I originally intended to spend this vacation week entirely at home, but got the itch to travel to a card show at the very end of it.
Sunday’s trip took me to the Hyatt Regency hotel in Schaumburg, a well-off suburb of Chicago. The hotel’s proximity to global company headquarters, Woodfield Mall, and it not being all that far from O’Hare Airport gives the hotel a very “international” charm.
There had to have been plenty of money to go around at this show, and the current sports card market suits to this. I kind of knew that coming in, but thought I’d also run into some vintage dealers that I hadn’t come across before.
As it turned out, I actually came away with a lot more 21st century cards than I did vintage. Total spent on cards? $15. Total spent on a ham sandwich and a bottle of water in the hotel lobby? $10.
Those of you who are familiar with my Want List know that there also is a second, low-priority List of players, where I’m not looking for a certain type of card but as long as it’s a certain player on a certain team. Most of those cards are between 1995 and 2015, and I spent most of my time digging through those boxes. And, as with many shows, there are some cards that I across that I don’t know about and are interesting enough for me to want it.
I counted only three vintage tables, of which I bought cards from two. One is a Chicagoland regular. I learned from one of them about this show being every so often, and asked if he knew of other Chicagoland shows that happen on a regular basis. It used to seem that Skokie had a show every month, but I’m not sure now. That’s a good thing about going to these card shows more often: I’ve become more comfortable talking to dealers about things regarding the hobby.
I asked one dealer a question: “How do you think the current MLB lockout is going to affect the hobby?” His prediction was that the current cards weren’t going to move as much, and that vintage will continue to rise. I tend to agree with this. I also think 2019-2022 Bowman (and the like) will see plenty of changes and interest, too, since the lockout doesn’t affect Minor League ball, and their performance can impact card values.
So, off with the finds …
My biggest find was a 1963 Topps card of Ryne Duren. Who? Why? This is the first card to feature a baseball player wearing sunglasses. Duren rocks a pair of aviators while posing in a pitching motion for the card. Duren was one of the “original Los Angeles” Angels. Earlier in the week, I bought the 1970 Topps card of Lowell Palmer, a Phillies rookie who also rocked some shades. There’s something even more interesting about Duren in the 1963 Topps set: He is also mistakenly pictured, with shades on his head, on the Eli Grba card. I’m looking for that one now.
The next-biggest find relates more to my White Sox fandom, and that’s the 1960 Topps card of Nellie Fox. I actually had a choice between the 1960 and 1959, but chose the 1960 because it has information from the Go-Go Sox that won the AL pennant. With some exceptions, you’re going to want the card from the year after something important was accomplished.
Next up is a 1955 Bowman Gene Baker rookie card. His story is very interesting, and is worth another post for another time.
Another interesting one is a 1964 Topps card of Twins rookie Jimmie Hall. He holds the American League record for most home runs hit in a debut season with 33; note that Mark McGwire played a few games in 1986 before hitting 49 homers in 1987. Hall’s career slowly declined after that, but this footnote makes him not forgotten.
The final big card of note is a 2002 Topps Traded card of rookie Bobby Jenks. He was the closer of the 2005 World Series champion White Sox, and once tied for one of my favorite baseball records: most consecutive batters retired. The unique goldish-bronze borders of the 2002 Topps set makes them stand out among other cards in a box. In the same box I plucked this card from, there were plenty of 2002 Topps. I really wanted to come across a Jose Canseco card of him as a Montreal Expo (he never played for the Expos), but sighed when I went though the last card.
Other cards of note come from the current era, in regard to “they played for that team?” Here’s a list: John Olerud (Yankees), Kevin Brown (Yankees), Ruben Sierra (Mariners), Steve Finley (Dodgers and Angels), Ray Lankford (Padres), Ron Gant (Padres), Brady Anderson (Indians), Gary Sheffield (Braves), Tino Martinez (Devil Rays), Hideo Nomo (Devil Rays) and Carlos Delgado (Marlins).
I also plucked a 2003 Upper Deck card of Randall Simon, showing him in a Cubs uniform the year after the Milwaukee sausage race incident.
Another card now in my collection is one from the 1994 Upper Deck “Baseball: The American Epic” set. It is of Moses Fleetwood Walker, who, in 1884 for Toledo, became the first Black player to play professional baseball in a major league. We all know the story of Jackie Robinson, but Walker was the first – and last until Robinson due to a “gentlemen’s agreement” among owners for several decades.
Walker played in a time when baseball cards existed, as cards are as old as the game itself. However, Walker did not have a card from those times. His first card, which one can consider an unofficial “rookie card” comes from a 1987 Negro League retrospective set.
The “Baseball: The American Epic” set also has the first card of someone else influential in baseball history: Marvin Miller. That card of the hall of fame baseball labor great has a place on my Want List.
So I wound up not finding a whole lot of cards. The only one that I bought that I was actively searching for was the Ryne Duren in sunglasses. In talking with one of the vintage dealers, also, I was told that the monthly shows in Orland Park do have the most vintage. I am set to travel there on March 27. That may be my last show stop for a while, as I’ll begin to prioritize expenses elsewhere in life.
I will wait until after the Orland Park show to release an expanded Top 100 Want List, a secondary Want List, and a Top 20 Minor League Want List. The list structure has changed somewhat, but I didn’t want to keep editing it every so often. I did put up a “sneak peek” of the Top 100 on Facebook and Twitter – so it’s pretty much the same, except that the Ryne Duren can be crossed off.