Located across from Number One Chinese Restaurant is the Dollar Inn Hotel. I Googled the Dollar Inn from my cell phone and read several reviews that complained of bed bugs. I then Googled Motel 6 and learned that there were some up north. Motel 6 is my go to motel because they are usually cheap and clean. After a short drive, I easily found a Motel 6 that seemed to be in a nice part of town. Lying in the motel bed reading Facebook on my iPhone, I saw a post that Ernie Banks had died. I was heartbroken. Ernie was a hero in my house growing up. My dad was a beer and hot dog vendor at Wrigley Field during the first half of Ernie's career. So dad watched most every game Ernie ever played and stories about Ernie's greatness permeated many childhood dinners and road trips. Dad is coming in from Florida to attend Ernie's funeral.
I was about five years old when Ernie retired from baseball and I don't remember watching him play. I do remember him as a fixture at Wrigley Field throughout the 1970s, a decade where I attended dozens of games every summer. I remember Ernie out front on the corner of Clark & Addison greeting fans. In the summer of 1975, I went to Wrigley with a youth group for a tour of the field. To my surprise, our tour guide was Ernie Banks. About two dozen or so kids followed Ernie through the stadium and out onto the field. He took us to the outfield where we touched the ivy. It was an awesome day.
I appreciated Ernie Banks for what he did on the field as a player and how he carried himself as a human being. I don't think there will every be as great an ambassador for the Cubs or major league baseball as Ernie Banks. RIP Ernie.
I can't think of a better way to celebrate the life of Ernie Banks than to swap stories with fellow baseball fanatics at a card show. I was up bright and early on Saturday, January 24, 2015, for the Fishers American Legion Post Baseball Card Show. The show starts at 8 a.m. I like to show up an hour early for set up so I woke up at 5:30 a.m. which was really 4:30 a.m. because Indy is an hour ahead. As my regular readers know, I don't do mornings well and was slow going on this particular morning.
I had taken all my cards out my car and brought them up to the room the night before for safe keeping. So I had to reload the car in the morning. I then tried to plug the address for the Fishers American Legion Post into my GPS. The street would not show up! Slight panic set in until I Googled Fishers American Legion Post and learned it was in a town called Fishers and not located in Indy proper. The listing in Beckett stated the show was located in Indianapolis. I had about a 20-minute ride to the show.
Once at the American Legion Post, I was greeted by modern card dealer extraordinaire John Dobiecki. John lives in northern Indiana and I regularly see him at shows in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor. I saw my name on two tables next to John and loaded in. Set up across from me was another dealer I know from the Orland shows Juan Ruiz, who also lives in Indiana. I always thought Juan was a modern card dealer but he had some vintage items on his table at this show. Set up next to John was another dealer I know from southern Indiana but his name escapes me. I ended up buying some cards from him.
The best part of the Fishers America Legion Post is the bar/restaurant which was open during the show and serving breakfast! YES!!! I was starving and in desperate need of coffee. For five bucks I got a gianormous plate of pancakes with thick meaty bacon and a large cup of coffee. Oh man. That bacon was about the best I ever had. It wasn't that fatty type you get at Jewel grocery store in the Chicago area. I couldn't even finish those pancakes. I made sure I tipped the friendly bartender and got bottomless cups of coffee the rest of the day.
Once set up, I was greeted by an old codger racing around the room in one of those motorized scooters. He thumbed through a couple binders and asked if I had a '68 Ryan and a '68 Mantle, Mays, Killebrew combo card. I had the combo card and showed it to him. It high books at $150. Mine was off grade and I priced it at $40. He sort of demanded I sell it to him at $20. I offered $30. He went into a rant stating how he has been doing this for 40 years and only pays $20. I responded that I too have been doing this for 40 years and I only sell the card for $30. He zoomed away at about 2 miles per hour.
Speedy Gonzales came back about an hour later and was much nicer this time around. He told me how he used to set up at shows regularly. His main thing was plaques. I remember back in the late 1980s and early 1990s there were always a few guys set up with nothing but plaques on their tables. They would make these things in their garage by cutting up some wood into squares, they stained the squares, slapped on a name plate and a card in a top loader and attempted to sell the plaques for $15 to $20 each. My new friend, I think he said his name was something like Big Daddy Dave, stopped setting up at shows at one point and wholesaled out his plaques to dealers until the craze ended. I think I've seen someone with a table full of plaques just once in the last 20 years which occurred about three years ago at the Serb Hall show in Milwaukee. I ended up selling Big Daddy Dave the combo card for $25.
The room filled up pretty quickly. What stood out the most was the fact there were so many kids in the room. It was nice to see. I set up at many shows where at age 48, I'm the youngest guy by 20 years. Another thing about this show is that most of the customers were very friendly and eager for conversation.
I got to talking to one customer who purchased some commons from the 1960s and my 1962 Post Orlando Cepeda. Like most Hoosiers, he is a big college basketball fan. He told me that his favorite college basketball player was Rick Mount from nearby Lebanon, Indiana, and a star at Purdue from 1966 to 1970. He told me Mount was the purest shooter in college history. Mount never played in the NBA. Instead he went with the hometown Indiana Pacers of the ABA where he was a member of the 1972 Championship team. He was a pretty decent player in the ABA where he starred for five years. A shoulder injury stymied his career.
