Interstate 65 in Indiana is the one sore point in the drive. That road is nothing short of a drag. You are either tailgated or stuck behind a truck going slow in the passing lane. It was a relief when I switched to I70 outside of Indianapolis. I began the drive at 3:30 p.m. and made it to Dayton around 8:30 p.m. I stopped at a Fairfield Inn for the night. The hotel was nice, clean, with a flat screen TV, fridge, microwave, coffee maker and complimentary shampoo. I had a good night's sleep.
I woke at 7 a.m., showered, loaded up the car, and dined on a couple hard boiled eggs at the hotel's free breakfast. Hey Fairfield Inn, would it kill ya to have some bacon or sausage in your lavish breakfast spread? Anyway, my GPS was off a bit and took me the wrong direction through Downtown Dayton, which I have to say is pretty cool looking. There are a lot of Victorian buildings and the area is real clean. I saw street car wires overhead but didn't see any street cars. Maybe they don't run on the weekends. I made it to the Nutter Center around 8:30 a.m. With it being my second time at the show, I knew exactly where to load in and parked right in front of the door leading to the show, unlike last fall when I drove around the Wright State University campus for 20 minutes trying to find the Nutter Center. The Nutter Center provides nice large carts so I was able to get all my stuff in there in one load. Promoter Dan Corley gave me the same spot I had back in the fall. I had three 6-foot tables to display my wares. The dealer next to me decided to make a long display going up the side between our tables. So essentially, customers looked at his stuff in the front then walked behind MY tables to look at the rest of his items. I was miffed and told him so. Those that follow my blog know that I've been victimized by theft in the past and try to avoid offering an easy opportunity for thieves to swipe stuff off my tables. The dealer didn't move his display and I had to cope with people walking behind my table all day long, including the numb-nut dealer. Figuring I would have problems, I put all my display cases on that side of my tables and kept them locked throughout the show. I didn't have any thefts but people were in my way when I needed to access my display cases.
Thankfully, the dealer on the other side of me was a real nice old guy with some great vintage cards. As soon as he learned that I was from Chicago, we started talking about the old Prohibition gangsters like Al Capone and Johnny Torrio. I'm a Chicago history buff and am well-read on the city's Prohibition era. There is also some gangster history in my family. I have a cousin whose best buddy was Baby Face Nelson. They were childhood pals and continued their friendship right up until Nelson's death in a shootout with the feds. My cousin supplied guns and automobiles to Nelson and the Dillinger gang. Some of the gangster history books called my cousin a thief. We called him Clarey. His actual name was Clarence. Shortly before the famous "Lady in Red" gave up Dillinger and the feds assassinated him, Dillinger and fellow bank-robber Homer Van Meter hid out at a warehouse Clarey owned on the near Northwest Side of Chicago. Needless to say, old J. Edgar Hoover made sure Clarey went to jail for hiding Dillinger and Van Meter. After his stint in prison, Clarey lived quietly in the old neighborhood up until he died of old age in 1969.
With a 130-year family history in Chicago, I have some good tales to tell but I'll save those for another blog (maybe I'll do one on how my old man hustled jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie into teaching him how to play the trumpet back in the early 1950s). Back at the show, things were slow going, unlike my prior visit to Dayton where I had some nice action at my tables. I hardly saw any of the folks I met back in October. I think I lost them to the weather, which was amazing, and to St. Patrick's Day activities. Though I did make some sales on this fine day. An older gentleman picked up some '65 Topps football tallboys and some '71 Topps baseball commons. A father and son duo pulled out quite a few '72s, including the father's favorite boyhood player, George Foster. He also bought my 1959 Topps Hank Aaron All Star. My pal TJ will be pleased to learn that a fellow member of the OBC (Old Baseball Cards) club, wearing that powder blue OBC baseball cap, spent a great deal of time at my table. The OBC member picked up some 1969 and 1953 Topps baseball commons. I met another guy who told me his son was in Chicago this weekend enjoying the city's St. Patrick's Day festivities. That guy picked up some '72 Topps baseball commons. There was a young guy I remembered from the fall and he picked up some '63 commons. Another guy bought some '72s which were real popular on this day.
On the buying front, not much doing. Only one guy offered me some cards. He had a box of stuff that was mostly late 1980s rookies like Randy Johnson and Ken Griffey Jr. Those cards are a dime a dozen and essentially worthless. The guy did have one T206 common. It was a beater: creased, worn, folded and frayed. He had it encased in one of those old thick screwdowns. I think T206 commons book at $60. In poor condition, I can sell them for $12 or $15. So I offered the guy $10. He immediately puts the card away and says the case is worth more as he stuffed it back in his box. Well, no, those screwdowns are worthless. Cards actually get destroyed in those things because the card will stick to the plastic and then tear when the case is unscrewed and opened. That's why the manufacturing of screwdowns ceased years ago. Regardless, I was up front with the guy. I told him the card books at $60 and isn't worth much when it is heavily creased, frayed and worn. Then he starts telling me about other stuff he has for sale. At this point, I'm not listening to a word he is saying. I'm just wondering why in the world he would think I would buy anything from him when he acted like an ass. He didn't have to take my offer but I think he should have kindly declined instead of pulling the card away and making a daft comment. I have two rules I follow when I buy cards. The first rule is that I never buy cards from assholes. I don't care if they have unbelievable deals, I won't ever buy cards from assholes. This is my hobby, I do it for fun. If someone is going to ruin my fun, there is no way in hell they're going to get some of my hard-earned cash, even if I could make a huge profit on the deal somewhere down the road. Some things like dignity are more valuable to me than any amount of money. Second rule, I don't buy anything that I can't sell for more than I paid for it. I don't have to get rich on the deal, I just have to make a little more than I paid for it. If I buy a card for $10 and sell it for $12, I'm happy.
