Peoria Card Buys and road trip observations: March 26, 2022

I felt the itch to make one more baseball card hunt over the weekend, despite initially thinking that I’d wait a while until later in the year. Well, I just couldn’t stay cooped up in the house and found another show at Northwoods Mall in Peoria to see if I can knock off a few cards from my want lists.

Going to Peoria intrigued me because I haven’t paid a visit there in 4 years, which is odd considering that for a stretch of about 10 years I made about three visits a year for sports stuff. I passed through sometimes, but didn’t have any purpose to stop since the last time I covered the 2018 IHSA Cross Country State Meet at Detweiler Park.

I knew it was one of the rather smaller shows, and wanting to sort of explore the town more – just to see what’s new – I included a couple of small card shops in my plans that I wanted to hit before the mall show began at 11 a.m.

Overall, I came away with 14 finds from the Top 100 Want List, including one Top 15 find. BUT … I didn’t find one single card at the mall. There were a couple of outside chances of finding a few things. Scrolling through the boxes that were there, I was really looking forward to finding a couple of Cardinals cards – one of John Smoltz, and the other of Ron Fairly from the 1976 set. I struck out, but I did get a nice two-lap walk around the mall.

So my original purpose of making the trip wound up being a bust, but I’m glad that I decided to make the visits to the two shops, because that’s where I found 15 cards I came away with, 14, as mentioned, from the Top 100. The 14 cards is a high among shows that I visited in recent months, including Madison, Rockford, Orland Park and Schaumburg (where I actually found plenty on my secondary want list).

Being someone who is looking for vintage cards, many of the popular shows won’t have a whole lot because all the money is with the current product – save for Orland Park’s show – so it didn’t really surprise me that I walked away from the mall empty-handed. I also did get to see my friend Cordell, who I heard sold a Jordan rookie there, so congrats to him!

The two shops that I paid a visit to were Wendy’s Creative Collections and Coins (3223 N. Prospect Road), and Baseball Card City (2248 W. Glen Ave.).

Wendy’s opened first, so I went there at 9 a.m. The store is kind of like Jennings’ store in Freeport, which I’ve written about already: Coins, cards and precious metals, anything with an investment theme to it. Wendy, the store owner, is the store’s vintage card expert – it’s always great to see a woman in the hobby, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot in it. A lot of her cards were vintage Topps, with packs and sets from the years afterward on the shelves. The single cards are labeled in boxes, and I wound up digging through several of them to find some of the cards on my list.

When it was said and done, and not wanting to take up a whole lot of time because the store got to be quite busy, I came away with five cards:

• 1970 Topps Jake Gibbs: The No. 14 card on my Top 100, best known for having a cameo of a rookie Thurman Munson in the background (so happens to be that Munson’s rookie card is in this set)
• 1964 Topps Dick Radatz: The year after he set a MLB record for strikeouts in a season for relief pitchers
• 1965 Topps Phil Linz: The year after the infamous “Harmonica Incident” with Yogi Berra
• 1954 Topps Al Rosen: The year after he hit 43 home runs, and this also is my first original 1954 Topps card, so the only year of the 20th century I’m missing is card from the 1951 Red or Blue Backs set. I also have an interesting story involving the 1994 reprint set that I’ll write in a future blog entry sometime soon.
• 1953 Topps Bobo Newsom: My first original card of a player who played in the 1920s, and faced Babe Ruth. Of the three 1953 cards that I have, this one is the most crisp, but it looked like someone stapled it to something. I’m not worried about condition, though. Newsom also is the first player I have an original card of from the famous Ogden Nash poem “Line-Up For Yesterday.” To date, Newsom is the only player mentioned in the poem to not be inducted in the Hall.

Came away with those for a fair price, and made my way north on Prospect and west on Glen to my second stop at Baseball Card City. This place is more sports cards and memorabilia, and had a lot of singles from recent years. I almost only walked away with one card, but once I showed the owner, Randy, my Top 100, he directed me to some boxes of vintage that he had recently purchased. So I took a dive in them, and came away with eight:

• 1976 Topps cards of Andy Messersmith, and rookie cards of Willie Randolph and Matt Alexander: Messersmith known for his role in free agency, Alexander has the all-time record for most pinch running appearances for a career
• 1973 Topps cards of managers Leo Durocher and Whitey Herzog: 1972 was the only year these Hall of Fame managers were managing in the same year, both in Texas: Durocher for the Astros and Herzog for the Rangers.
• 1975 Topps cards of Gary Matthews and Claude Osteen
• 1969 Topps Billy Martin: His first card as a manager

I got a pretty good price on those cards, too. The one card that I almost came away with, but did not, was a 1969 Topps Gary Kolb. I actually already have one, but I’m looking to have two of each of his original Topps cards: I need one from 1965 and one from 1969.

HOPPY OPINION ALERT: I almost bought that Kolb card, until I saw on the corner of it that it was one of those Topps 50th Anniversary archive cards with the gold stamp on it. It’s the original card, printed in 1969, but lately Topps has been inserting those in packs with that ugly gold stamp on it. This, and the “rediscover Topps” cards that also have printed stamps on them, in my opinion, was a very STUPID idea from Topps. The stamps are unnecessary. One can tell by texture alone that they are the real vintage cards.

