I had a really nice show. We were in the larger Mitchell Room so I was able to take a few extra tables for myself and ended up with five tables. I brought extra stuff along by filling my car floor to ceiling. It took me a while to set up. If you recall, I purchased a new display case in Holland, Michigan, in January. So I am up to 10 display cases -- all were out and filled with cards at the show. New items for this show were reloaded 1975 Topps baseball and 1975 Topps Minis. The Minis were a big hit on this day. Jason, Jeff and Tim all purchased some Minis. Jeff also picked up some 1953 Bowman Color -- one of the coolest post-War sets in my opinion. The 1953 Bowman Baseball has the best photography of any set of cards in history. I tried to find the name of the photographer but came up empty. This guy was an artist and captured amazing images of some of the greatest players to ever wear a major league uniform. I love the candid shot of Stan Musial, or the shot of his teammate Enos Slaughter where the angle makes his bat look like the size of a huge tree. Then there is the shot of Pee Wee Reese high in the air avoiding a player sliding into second and firing the ball to first. Just imagine what the quality of cards would have been from 1956 to 1988 if Topps had not purchased Bowman before the 1956 season. The Topps photographers were all amatuers when compared to the Bowman photographers. By the 1970s, the Topps cards looked atrocious. It is amazing to me that there is not one card showing Lou Brock stealing a base or Hank Aaron hitting a home run. There really should have been better photos of so many greats like Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Frank Robinson, Pete Rose and like. But I digress. Even though I think the 1953 Bowmans are some of the coolest cards ever produced, sales of '53 Bowmans run hot and cold. For the past year, sales have been hot and my inventory is low. I'm due to restock.
It was nice to see Jim on Saturday, he was missed at the Gonzaga show earlier in the month. He just purchased a cabin in the North Woods of Wisconsin and was up there fishing. Sales came in early and often on this extremely cold Saturday (the thermometer in my car read -9!). Jim purchased some 1955 Bowmans for his third set! A father and son team purchased some 1959 Topps baseball. An older gentleman purchased a 1965 Philadelphia Paul Hornung, a 1957 Topps Football Joe Perry, and a 1960 Topps baseball Gil Hodges. Another customer purchased a 1977 Topps Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a 1948 Leaf Boxing Max Schmeling. Oddly, this customer does not regularly attend Milwaukee shows and remembers me from the Sun-Times shows in Chicago.
A customer purchased a large pile of 1959 and 1960 Topps baseball for sets he is building. A customer dressed head to toe in hunting garb purchased a 1963 Topps Hank Aaron. Rich purchased my 1979 Topps Football James Lofton Rookie and a 1970-71 Topps basketball Lenny Wilkins. An autograph hound purchased some 1970s hockey cards to send out for signatures. Robin purchased some cards. Willie bought my 1971-72 Topps Rick Barry rookie. The day ended when I sold several cards to one of the hotel employees while I was packing up. I know I forgot to write down a few sales because I was busy all day, even after half the dealers went home, I was still making sales. We seemed to have an afternoon rush which brought a nice second wave of sales for all the dealers that stuck around. We ran an advertisement with the Milwaukee Journal on the Tuesday before the show which seemed to help attendance. I am going to run another ad before the April 4th show.
On the buying front, I picked up a group of 1922 American Caramel Baseball Cards. I'm planning on posting nine of them to eBay and the rest I'll price and bring out to a future show. I also picked up a nice group of 1957 Topps football. Overall, a really nice day for both selling and buying cards. I can't say how happy I am with the Smith & Gordon Show. It has turned out to be one of my most solid shows every month.
Right now, I'm planning for the smaller Rembrandt Room for the April 4th show and we're just about at capacity for dealer tables. If I can get an early commitment from more dealers, I'll bump it up to the Mitchell Room. The Mitchell Room is nearly double in price, so I need dealers to stick to their guns when they say they will set up.
I had trouble waking up again on Sunday morning, March 1, 2015, for the Schaumburg, Illinois, show. Though I still beat Luis and Eli to the show. I got a great laugh when Eli told me he went over to Rolling Meadows, thinking that was Fred's show. He went to the promoter Betty and asked where is Fred? She told him Fred is up the street.
