Sometimes my alarm clock is pure pain. This was one of those painful mornings. I hit snooze but knew I could not dose off again. I needed to get ready for the show.
I don't know about you, but I cannot start my day until I have that morning grump. It took a while to loosen things up and my morning procedure took longer than expected. We were hoping to leave the house by 8:30 a.m. at the latest. I think I was on the road around 8:50 a.m. I had wanted to rearrange the cards in my display cases before the customers started to arrive. No such luck.
When I exited the highway onto River Road South, there was a line of cars stopped in the turn lane for the parking garage. I did a U-ee and headed north to the CTA lot. I am pretty sure Rosemont has traffic light cameras and I am expecting a ticket to show up in the mail for that U-ee. The CTA lot was easy-peasy. I am parking there the rest of the week.
I think I got into the show minutes before the doors opened to the public. Many dealer tables were still covered. I tried to rearrange the cards in my display cases but it was difficult as people were on top of me almost immediately.
People. That was the theme for Thursday. Lot's of people. Man, lot's of people. I have been attending the National since 1993 and I have never seen such a crowd. The place was packed... and hot, again. Ugh! Though, this time there were pockets in the building that were well air-conditioned but not Booth 1070 next to the shuttered concession stand featuring a temporary bar.
I think I may have been too quick to send my brother Jon away because I was busy all day long. Sales were fast, furious and frequent. Yesterday became a distant memory. Unlike Nationals in the past, most every customer was beating me up on price. The problem is that I have been spending a TON of time on eBay the last several months and have my cards priced exactly at the rate the cards are actually selling for on eBay. So every and any discount is a loss of money for me. I could have stayed home, placed the cards on eBay and made more money.
Yet, I was appreciative of all the sales after such a lousy day on Wednesday. I am not even sure what I sold, it was so much. I think I sold all of my slabbed T206's. Tommy, who has the best collection/inventory out of anybody I know or have ever met, purchased one. Thanks Tommy.
A guy from Detroit purchased my 1933 Goudey Mickey Cochrane. He was so happy I knocked a few bucks off my listed price that he came back at the end of the show to thank me again. A guy from Alabama purchased my 1941 Play Ball Hank Greenberg. Another guy from Alabama purchased my 1933 Goudey slabbed Joe Sewell. I learned on Wednesday from another Alabamian that Sewell was a member of the Crimson Tide and there is a field named in his honor.
I sold some 1935 Goudeys to a Reds fan. A handful of OBC guys came around and purchased some cards including some 1938 Goudeys. I am surprised the OBC guys have not discovered my Oak Creek Show because there is a ton of reasonably priced vintage at that show.
I sold a bunch of Minnie Minoso cards, including a 1952 Bowman rookie, to a guy wearing an Alabama shirt. Lot's of Alabama guys at the show on Thursday. Scott purchased my 1955 Bowman Elston Howard. Another guy purchased my 1954 Topps Ted Williams. A young guy purchased my 1954 Topps Billy Martin. George and Christy came down from Wisconsin and purchased some cards. Thanks guys!
Andy was in town from Orlando and purchased a bunch of cards. Thanks Andy! I sold my PSA 4 1966 Mantle to a random guy. Nice sale! My "intern" Paul helped me sell a bunch of cards to a young guy. Paul the Intern also watched my table so I could get some food at the Esoterica. Only four or five things on the menu. Craig from Milwaukee recommended the chicken tenders and I took his advice and found them surprisingly tasty.
On Wednesday I was too tired, too hot, too disappointed to break out any cards I was storing away during the show. On Thursday, however, I was in a much better mood and pulled out a bunch of cards for guys. One guy needed just a Banks and a John Matlock to complete his '71 set. I had the Banks. Another guy needed a '71 Brewers team and he was happy I found one buried in a box. I dug deep for other stuff guys needed but came up empty a few times.
