Oh my! I am tired!! Back-to-back three-day shows, man oh man! Many dealers I talked to in Strongsville did the same back to backs as me and are now heading to Chantilly this weekend for another three-day show! I think that would do me in. Thankfully, I am just doing a mere two shows this upcoming weekend with my show in Oak Creek on Saturday and the Schaumburg show on Sunday. No rest for the weary!
I may be tired but, man, I am having some fun! Strongsville was a good time and it was great to be back there after a three year COVID hiatus. Admittedly, I had some concerns prior to the show with this one being the first with Leland's Auctions in charge. The former promoter Paul Fusco died right before the 2019 show -- he was my favorite promoter and the reason I regularly drove five-plus hours to set up at this yearly show.
Paul did not allow any modern cards at the show. He was strict and policed the room, making this a unique show and heaven for vintage guys like myself. Prior to the show, I saw quite a few postings on the Strongsville show website and on Facebook that modern cards were now acceptable. I started to wonder whether I was making a mistake continuing on as a dealer at this show. I mean, I can set up at a show with mixed modern and vintage close to home, no need to drive all the way to Ohio.
Thankfully, I did not see much modern at the show and I hope that is the case for years to come. Once there are a bunch of modern dealers in the room then I'm done with the show. Like I said, no need to drive hours for what may become a run-of-the-mill show.
While the show was pretty great, all in all, one thing I did not like about this year's show was the number of autograph guests and the amount of people those guests brought in simply for the autographs. These folks were not interested in cards and just clogged the room with their mullets, Mohawks, tattoos and three-foot beards.
Though, I have to admit, this made for some great people-watching all weekend long. My favorite was the guy who had a large tattoo of a face on the back of his head. Whether it was the front set or the back set of eyes, I felt like I was being watched the whole show!
I also saw some pretty great T-shirts all weekend long. One guy had the 1987 Fleer Billy Ripken $%#&face card blown up on a T-shirt. That one was probably my favorite. I saw some other cool ones like a yellow T-shirt featuring a portrait of Rocky Colavito. Pretty much everyone who attended the show wore some sort of Cleveland sports-related jacket, T-shirt or jersey. These folks were representing!
I did see a handful of Cubs hats and coats and one guy wearing a Carlton Fisk White Sox jersey and hat. Also, quite a bit of Detroit Tigers gear in the room along with some Cincinatti Bengals stuff.
I also saw a few people from home that made the trip out like George and Christy and Tom D. Great seeing you guys in Strongsville!
It was also great to catch up with old friends like Mark Smith, Hockey Greg, Craig from Akron, Mike Knezevic, Tim and Susan Payne, and my booth neighbor Dave and his family. Spending the weekend with these folks made it well worth the effort.
Historically, I have not done well at this show and continued to attend each year just to see these guys and to be in a room filled with some of the greatest vintage cards and memorabilia you can find outside of the National. This show was no exception. Mile High had a T206 Wagner and a 1933 Goudey Lajoie at their booth.
The guy set up across from Mark Smith had four '33 Goudey Ruths and three or four '52 Topps Mantle rookies. There were some serious heavy hitters in the room. There was also some of the highest prices I have ever seen at a show. Is the '53 Topps Satchel Paige worth that much or was everybody just jacking it up because we were in the Cleveland area? Low-grade Paiges were like $1,500! Wasn't that just a $200 card a few years ago?
Everybody and their mother asked me if I had a '53 Paige. Actually, they all asked if I had a low-grade, beat up and worn '53 Paige. Nobody was to pay $3,500 for a Paige. I do not currently have any Satchel Paige cards. It has been a few years since I had one and at these prices, I don't see myself getting one again.
In addition to the great inventory at the show, another thing I really like about the Strongsville show is that it is the only one where I can sell a guy like Bob Lemon. Man, I can't give those things away anywhere else! It was really great to move some Bob Lemon cards.
Now I am thinking I need to set up in Philadelphia to get rid of my glut of Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn cards. Those guys may be hall-of-famers but nobody wants their cards.
Folks were asking me for Indians cards all weekend. They were also picking out all of my vintage Browns football cards. I sold quite a few football cards this weekend. I only had one six-foot table and room for just four display cases. So, I really had to pair down my regular show inventory for this one. I did not have enough space to put out my basketball and hockey cards. On Sunday, a customer asked if I had any vintage basketball. I pulled out my stack and he purchased a third of it! I think the buyer's name was Mark. Thanks Mark!
I did not see much vintage basketball in the room other than the obligatory Lou Alcindor and Dr. J rookies (man, like Paige, those things have jumped in price!) but I did observe a surprisingly large number of vintage hockey cards. My pal Greg had some rare competition!
Over at my table, the big winner was my new friend Lar, who purchased a good amount of cards all three days. Thanks Lar! You made my show! I actually had my best show ever in Strongsville.
So my pal Dave McDonald and I drove out Thursday afternoon from the Chicago area and arrived at the show around 6:30 p.m. to set up. Afterwards, we went across the street to check into the Super 8 and received kind of an ugly room. The shade didn't cover the whole front window and I had to place a bed sheet over it to get some privacy and keep the morning sun out.
