This was my first visit to Fort Wayne. I found the show through its listing in Beckett. I looked on a map and thought the drive would not be too bad -- all the while knowing absolutely nothing about this town. As I pulled into Fort Wayne, my first observations were that It appeared to be a decent size burg. Here are a few tidbits I just learned about Fort Wayne... Apparently, Fort Wayne is a short distance from both the Ohio and Michigan borders. The population is a little more than 250,000. The area was the original home of the Miami indian tribe. The U.S. government built a fort near the indian village in 1794. Located near several rivers, Fort Wayne became a successful trading post and an actual town was laid out in 1823. The town grew after the completion and the Wabash and Erie canals then boomed when the railroads came through. These days, the main industry in Fort Wayne is defense manufacturing. Wikipedia lists all sorts of notable people that came from Fort Wayne. The only names on the list that I recognize are NFL Hall of Famer Rod Woodson and actor Dick York -- the original Darrin from the television show Bewitched. Charlton Heston's character in Planet of the Apes supposedly came from Fort Wayne but that is a fictitious character and does not count. Either way, Fort Wayne looks like an interesting place that I may have to explore on future visits.
The Hotel Fort Wayne is huge. I figured the card show was located in the back of the hotel through the doors labeled "Conference Center." I walked in on some sort of high school jamboree. I'm not sure what that was all about but hundreds of kids were in formal dress. I got back into my car and drove to the lobby. The card show was adjacent to the lobby. The room is about the size of the Elgin show and packed tight. The promoter is Brian Mayne, a super nice guy. Brian explained that he usually has an additional room but it was unavailable this month. Thus, I was only able to reserve one table. Load in was a little tough because the aisles were really small. But I did not bring a lot of stuff, so set up was fairly simple.
I saw a friendly face in Seth Murray, who set up a few months ago at the Smith and Gordon Show. Then I saw the unfriendly face of the guy who set up next to me at the Holland show. I think that guy wears a permanent frown. The young guy with the neck beard and pierced ears set up behind me was also little touchy. As I was setting up, Seth attempted to buy some cards from the guy. Seth pulled a pile and asked for a price then offered $20. The guy bit Seth's head off and accused him of low balling him and "kicking me in the teeth." It was weird. Seth was just asking him for a price and threw out a number. There was absolutely no reason for Neckbeard to get upset. Buying and selling baseball cards is anything but a life and death situation, there is never a need to get offended when someone makes an offer on your cards. The proper thing to do is to make a counter offer. Getting all ruffled defeats the whole purpose of renting a table -- which is to sell cards! You can't sell any cards if you're going to bite someone's head off when they make an offer on some cards. I don't think Neckbeard sold a whole lot of cards. He also annoyed me most of the day by constantly telling people that he was "living the dream." Really?
Frownguy and Neckbeard aside, I could not have had a more pleasant day. The other dealers and all the customers were so incredibly friendly. I spent a lot of time chatting with pre-War dealer Tim Kindler. Tim was wearing his Net54 T-shirt. Net54 is a pre-War website/forum where vintage sports card geeks such as myself spend quite a lot of time. Tim had a real nice display. He is a school teacher and works on roofing jobs in his spare time. With some left over materials from his latest roofing job, he built an awesome display, pictured above. He played it off as no big deal but for someone like myself who can't hammer a nail, it was pretty impressive.
Also impressive were the cards Tim had placed In that display -- all sorts of "E" cards which I never see at a small show. The E cards are small, slim cards, pre- World War I, similar to the T cards. The distinguishing factor of the E cards is that the E's were distributed in candy while the T's were distributed in tobacco. All the vintage cards received these wonderful letter designation decades ago by the father of baseball card collecting Jefferson Burdick. I pick up the candy cards occasionally. I like them and think they are incredibly cool. They are something I plan on getting more of down the road. For now, I would rather purchase a T card because they are more popular and easier to sell. Tim claims to have the only master set in existence of the E98s. The E98s were distributed in 1910 and consist of 30 cards including many hall of famers like Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner. The E98s made national news in 2012 when an absolutely pristine group was found in an attic in Defiance, Ohio -- known as the "Black Swamp Find."
Tim had photo copies of his set neatly placed in a three-ring binder. It was fun to flip through. It was also a real pleasure to chat with someone so friendly and knowledgeable on the E cards. You just don't see someone with Tim's pre-World War I inventory and knowledge at a small show. Some of Tim's E98s can be seen in the photo above on the top line far right. Pictured below are some 1933 Goudeys from Tim's table at the show.
In addition to the binders, I sold stuff out of my display cases. There was one young couple that bought quite a few cards including a 1935 Diamond Star Mickey Cochrane. They were a bit unusual in that they would come to my table together, the husband would examine cards then they would walk away. The wife would come back later alone and negotiate a deal with me for the cards. I was impressed with the wife's negotiation skills and that she seemed to be truly interested in the cards. Actually, quite a few guys seemed to have their wives along. I don't normally see the better half of most card collectors at these shows. My wife won't go to a card show. Even Mr. Frown brought his wife along. Early in the morning, she was sitting at an empty table wearing, surprise, a frown. Mr. Frown asked her: "You wanna see the most popular card on eBay?" She responded, "No, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever." Later, she pulled out a book and seemed quite content as long as Mr. Frown did not attempt to discuss cards with her.
On the buying front, I picked up a few Sporting News magazines from the 1960s. There are three from the 1960s, each with Sandy Koufax on the cover. I picked up a fourth from 1974 with Tommy John on the cover. If anyone is interested in them, I am looking to get just $12 for all four magazines. Just let me know.
