Up close pictures available HERE.
The Northern Illinois Sports Card Show was my second trip to a show in the last 3 weeks, and it was my first time appearing at this particular show.
After several months in Loves Park, the show moved to a church near CherryVale Mall in Rockford. There were several rows of tables lined up along the gym floor and around the perimeter.
I had a feeling that this may have a lot of the current fare (the term I use for today’s multi-hundred-dollar hobby market), but to my surprise there were quite a few vintage tables. Much of what I am in search for is vintage material, but there are still some junk-era and later holes that I’d like to fill as well. Much of the latter, however, involves a long time sifting through boxes and boxes.
Overall, I came away filling plenty of Want List finds and completed a few more personal “team arcs”; my term for collecting at least one card of a player for each team they played for.
The first table I stopped at had a few boxes on the table that were marked 75% off, and I was told that if there was not a price on the card, that it was a nickel. These were Cubs, Sox and Brewers card over the last 30 years, so I thought, maybe I’ll find something from my bottom end of my list through these. Vintage? No. But I came away with three totally random cards that weren’t in a sleeve:
• A Robin Ventura manager card from Topps Archives: Looks like a 1965 card, but this is my first Ventura manager card. I’m a White Sox fan. This counts.
• 1998 Bowman International Carlos Lee (RC): I like the Bowman International sets, probably because I also like looking at maps. He banged out plenty of hime runs in his career.
• 1993 Flair Graeme Lloyd (RC): Huh? Who? Baseball is a game that has seen specialization roles in recent years. Lloyd was one of the first “Lefty One Out GuY,” or a “loogy”. The Australian native is the first of such to win a World Series. These specialization roles are quite simple, with failure quite damaging: You have one job, so do it. So maybe this position isn’t as noted as a pinch runner (see 1975 Topps’ Herb Washington), but it’s a big role at crucial times. That’s why I want a Lloyd rookie card, from his Brewers years, in my collection. Actually, I already have his Upper Deck from this year, but the Flair is an upgrade. Lloyd also is in Australia’s equivalent to its sports Hall of Fame.
All that digging, three cards, $0.15. Since a dealer rarely carries around coins with them, this pretty much rounded down to me having them for free.
Next up was a vintage table with rows of cards in hard plastic sleeves inside a few boxes. There were no prices for these cards: He’d take a look at then offer me a price. For someone on a budget, this was a sign for me to proceed with caution. In doing this, I find what I’d like to find, set them aside, and then go through that pile one more time to see if they are ones I really want; and also ask myself, do I think there is somewhere that I know for sure I can get it cheaper than a mystery price. After doing the math, I had a number in mind. I handed the stack over for the final word. I thought $25. He said $30. We agreed on $27.
In that stack were the following new additions, plus others – all Topps:
• 1974 Yogi Berra Mets manager card (I have a Yankees manager card, as well as an Astros coach card from the 1987 Topps set). Card fresh off a World Series appearance in 1973.
• 1971 Gil Hodges Mets manager card, bought fresh off his recent induction to the Hall of Fame. My first original Hodges.
• 1971 Hoyt Wilhelm, who remembers him being on the Cubs?
• 1974 Tony Olvia, also fresh off his recent induction into the Hall of Fame.
• 1974 Orlando Cepeda, last original card of the HOFer, as a Red Sox player.
• 1974 Harmon Killebrew, my first Killebrew base card.
• 1968 Eddie Mathews, as a Detroit Tiger. Dealer showed me three other Eddies of that set in better condition. Unlike most collectors, condition doesn’t really matter to me since I’m not in the business of investing.
• 1971 Bud Harrelson: One of the most interesting “cameo cards” of the 1970s goes well with one of Topps’ most landmark sets in terms of photography. This year’s black bordered cards had action photos for the first time, and Harrelson’s picture of him tagging out a sliding baserunner just happens to have Nolan Ryan’s back in it.
• 1972 rookie cards of Darrell Porter, Doyle Alexander and Terry Forster: All minor stars of the 70s.
I only wound up hitting three more dealers, they had vintage stuff from $0.25 to $1. One table took care of several other Want List finds: 1972 Dick Allen, 1970 rookie and 1973 Jerry Reuss, 1960 Red Schoendienst (Braves), 1971 Gene Lamont RC (native of nearby Kirkland), and most of all – a 1965 Gary Kolb that completed my original Kolb Topps arc. Kolb is a native of Rock Falls, and I now have all of his original Topps cards. Still seeking his 1964 Venezuelan (my #1 Want List card), and his 1978 TCMY non-original card depicting him as a Met.
One table saw me nab three cards, but the experience was a disaster. The cards were in those stupid “card saver II” sleeves, and packed tight in a row box. Sifting through them was painful – really – because digging into another stack literally made the back part of my left middle fingernail bleed. I didn’t see this after a couple of more stacks, and when I saw it, I immediately stopped. There was still more box left to dig, but not if it’s going to cut me. We dealt with this situation like adults, and all was taken care of, but I suggest that this isn’t not a good way to present the cards for sale.
Sorry for being so picky, and I realize people are trying to make money, but that type of sleeve is not a good one.
Since I had to work later that day back in town, I cut out pretty early in the day. Upon realizing that I needed one card that I looked at earlier in the day, I went back in and got it. That was a 1971 Topps Vada Pinson, as a Cleveland Indian. Pinson is one of those players who had a great career, but not many people today know of him.
As with the aforementioned 1971 Harrelson, Pinson’s cameo is of another 70s star: Thurman Munson. Topps is based in New York, and much of its photography came from Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium; that means Munson has cameos on plenty of 1970s action shot cards. Munson’s first appearance on a cameo is with the 1970 Topps Jake Gibbs card (in my Top 20 Want List), in a set that has Munson’s rookie card.
Sans fingernail, it was a good day to get a lot of interesting cards, including several firsts of Hall of Famers.
I also want to give a shout out to my friend, Cordell, who runs Most Valuable Breaks Sports Cards and Memorabilia with a couple of partners. He was at this show. MVB is a very active group that deals with lots of the current market. Find them on Facebook at “MVB” for all up-to-date things around the current sports scenes.