I think the faulty weather forecast calling for six-inches of snow hurt our attendance on Sunday. It was actually a beautiful day. The sun was out, not a cloud in the sky. Having missed last month's Schaumburg show due to snow, I was expecting a much better crowd. We still had people at the show, just not what I expected. A big thank you to Randy, Derek, Andy and the others who purchased cards today. I ended up buying a group of stars from the 1950s to 1970s; a binder of 1970s football cards and a nice pile of 1957 Topps baseball cards. Willie and I went over to Moretti's after the show and had some pretty good burgers. Overall, a really pleasant weekend.
The only downer was when we heard Sunday morning that the Great Minnie Minoso had died. I can't believe my hometown of Chicago lost its two biggest baseball legends in a month's time. Just a few weeks ago, Ernie Banks died, now Minnie Minoso on Saturday.
As for as Ernie is concerned, I can't believe the media focus on the battle for his estate. I, for one, have no interest in his estate and/or the details of the battle. I will always remember Ernie Banks as the greatest post-War Cub and the greatest ambassador that baseball has ever known. I wish the media, for once, would report the news instead of celebrity gossip.
As for Minnie, when I think about the Chicago White Sox, the names that best represent the franchise for me are Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Billy Pierce and Minnie Minoso. I don't think that sports fans in general, outside of White Sox fans, realize just how good Minnie and the Sox were in the 1950s and 1960s. The Sox were right there with the Yankees every year. Minoso was one of the best and most consistent Sox players of that era. Here are a couple of Minoso stats from his Wiki page:
-- He was the first black player on the White Sox and hit a home run on the first pitch of his first at bat as member of the Sox in 1951;
-- He had a phenomenal rookie year batting .324, second in the league behind Ferris Fain's .344;
-- He was robbed of the 1951 rookie of the year honors due to New York bias because Minnie had better stats in every category than ROY winner Gil McDougald;
-- He batted over .300 eight times;
-- From 1950 to 1960, only Willie Mays had more stolen bases than Minnie Minoso;
-- He lead the AL in triples and stolen bases three times;
-- He had one season where he lead the AL in hits, doubles and total bases;
-- In addition to speed, he could hit for power and was one of the most prolific home run hitters in White Sox history;
-- He was also a great fielder, earning three gold gloves in his career;
-- Seven-time All-Star.
Minnie left Major League Baseball to play and manage in the Mexican leagues just before I was born. I first heard of Minnie Minoso as a 10-year old kid who watched a lot of White Sox games on the old Channel 44 in Chicago with one of the best broadcast teams in the history of the game -- Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall. The Sox hired Minnie as a coach that year. I still remember the shock and awe when this old guy with a funny name came to the plate in a few games in 1976 and became the oldest player in major league history to get a hit. Topps commemorated the hit in a card in the 1977 set. Minnie again took some swings in 1980 in a game. He ended up setting the record for batting in five different decades. Minnie got his first at bats in the late 1940s while a member of the Cleveland Indians. He wanted to step in there again in the 1990s but current Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf wouldn't let him do it. It is a shame we no longer had Bill Veeck who would have certainly allowed Minnie to take same swings in every decade. Though, kudos to Reinsdorf for retiring Minnie's uniform number 9 and for erecting a statue of Minnie at the ballpark.
As a kid, I mostly learned about Minnie Minoso by purchasing his baseball cards and reading the backs. I was able to attend one of the old Hillside Holiday Inn shows in the late 1970s where Minnie Minoso was signing autographs for free. I scoured the room for Minoso cards to get signed. I was able to purchase his 1952 Topps rookie card for a song because cards didn't cost much at all back then, no matter who the player was. I had Minnie sign the '52 Topps card which was in my possession until I enrolled in law school and sold most of my autograph collection to pay for books.
The coolest thing about Minnie was that he was always around and always friendly. Oddly, I mostly ran into him at Sluggers over by Wrigley Field. In the 1990s, his big old Cadillac, with the vanity license plate that read "MINNIE," was parked in front of Sluggers on Clark Street most every Saturday night. I once saw is son, Orestes Junior, outside of a game and mistook him for a player and got his autograph. Junior was real nice and told me he wasn't a major league player but did play some minor league ball.
For me, Minnie Minoso was a living legend and I appreciated what he accomplished on the field and that he was always such I nice person who was always accessible. It is going to be weird not seeing that Cadillac around town. RIP Minnie.