou Piniella, Tommy Davis, Ken Boyer*, Elston Howard, Larry Hisle rookie, Gary Kolb
1967: Sal Bando rookie, Reggie Smith rookie, Moose Skowron*, Willie Mays/Willie McCovey duo card
1966: Jerry Lynch* and Smoky Burgess* (pinch hit extraordinaries like the aforementioned Gates Brown)
1965: Jim Northrup* rookie, Don Larsen*, Rocky Colavito
1964: My 3rd Gary Kolb rookie card
1963: Joe Adcock*
1961: Zoilo Versalles rookie, Frank Thomas
1960: Moose Skowron
1959: Hank Sauer*, Gene Oliver* (Moline native)
*– denotes my first card of that player
With a few other cards in there, I wound up with 50, and got $5 off to pay just $45 for it all. That ended my day a little earlier than I thought, but I didn’t plan to attend with my entire life savings. With a car repair coming up, I needed to be conservative with my spending. Maybe when/if I come back, those cards I left behind may still be there.
The 1970 Conigliaro was a great find. It had the story of his terrible eye injury on the back. The only other Conigliaro in that box was a 1967, which came out before his injury.
The 1969 “Expos” cards were great because of the demonstration of close-up shots and air-brushing. The Manny Mota card (pictured as a Pirate) had the front of the helmet completely colored in with black marker while in production. Jesus Alou actually never played a game for the Expos.
Elston Howard’s 1968 is the only one of him as a Boston Red Sox player. I have his 1956 Topps from his Yankee days.
Don Larsen’s 1965 is his last original card, and has the story of his 1956 World Series no-hiter on it. Larsen actually ended his career with the Cubs 2 years later, but didn’t get enough playing time to be on a card.
Joe Adcock is often forgotten because of two Milwaukee Braves who overshadowed him on offense: Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews. The duo combined for 1,267 home runs in their careers, but Adcock hit 336 himself.
Frank Thomas – not the Big Hurt – was a good player during the 50s and 60s. Hit 250+ home runs in his career. Let the original Mets of 1962 with 34 homers. The 1961 card has him as a Chicago Cub. I look at this as a “conversation piece” card because of his name and the Chicago connection. Fool your young White Sox players by saying you have a Frank Thomas Cubs card. And if someone not a baseball fan wonders if Frank Thomas “played for the Cubs?” then the answer is yes.
All in all, this was a great visit. A local restaurant, Burger21, was a sponsor and I ate there for lunch.
The next show in Orland Park is on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Since that’s a stretch where I have some time off from work, I may go back. One minor issue I had with the show is that the aisles are very close and there’s not a whole lot of room for those who are serious about social distancing. Being a large guy doesn’t help my cause, either. This is an issue that can’t be helped by the promoters, however. If you go, just be prepared to squeeze by if needed.