We then went looking for food and found the Rosewood Grill nearby on Royalton Road. The Rosewood closed at 9 p.m. We arrived at 8:50 p.m. and the kind bartender allowed us to sit at the bar, order food and have a few beers. We drank some pints of an IPA from local brewery Great Lakes Brewing which were fantastic. Dave ate a salad while I had some glazed salmon that was delicious. I really appreciate the good food and excellent hospitality from the kind lady behind the bar.
The next day, Friday, was really confusing. Leland's initially posted that the show opened to VIPs at 10:30 a.m. However, a week before the show, they moved the VIP start time to noon. So Dave and I figured we could take a leisurely morning, sleep in, get breakfast and arrive at the show around 11 a.m.
We woke up around 9 a.m. and were out the door by 10 a.m. I found a breakfast spot via Google called Scramblers, about two miles away on Pearl Road. What a nice restaurant! Dave loves his pancakes while I am an eggs benedict guy. Scramblers did not disappoint! Dave was served the largest pair of pancakes I have ever witnessed. There was a sign on the wall stating pancakes were bottomless. I don't know if that was a joke but I don't see how anybody could finish one plate of those pancakes. I was impressed that Dave got two-thirds through the plate.
Anyway, we arrived at the show around 11 a.m., and observed that the event was well on its way. Apparently, the VIPs did not get the message that the start time was moved two hours back and they lined up at 10 a.m. and demanded to be let into the room. So, unfortunately, Dave and I missed the first hour of the show.
Once open for business, sales came often. Most were of the $10 to $15 variety but I did have a few much higher. I remember that my first sale was a 1964 Topps Willie Stargell purchased by the guy wearing the Fisk jersey. I also sold my 1967 Topps Tommy John high number. I can't remember what else I sold. I know there were some T205s and 1940 Play Balls that I sold. Day one of the show went until 8 p.m. It was a long day. I was tired at the end but happy with a pocket full of cash.
Dave, unfortunately, did not have his usual monster show. He has quite a few regulars at this show and NONE of them were there! Where was everybody? We are especially worried about our friend Lenny from Grand Rapids, MI, who we usually see at both the National and Strongsville. We did not see him at either show. Hope you are okay Lenny!
Dave's lack of sales made him a little slap happy. Our friend Craig gave us a couple of minor league home run balls he picked up in Arizona recently. Dave thought he could drum up some business if he placed the ball on his display case stating that it was signed by Lou Gehrig but the signature had rubbed off. No takers.
Dave then sold a tiny marble which had a Sam McDowell picture embedded in it. McDowell just happened to be at the show signing his recent biography. Dave convinced the buyer of the marble to bring it over to McDowell and ask him to sign it. A short while later, the buyer returned and showed us the marble signed by McDowell.
The buyer said he told McDowell he had a unique item for him to sign. The buyer said that when he pulled out the marble, McDowell exclaimed, "What's that? I don't remember ever authorizing that thing." The buyer said McDowell was happy to sign the marble and they all had a good laugh.
Pictured below is the marble signed by McDowell.
After the show, Leland's threw a pizza party for the dealers in the hotel restaurant. Free beer and pizza! Woot! Dave and I enjoyed hanging out with Mike and Tim at the pizza party. The pizza was homemade and tasted pretty good. I am actually a pizza snob being from Chicago, the home of the greatest pizza in the world. You might think that I am in love with Chicago deep dish as it seems to be portrayed in the media as Chicago-style pizza. I actually prefer a thin crust pizza called Chicago Tavern-style pizza. Oh my, there is nothing like a tavern style pie!
If you are ever in Chicago for one of the Rosemont shows, I recommend you order tavern style by delivery to your hotel from Al's Pizzeria on Lawrence Avenue in nearby Harwood Heights, Illinois. I used to live by Al's and ordered a thin-crust pie weekly back in the day.
Anyway, I had a little trouble sleeping that night. I don't sleep very well away from home. It is always strange not to have my wife and dog in the bed. As a result, I over slept Saturday morning. Once again, we were late to the show.
Dave got frustrated with me and walked over to the show. When I finally arrived, Tim pointed to his watch.
Nice crowd once again on Saturday but sales were much slower for me. I can't remember what I sold. I do remember that I sold all of my T207s. I also sold my 1950 Wheaties Bob Feller. A lot of people looked at my 1952 Bowman small Ollie Matson but were discouraged by the large gum stain on the front. During one of my bathroom breaks, Dave sold my 1965 Philadelphia Johnny Unitas. Thanks Dave!
Saturday's show went to 6 p.m. and, man, was I hungry. Dave wanted to eat at either Rosewood again or City Barbecue. Either would have been great but I have a City Barbecue by my house and wanted to try something new. Craig advised that we could find restaurants for miles if we drove south on Pearl. We took Craig's advice and drove to Brunswick, OH, and stopped at a place called 9ers Diner and Grill. Dave and I both wanted wings and 9ers had a sign for wings on its front window.
We both ordered a sampler plate. I chose for my sampler to have brisket, turkey, mild bone-out wings (you couldn't get bone-in wings with the sampler) and a side of broccoli and baked beans. The big winner was the brisket which was very good. The rest, not so much. The wings were nasty. I knew better. I never like bone-out wings.
