About 2 hours is the longest I’ll drive solely for the purpose of going to a card show. I’ve been to Orland Park a few times, which is exactly 2 hours from my home in Sterling. The exception to this rule is for my friend Beau, who runs the monthly card shows at the Sheraton in Madison, Wisconsin. Find The Madison Card Show on Facebook for more information.
Beau and I go back to the start of the Illinois High School Glory Days website nearly 17 years ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long! We helped put the website together with its founder, Dave. Sometimes we would use baseball cards to help illustrate a popular alumni of an Illinois high school that is no longer around: Mark Clark for Balyki High in Bath (1999 Topps), and Glen Hobbie of the former Witt H.S. Speedboys (1958 Topps). Both of those are Cubs cards, which, by the way, Beau is on a mission to collect 1 MILLION of them. Go to onemillioncubs.net for more on his quest.
I last was at the Madison show about a year ago. This visit was much more vibrant. The room had tables from wall to wall to wall, and several rows in the middle. I’m a big guy, and my “squeezing by” feel was quite common. If a table had boxes of cards, when you arrived to that table, you were about two-to-three deep, kind of waiting in a mini line. When it finally became time for me to dig in an do my thing, that became an exciting moment. All of this is a testament to how popular this show has become.
The show began with 18 vendors at 23 tables in April of last year. This year’s show was a sellout at 42 vendors at 71 tables. It’s become quite the new thing in the Madison sports card world, especially after the unfortunate loss of the Baseball Card Shoppe on Madison’s west side in a flood a few years ago.
So what did I get? I’m more of a post-war vintage collector (as I’m sure you can tell after reading these blog entries), so my collecting niche is a little different than today’s popular hobby trends. It’s for that reasons why I don’t rate shows, or critique them, but just seeing the bustling atmosphere was amazing, and I’m proud for Beau. Almost anyone attending could come out of the show with a little ‘Wow’ in their head.
Top 50 Finds
I knocked two cards out of my “Want List” Top 50, 1) a Hall of Famer on a team not many knew he played for, and 2) a up-and-coming star who’s life ended under tragic circumstances.
The 1976 Topps Lyman Bostock is by no means an expensive card, but it’s a rookie card of a player who had a career .311 average before his life was taken away so soon in a shooting in Gary, Indiana. This card is in my PC to help show Bostock’s story, in a time when perhaps many have forgotten about him.
Orlando Cepeda only played a few games for the Oakland A’s, but that’s how he appears on his 1973 Topps. This nearly completes my Cepeda team arc, sans a base card of him as a Giant (I do have a 1967 Topps Cepeda/Mays card). It also is one step closer to having a card of a Hall member with service time in the 1970s with cards of each team that played on in the 1970s; I think I’m missing a couple of Hoyt Wilhelm, along with the one-off Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew cards (see my Want List for more).
Rookies and a Cody
The highlight of my rookie card finds was a 1974 Topps Dave Parker. The condition isn’t great, and that’s perhaps why it was in a $1 box of 1970s cards. Condition doesn’t really matter to me for a PC, just as long as I can say that I OWN a Dave Parker rookie.
At the same table, which was run by a Red Sox fan, I stumbled upon a 1971 Topps rookie card of two Red Sox players. This prompted me to ask my favorite Red Sox trivia question: Who was the last active player to bat without a helmet? Answer (he didn’t know for sure): Bob Montgomery. His 1980 Topps features him on-deck in a game, sans helmet. I didn’t buy the ’71, but it’s moments like this that make me enjoy visiting the vintage tables.
I did buy one Red Sox rookie card, and it wasn’t even vintage. I have a couple of 2006 Topps rookie cards of Jay Bruce and Brian Zimmerman, and when I saw Jacoby Ellsbury’s for $1, I figured, why not?
I don’t do upgrades much, but I did when I saw a 1987 Fleer Barry Larkin rookie card in better condition than the one I already have.
I also collect regional players close to me, not often, but I pounce on them when I find them. This one is a Topps reprint version of the 1968 discs with Alleman graduate Cody Sedlock as a member of the Frederick Keys. I remember covering that Alleman team at supersectionals and the state finals when the Pioneers took second in Class 2A to Normal U-High.