So many guys looking for specific cards or specific oddball sets. I did not have a lot of the stuff they wanted. As good as I might think my inventory is, there are always cards I do not have but I appreciate all the guys stopping by to check in with me. It is always fun to chat with collectors from all over the country. I like hearing all of the different accents. Whenever I hear a New York accent I immediately think of Howard Cosell. It does not matter what these New York folks look like, my crazy brain is transferring Howard Cosell's head to theirs and we're talking about the Thrilla in Manila.
All these guys had tales to tell. I love hearing the stories, learning about their collections and their collecting adventures. Did I say I love the National? This is where my people are!
On the buying front, all sorts of stuff came to my table on Thursday. One guy had a bunch of Venezuelan cards. I have never had any Venezuelan cards. I know they are hard to come by and valuable. However, I had no idea as to what to offer or what I would sell them for so I passed -- a mistake, I should have bought some of the cards.
Another guy had a small box of pretty good cards but the condition was way bad. He wanted half book. I can't sell creased and worn out cards for half book. I offered 25% of book. He thanked me and walked away. There is no way any dealer in the building is going to over pay for those beaters.
Then there was a guy who showed up with a gym bag. He pulled out a ball with a Mickey Mantle signature and a Roger Maris signature. I thought it odd that the signatures were in ball point pen on a new ball. I should have checked which baseball commissioner was on the ball. The more I think about it, it was probably Rob Manfred the current commissioner which would be a sure sign the sigs were fake, as Mantle and Maris died long before Manfred became commissioner. I also found it odd that both signatures were on the sides of the ball and neither was in the sweet spot. Another oddity was that the style of the sigs were similar. I have a few Mantle sigs and used to have a Maris, these sigs were unlike my Mantles or my Maris.
My suspicions that this guy was pushing fakes were confirmed when he pulled out three slabs by an outfit called "SBA" featuring a 1952 Topps Mantle, a 1951 Bowman Mantle and a 1933 Goudey Ruth. It took just a millisecond for me to blurt "These cards are fakes."
"What about the Ruth?" he asked.
"Fake," I replied.
He grabbed his fakes in a huff, stuffed them back into his gym bag and stormed off.
I don't need to even talk about these cards because they were so incredibly obvious. I'm guessing he used old PSA slabs and printed out his own "SBA" labels on his home printer. Really amature stuff. As he stormed off, I started to think what kind of guy brings obvious fake vintage cards to a vintage card expert, moreover, brings fake cards into the largest gathering of vintage card experts in the world?
I think I have said this before... I have represented many clients over the years in criminal court and the one thing they ALL share in common is that they are ALL stupid as can be. Just once I would like to meet a criminal with a semblance of intelligence, maybe like the Penguin or the Joker, not the utter dumb-ass failure who brought me the fake slabs.
A couple of examples of some of my former clients. I once represented two ladies who filled up their grocery carts with food at a grocery store and walked out and began loading the unpaid grocery items into their car. I am not sure why they were surprised when they were arrested. I tried to explain to them that they cannot leave the store with the items until they have paid for them.
Another client had recently turned 21, bought beer for his underage buddies, drove around Chicago drinking the beer in the car and was surprised when police lights appeared in his rearview mirror. To top it off, he did not pull over and lead the police on a 10 mile chase... while driving just 20 miles an hour! It turned into a scene from the "Blues Brothers" with my guy leading a dozen or so Chicago cop cars down a busy city street at just 20 MPH. I tried to explain to the judge that my client is not a criminal, just stupid. The judge didn't buy it.
I was able to get probation for the two ladies but Elwood Blues had to spend the weekend in jail. I think Fake Slab Guy is looking for some jail time.
Speaking of jail, my boothmate Dave thought he saw Bill Mastro at the show. I thought I read that as part of Mastro's sentence for criminal fraud, he could no longer participate in the sports card hobby? Mastro might be the exception to my stupid criminal rule. I don't think Mastro is a dummy, just greedy. I guess greed as well as stupidity plays into a lot of criminal enterprises.
I turned down some free tickets to see James Taylor and Jackson Brown, I was just too tired after the show and went home with a pile of cash. What a great day!
So I had a chance to walk around a little bit on Thursday. Pictured above are the crowds at the autograph pavilion. Something like 125 athletes signed autographs during the show.