Dave had the brisket, garlic wings, pulled pork, mac & cheese and cole slaw. He also was not a big fan of the wings. He said the big winner was the mac & cheese.
To drink, we tried a funky citrus beer. I can't remember the name or the brewery but it was a good beer.
9ers has a heck of a breakfast menu. I'd like to go back for breakfast sometime. Also, I have to mention the really great service we received at 9ers... nice people.
We were back at the hotel early and watched a few hours of boxing on TV until we passed out. It sure was fun watching boxing with Dave who is a super-knowledgeable boxing fan. I never get to watch boxing at home because my wife and kids hate it. I grew up watching boxing and still love it. The one boxing match I saw live was in Cleveland in 1981 where my dad took me to see Roberto Duran fight some nobody. Don King was there, and it was real fun. I still have the ticket stub. We were in Cleveland for the baseball all-star game. My dad always has a great knack for finding additional fun stuff to do.
I made a point to arrive at the show on time on Sunday. I figured I could grab breakfast at the hotel restaurant but when I arrived it was closed. Sadness. I ate a crappy burger from the hotel food stand which did not cut it.
There was a few inches of snow on the ground Sunday morning and I was worried the weather would negatively effect the crowd. Wrong! Largest Sunday crowd I have ever seen at this show.
Seemed like more window shoppers than the first two days. Sales were down. Dave actually had his best day selling cards on Sunday. A couple of his regulars finally arrived.
Kind of an odd thing I observed all weekend was watching folks come by two or three times before making a purchase. On Sunday, a father and son team stopped by a few times before purchasing just about all of my Nolan Ryan cards. Lots of kids at the show all weekend long.
One guy came by my table several times each day. On Sunday, he finally asked to look at some cards but did not make a purchase. I was a little perplexed.
Another odd thing about this show was that it would get rather loud, especially when the Leland guy was on the microphone announcing the various autograph guests. I was unable to hear many of the customers at my table and just sort of nodded when they spoke to me, pretending I could hear them. Somebody could have called me a fat A-hole and I would not have known it, probably would have just nodded in agreement.
By noon Sunday, I was ready to go home and sort of checked out mentally. I didn't know what was going on except that the bathrooms were exceptionally disgusting. What is with folks at card shows who never give you a courtesy flush when taking a smelly dump? Seems like most don't bother to flush at all. I love the guys who throw paper towels in the urinal. Come on now!
On the buying front -- nothing, nada, niets, nichts, niente. I had a few hustlers bring me cards asking far more than I could ever sell them for. I had one guy tell me he was selling cards for a "client." What? Who sells cards for a "client?" Does this guy have an office on Fifth Avenue in New York where he regular strikes deals to sell cards for his Wall Street clients? There was something so phony about this guy. At one point, he pulled some cards out of a something I can only describe as a purse. He spread the cards out on one of my display cases. I asked how much? He responded that he needed to contact his "client" first to see if he had permission to sell the cards. What? I must look like a real sucker to have guys like that regularly approach me.
I watched other dealers make some real nice buys. Tim went out Saturday night to meet someone, maybe a "client," and ended up buying a 1933 Goudey Ruth SGC 4. It was a beauty! Though, Tim did get hustled on Saturday when a guy offered him some cards that he was selling with and for his "father." I think the guy pulled an old man out of retirement home to use as a prop. The guy pulled a bait and switch on Tim. He showed Tim three 1960 Topps Mantles. Two of them had writing on the back. One was clean. Tim asked for a price on the clean Mantle. Paid. The guy switched the Mantle and gave Tim one with writing. The guy came back on Sunday. Tim confronted him and the guy did not blink an eye. Did not offer a refund or even a partial refund. Tim is such a nice guy and did not pursue it any further. I am glad he pointed that guy out to me so I can keep a look out in the future.
The show ended at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and Dave and I were on the road home at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Time. It was nice to gain an hour once we entered Illinois. We made it to Dave's house by 8 p.m. Central Time where I met his two beautiful granddaughters. What sweeties!! Dave also has a grandson on the way. Congrats buddy!
Well, if you haven't gotten enough of Dave and I at the Sports Spectacular and Strongsville, we invite you to see us along with 70 other dealers this Saturday, April 2, 2022, at the Salvation Army Community Center, 8853 S. Howell, in Oak Creek, WI. Should be the largest Sal show to date!! The hallway will be back open and I expect a packed house. Hope to see you there!!
If you can't make it to the Sal on Saturday, come see me Sunday at the Woodfield Hyatt in Schaumburg. Dave doesn't do that one but I'll be there bright eyed and bushy tailed. It is going to be a binder weekend after a few weeks of display cases. I should have the 1974 Topps baseball binder finally reloaded by Saturday.
A huge thank you to everyone who purchased cards from me in Strongsville. I am already geared up for the 2023 Strongsville show!
Below please enjoy some photos from the 2022 Strongsville show.
Sports Card Show Throwback - Strongsville, OH Vintage - Simpler Times for Card Collecting is Back! - YouTube