Apparently, those stamps don’t decrease the value of the cards? Let me put it this way: If I personally slapped a stamp on a card, the value immediately decreases. If Topps puts out a card in a pack that’s been mis-cut or off-center, the value is immediately decreased. Printing mistakes decrease the value of cards. Intentional manipulations of cards that are not meant to be perforated (like the 70’s Hostess cards) decrease the value of cards. But Topps slapping a stamp on them – many years later – doesn’t make the card any worse? In my opinion, those cards are damaged, and should have a value reflecting the damage done on those cards.

I know there are collectors that disagree with me, and that’s fine. They certainly can consider such cards to still be worth it, just not me.

The Alexander card actually wasn’t on the Top 100, but I had plans to add it if there ever came to be a void on the list. Really, it’s a Top 100 “bonus card” of sorts.

Once I left the mall, I decided to take one more peek at my Want List. There were still some Topps cards left on it, and knowing that Wendy’s was about to close in 90 minutes, decided to make the drive back there to find some more. The second trip only resulted in two more cards: a 1974 Topps Ken Brett and a 1973 Topps Don Wilson. Since there are commons, I was initially given them for nothing, but I tipped her for all of the help and time spent to help me find what I’m looking for.

In the last couple of months, the vintage Topps cards on my want lists have whittled down to only a few. However, the bulk of the cards are starting to be more oddball.

The total spent on the 15 cards was $23.50. I was charged tax at Wendy’s. Between that, and the cost to drive down to Peoria, it evened out from making $35 on two big boxes of cards that I sold on the local “spring cleaning” sites on Facebook. Those boxes had a total of about 10,000 cards in them, and it was pretty much a trade for 15 cards and travel costs. I’m down 9,985 cards, but that created some much-needed space in my card room, and I got cards that I wanted.

It was a good trip.

Orland Park show earlier this month

I didn’t write about my recent trip to Orland Park this month due to work commitments, but I did come away with about 20 cards.

The want list highlights among them were all Topps: 1965 Ken Johnson, only pitcher to toss a 9-inning no-hitter and lose; 1968 Bill Rohr rookie, who threw 8-2/3 innings of consecutive no-hit ball in his major league debut in 1967, broken up by Elston Howard with one out to go; 1969 Ray Washburn, the first pitcher to toss a no-hitter the game after his team got no-hit; and the highlight being a high-series 1972 Rick Dempsey rookie card.

Once again, I underestimated my budget and walked in with less cash than I thought. I had to pass on a 1972 high-series traded Denny McLain due to not bringing enough cash with me. That would have completed by McLain team arc.

I only purchased cards from two tables this visit. Since a lot of the vendors are the same, and I’ve pretty much picked through the same product, I’m going to take a break from going to Orland Park for a while. It’s a great show with a good mix of current and vintage, with probably more vintage than other Chicago shows; and that’s why I’ve always come back.

More cards sold

I also recently sold a box of about 650 cards of late 1970s to early 2000s – all base and insert cards of Hall of Fame players – for $30. I’m setting that money aside for the next show, wherever and whenever that may be. I do know that I’ll be in Springfield on April 9, but not sure if I’ll hit any card shops.

I’m working on another box of about 5,000 cards, similar to the ones I sold on Spring Cleaning. That will take some time to put together since about 1/3 of it is coming from my personal stash.

I also will have a small lot of 1973 Topps for sale in a couple months, which will include a Goose Gossage rookie card. More details to come then.

Other Peoria-area stops

Road trip observations here:

As mentioned, since many high school state finals are/were in the Peoria area, I’ve made several visits. What I love about most about Peoria is its nighttime skyline, both as seen from the I-74 bridge looking north, and from the high-up Fondulac Drive in East Peoria.

The drive down from Sterling includes a pass-through of a small town called Camp Grove, population 119. The tiny town still has its own independent state bank after all these years, which I find neat. The area is largely, if not entirely, agricultural, so it keeps going.

I had never been to Peoria Heights until this visit, I never had a purpose to go there. I enjoyed the high views of the Illinois River along Prospect Road. I also didn’t know it once was home to a Pabst Brewing Company plant. There is a place called “The 33 Room” there that’s a pub and a museum of sorts, which I’ll have to visit on my next trip. Also didn’t know that the water tower has an overlook at the top. So I’ll have to visit that, too.

I’m not a beer drinker, but I am fascinated with beer brewing history. Pabst is one of my more favorite styles, solely by appearance. I once had a Pabst Blue Ribbon cheeseburger at a bar in Kewanee: The Pabst beer was deep-fried into a square that was placed on top of the beef patty between the buns. Cerno’s in downtown Kewanee.

One place I did go to was the Midway Duck-In along Route 26 between Lacon and Spring Bay, along the Illinois River. I’ve driven by a few times, but never stopped until now. It’s one of those old, rustic log cabin motif bar and grills, best known for their pan-grilled chicken with Panko breading (popular in Japan). I had the chicken strips. They were good.

Peoria used to be the second-largest city in Illinois, since passed by Rockford, Aurora, Joliet and Naperville. I’m finding more things to do in Peoria than I am in Rockford, a credit to Peoria’s tourism industry.

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