My next customer pulled out a large pile of 1971 Topps baseball and also purchased my '71 Clemente. A customer from Fort Wayne purchased my 1954 Bowman Mickey Mantle and the day got rolling. I was busy all day. A few guys balked at my prices. I know my prices are fair and I'm not going to give my stuff away. I think next time I'll make sure I have a cheapy box or two for these guys.
Another customer purchased a bunch of 1964 Topps baseball. I sold my 1972 Topps Roberto Clemente In Action card to a customer who stopped to chat for a while. He told me he is selling off most of his post-War collection and starting to buy pre-War cards heavily. He showed me a picture on his phone of a beautiful T206 Walter Johnson. Then there was a guy I met last weekend in Fort Wayne who purchased all of my 1953 Bowman baseball out of my binder. A guy who said he collects oddball stuff purchased a 1972 Kelloggs Pete Rose and '72 Kelloggs Nolan Ryan. I sold my 1963 Bazooka All-Time Greats Christy Mathewson to a customer who said former major league pitcher Ewell Blackwell was his great uncle. Blackwell played for the Reds in the 1940s and 1950s. He also spent a couple years with the Yankees in the early 1950s. The customer said his grandmother has a large collection of Blackwell autographed items. No game-used items. He wasn't sure if anyone in his family had Blackwell's contract with the Yankees.
An older gentleman wearing Colts cap purchased some 1960s Topps and 1952 Bowman baseball. I observed that quite a few guys showed up at my table with lists in hand which is what I like to see. Overall, I had a really nice day. On the buying front, only one guy showed up at my table with some stuff. He had large quantities of 1974 and 1975 Topps football. He wanted to trade not sell. I declined. I don't want to give up my Mantles for a bunch common football cards from the mid-1970s which I already have in large quantity back home in the card bunker.
I really liked this show. I reserved two tables for the April 18th show where Carl Erskine will be signing. I'd come back sooner but I already booked other shows. I was second to last to load out. The last dealer left in the room was John. Jeff's wife and kids helped John load out. I think John had a real good day as well. He said he bought a lot of cards so he wasn't taking much cash home.
I got into my car and set the GPS for the Sharonville Holiday Inn in Cincinnati. It was an absolutely beautiful day, pictured below. The sun was out and the drive was quick and pleasant. I did not know that Cincinnati was so hilly. I love seeing hills since I live in flat country. The Holiday Inn was smack dab on the side of a large hill. Across the street was a Motel 6 where I spent the night.
The Sharonville Show was a flashback to shows from the 1980s. The room was huge. There may have been 100 tables or so largely filled with vintage cards. I was intimidated right when I stepped foot into the room, especially when I saw the guy's table next to me who had 10 Pete Rose Rookies in one of his cases, pictured below. There was some power in that room. I initially was going to put out four display cases and fill up the rest of my space with binders. I had two 6-foot tables. For some reason, I assumed I would be getting 8-footers. Twelve feet of space is not much. I decided to put out three display cases, all of my baseball binders and two football binders.
In general, it was pretty quiet at my tables. It felt like a Sun-Times show where people just walked on by. Actually, a few customers recognized me from the Sun-Times show which was pretty cool. I spent a lot of time talking to the dealer next to me, whose name escapes me. But what a super nice guy. He doesn't do a whole lot of shows because he has a farm north of Indianapolis and said his cows are a lot of work. I also spent much of the day hanging out with my friend Tony Schaefer who was set up just down the aisle. Tony was on the second leg of an Ohio trip. Read his blog here. Tony always purchases some cards from me which I appreciate. We made plans to hang out before the St. Louis show on February 8, 2015.
A few guys offered cards to sell. One older customer who looked a lot like Casey Stengel had a binder of Reds cards from the 1950s and 1960s but his prices were too high. Another guy had some Reds team issued cards from 1938. I have never seen these cards before. They look like a cross between 1952 Berk Ross and 1949 Bowman. They are cool. He wanted to sell the whole stack. I asked if I could buy one or two cards. I didn't want to buy the whole stack because I knew absolutely nothing about these cards. From a dealer's perspective, I need to know how much I can sell them for before I place an offer. The only way to learn how they sell is to buy a few but I was not going to buy the whole stack. At least one other customer came around looking for these cards. So I think these are something that will sell in Cincinnati but I do not know if I can move them in the shows I do outside of Cincinnati. I would like to pick up a few of these things down the road. Like I said, I thought they were pretty cool.
Next weekend, I'm heading back up the Holland, Michigan, for the Holland Civic Center show on Saturday, January 31, 2015. I was impressed with this show last time where I only had one table. Mark Smith was kind enough to give me his booth this time around because he is setting up in Detroit. So I am going to bring out the whole kit and caboodle for this one because I have a ton of space. I am going to have all nine display cases out and all of my binders. I am also going to see what I can dig up in the next couple of days like some complete sets from the 1970s. I am really looking forward to this show... especially the concession stand which is the best around!
On Super Bowl Sunday, February 1, 2015, I am setting up at the Schaumburg Show where the hotel has once again changed its name -- it is now a Wyndham Garden. I consider the Schaumburg Show my home base and it will be nice to be back home after all these travels. I just finished up a new 1973 Topps baseball binder along with a reload of 1972-73 Topps hockey. I am going to start work on a new 1974 Topps baseball binder but I don't think I will have it done by the weekend. There are just too many cards in that 1974 set. I also include the Traded set.
I really enjoyed myself this past weekend. I met a ton of new people and really appreciated all the good conversation and hope to see you folks again real soon. Thanks everybody!