Then a guy came to my table with his childhood collection from the early 1970s. I asked him what he wanted for them and he said I had to make an offer. it always turns out badly when I am required to make an offer, especially to someone who knows nothing about cards. How do I know he knows nothing about cards? Easy, he had most of his collection tightly wound in rubber bands. Rubber bands are to cards as Kryptonite is to Superman. Rubber bands kill cards and destroys any value because they leave marks on the surface and crush the edges. The value of sports cards is based on the player, the year, the availability of the card, and more than anything else -- condition. So the shoebox this guy was carrying of low grade cards had very little if any value. He just ruined them with those rubber bands. I figured I would offer $25 for the shoebox. He also had some 1971 to 1973 stars and semi-stars in a binder. Condition was mostly VG. I figured I could sell the binder for $150 to $200 and decided to offer $100 on the binder. In total, I offered $125 for all the cards. He said my offer was way off. He did not say how much he wanted for the cards but did tell me that he looked up the value. The problem when someone who knows nothing about cards looks up the value, is that they see the price for Mint Condition cards as the value for their off-grade cards. I tried to explain to him that his cards were not worth the Mint price because of the condition. Like so many that have appeared at my table in the past, he did not believe me and walked away. I watched him offer his cards to every dealer in the room. No takers. He went home with them. You can't get Mint prices for low grade cards in the real world. In addition, cards from the 1970s are plentiful. I just won't pay a lot for them because I can pick them up reasonably at most every show I attend. If this guy had, say, 1952 Topps in off grade, I probably would have offered more money. I am willing to pay a higher percentage for older cards because they are more difficult to obtain.
Overall, I thought there was some good stuff in the room. Several dealers had vintage cards. The prices were a little bit too high for me to buy for resale. There was also a large amount of modern cards, wax and supplies. One dealer had a nice amount of vintage non-sports cards. This is a pretty good show. I can't wait to come back next month when I'll have more table space. It will be nice to put out my binders from the 1950s and 1960s. I was out the door by 2 p.m. I pulled out a map and observed that Route 30 goes from Fort Wayne all the way to Illinois. I figured if I take Route 30, I'll avoid all the traffic and crazy drivers on I80/90. Bad move on my part. Once I hit Merrillville, Route 30 was a parking lot. It took an hour to get into Illinois from Merrillville when it should have taken no more than 15 minutes. I won't make that mistake again. As much as I hate the I80/90 tie up at the Indiana-Illinois border, that Route 30 does not move at all.
Once home, I finished up my 1974 Topps football binder and priced a bunch of cards for my display cases. My throat started to hurt and I was worried I was getting sick. I took some Nyquil and went to bed around 10 p.m. I was up at 5 a.m. for the Gonzaga show on Sunday, January 18, 2015. I was a little woozy from the Nyquil and kind of felt out of it all day. It was tough driving up to Milwaukee. I got to the show early because of the Packer-Seahawks game. I thought the game would keep people away but we had a real nice crowd.
All the usual suspects were there today and bought cards like Mark, Jim, both Jasons, Jeff, Eric, Rob and the others. Thanks guys! I sold a few cards out of my newly reloaded 1951 Topps Red Backs binder. I also sold a few cards out of the recently reloaded 1973 and 1974 Topps football binders. One customer found the last two cards he needed to complete his 1980 Topps baseball set at my table. Another customer purchased my entire 1976 Topps baseball binder -- that's three full binders sold this weekend! A lot of other guys went through all of my binders. I even had a guy buy a bunch of hockey cards which is a rarity at this show. Overall sales were good but not quite as high as the December show.
On the buying front, I picked up a smattering of 1941 Play Ball including Carl Hubbell, Mel Ott and Joe Cronin. I also purchased a 1958 Topps Willie Mays.
At the concession stand, I had green cake in honor of the Packers. I also had some delicious sloppy Joe.
I had that Nyquil haze going and was a little out of it all day. I was the last one to leave the room as usual. I appreciate Keith's patience because he had to wait for me to leave before he could go home. I listened to the first quarter of the Packer game on the radio as I drove home. I thought the game would have thinned out traffic but no such luck. What a weird game. Seattle kept turning over the ball. The Packers should have had 21 points in the first quarter but the Seahawks defense kept them to 6. it seemed like the Packers outplayed the Seahawks for most of the game. Somehow, Seattle tied it up and won in overtime. It all happened so quick. My take on this game is that Pete Carroll is a hell of a coach. I have a lot of respect for Mike McCarthy. I think he is a tremendous coach but clearly the better coach on this day was Carroll. I also think that if Aaron Rodgers was in better health, the Packers would have put more points on the board and Seattle would have been out of the discussion.
Later, I watched the AFC game and was surprised the Patriots blew out the Colts. I thought it would have been a much closer game. I don't know what to expect from this Super Bowl. I think Brady is the better quarterback. Seattle's Marshawn Lynch is a beast. I don't see how New England is going to contain Lynch. I also expect Russell Wilson to have a much better game. Those factors plus an awesome defense gives Seattle the edge in my book. Though, I would not be surprised if the Patriots pull it out because Tom Brady is clearly one of the all-time great quarterbacks, my fellow Arizona alum Gronk is a beast, and Bill Belichick is easy to hate but is a tremendous coach. Either way, I think this will be a good Super Bowl to watch.
Back to the card show business. Next week, I'm on the road again. I'm setting up in Indianapolis on Saturday and Cincinnati on Sunday. I hope the weather cooperates. This should be fun! If any followers of my blog are in the Indy or Cincy areas, please come on out and see me this weekend. Thanks!