So this guy is in clear violation of the rules. But I'm a nice guy and there is nobody else at my table, so I hear him out. He tells me he has a complete set of '61-62 Fleer basketball. I try to explain to him that I purchase cards for the sole purpose of reselling them at a profit. I'm honest and up front with him as I am with everyone. I'm not out to swindle anyone, that's not my idea of fun. Both parties need to feel good about the transaction. So the guy says he would sell me the cards at half book. Well, unless the cards are in absolute mint condition, I won't pay half book because I can't sell them at half book. I'd lose my shirt. Judging from the few vintage cards he showed me, I'm guessing his Fleers were in poor to fair condition, which means I would resell the cards at quarter book. So why in the world would I pay half book for his low grade cards and then sell them at a loss at quarter book? He didn't seem to get it. I find it amazing that Becket has been publishing this price guide for 34 years and people still see the high book number and think that's what they should be paid for their cards. They never seem to notice the lower number located directly next to the high number, which clearly is an indication that the price of a card is based on condition. Which means that when your cards are in the worst possible condition, you don't get to receive the highest possible price -- HELLO!! You can't tell these people anything because they're the experts. I'm probably over reacting but it's just that I've been selling cards during the entire 34-year period that the Beckett price guide has existed and I still have to regularly explain how the thing works. The folks at Beckett even explain this simple matter in their book. So my question for the great oracle at Delphi, the same oracle of knowledge where Socrates sought answers to the nagging dilemmas of virtue, is how can someone think they can get high book price for a card that has been stepped on and run through the washer? These are the things that keep me awake at night. Sad really, I know.
Anyway, I did make one purchase. I bought a soiled '72 Johnny Bench for a few bucks from a guy who happens to set up at all the Orland Park, Illinois, shows that I attend. I have known this guy for a while but didn't know he lives deep into Indiana, several hours from Orland and several hours from Dayton. Nice guy though and he always gives me good deals.
I know last time I blogged about this show, I talked about the promoter Dan, who is a tremendously nice guy. Dan told me that today's show marked his 20th anniversary of promoting this show in Dayton. He started promoting shows back in March 1992 and is still going strong. He did not charge a cover today. He gave everyone who came in a red ticket. He held drawings all day long for free giveaways. My old college roommate Sean Canty, who is from Dayton, stopped in to see me with his son Liam. Sean and Liam won some packs of cards in one of the drawings -- I thought that was pretty cool. Thanks Dan, and I also appreciate the free cans of pop. Dan also announced the attendance at the end of the show -- 141.
Prior to leaving Chicago for the Dayton show, my buddy Fred warned me that dealers have been smash and grab burglary victims after leaving shows in Ohio. I also recently read about a smash and grab of a dealer's car in Pennsylvania. Then after the show as I was about to leave, Dan warned me about smash and grabs as well. Several dealers at his shows have been hit. One guy was victimized four hours away in Kentucky. I was the last one to leave the show and as I was driving out I observed two guys hanging out in a red pick up truck. For the next three hours as I drove to Canton, I looked for that red pick-up or any suspicious vehicles. I didn't see any. Then when I checked into a Motel 6 in Canton, I saw a red pick-up truck circle the parking lot. I slept with one eye open that night. Luckily, no incidents to report. However, the next morning as I was checking my emails on my iPhone, I received an email from Dan, reporting that one of the vintage dealers was hit after the show. The dealer parked in front of his apartment in Dayton after the show and went inside. When he came out, someone had smashed a window on his car and taken all his cards and showcases. Dan also said that this was the seventh smash and grab theft after a Dayton/Cincinnati show since November. There is a serious problem in southern Ohio. Hopefully these scumbags slip up and get caught. A nice cold jail cell for a couple of decades is what they deserve.
I must admit that I'm a little reticent to return to southern Ohio for a show. Though I really like the Nutter Center show, even though sales were down and I had to deal with a couple of numb-nuts. Most people there are really nice and there is a tremendous inventory of modern and vintage cards in the room. It is a really good show. I think if I go back there, I'm going to have to take someone else with me. I think I'd be less of a target if I have another body for these slimeballs to contend with.
Anyway, my Canton blog is coming soon. Thanks for sitting through this unusually long-winded show report. Also, to all my Dayton peeps, thanks for the purchases, I greatly appreciate your business. Below are some photos from the show. The first two display cases are from the nice vintage dealer located on one side of my tables. The third photo is my tables. The first photo in the middle row is a display case from the modern card dealer set up across from me. The last three photos are some random shots of the room, including a Pete Rose jersey.