There were quite a bit of “firsts” for my collection. Here’s a rundown of most, with a couple of special ones afterward:
• First Elston Howard Red Sox card (1968 Topps)
• First Denny McLain Braves card (1973 Topps)
• First Ben Oglivie Red Sox card (also 1973 Topps)
• First Rick Dempsey Yankees card (1974 Topps)
• First Carl Furillo card (1959 Topps)
• First Richie Ashburn Cubs card (1961 Topps; oddly enough, I don’t have a Phillies of him, but I do have a Mets)
• First St. Louis Browns card (1953 Topps Jim Dyck)
• First Andy Pafko (also 1959 Topps)
The other two cards were at the same table. This one had a box of vintage oddballs from the 1960s: Post, Deckle Edge, Game and 1960 Leaf.
I had a double-first with a 1962 Post cereal card of recently-named HOF’er Minnie Minoso: My first Post, and my first true Minoso (besides the 1977 record breaker card). They’re not all that rare, but for $2 it was neat to have a double-first.
The other is a 1960 Leaf card of Felipe Alou. While not my first Felipe card as a Giant, it is my first 1960 Leaf card. Leaf and Fleer had dipped into the market on occasion, with this Leaf set and 1963 Fleer the most notable from the 60s. What I didn’t know about this set was that Leaf was based in Chicago at that time. The word “Leaf” doesn’t appear on the card, but Leaf’s cards were made by a Chicago-based company called Sports Novelties Inc. This set is believed to be the most mainstream one made in Chicago [Topps, New York; Fleer, Philadelphia; Donruss, Memphis].
Another interesting thing about 1960 Leaf is that it’s design was copied by the mail-order baseball card manufacturer Renata Galasso in the late 70s and early 80s. While Renata Galasso doesn’t quite fit the bill of “vintage,” 1960 Leaf and its backlight photos have the look of the time.
Also added to the PC, among others:
• 1990 Score Rookie-Traded Eric Lindros: The Blue Jays must of had this thing for sports crossovers. Danny Ainge had a stint in the early 80s. Lindros, best known as a hockey star, never suited up in an official game. The 1990 Score base set from that year has the famous Bo Jackson bat-and-pads card, and this Lindros seemed like a play on crossover players, of which were quite a few around that time (also Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan). Upper Deck must of seen this and thought a Michael Jordan card during White Sox batting practice was going to be a hit – pun intended.
• 2019 Bowman Tim Tebow: Conversation piece card.
• Of all of the cards in the legendary 1984 Donruss set, with a bunch of hall of famers and all, I now have the one card I’ve been looking for in that set. No, not the Don Mattingly rookie card. I now have a card of the San Diego Chicken.
• 1971 Topps Curt Flood: This is one year after the 1970 card that I desire, but it’s a close second among cards that tell Flood’s story of challenging baseball’s reserve clause. This features Flood as a Washington Senator, with no mention of the controversy on the back, but zeros in the 1970 stat line.
Some of these cards came from Beau’s table. I helped add to his Cubs count with a set of 1984 Cubs 7up cards. Straight trade. The 7up set is highlighted by a young Ryne Sandberg, and has guys like Dennis Eckersley, Lee Smith, late funnyman Jay Johnstone, and East Chicago’s very own Tim Stoddard (and that card has a blurry Sandburg cameo in the background).
I wanted to get there early in order to get around to all of the tables, and I did. I took a lunch break and learned that Wisconsin prep basketball history could potentially happen later that day about an hour away in Cuba City. Its longtime head coach was going for 1,000 wins, a milestone that only 20 prep hoops coaches in the nation have accomplished. I could have spent more time, but wanted to see history (even if it is in Wisconsin).
One of my potential plans for the weekend was to go to Madison, and then drive to Orland Park for its monthly show (and possibly do a double with a brief Schererville, Indiana visit), but this was scrapped. At this time, I don’t know when I’m going to go to another card show. Not too long before writing this post, I found out that there is an increased sense of urgency to take better care of my health, and that’s where the card money is going. I do want to visit Orland Park at least one more time this year, and I may have a potential lead on the “White Whale” on my Want List: the 1964 Topps Venezuelan Gary Kolb.
Maybe you learned something after reading this. That’s what I strive to do with my posts.