Sunday, October 21, 2018, Civic Center, Orland Park, IL
So I have a limited memory of this show. I have been setting up at Orland Park for 20 years or so and they really all blend in together at this point. I started to take some notes early on but was distracted by the thief. I do remember that I was very busy at this show and the thief came to my table four or five times. I struggled to keep an eye on him. I think at one point I enlisted Will to shadow him. But alas, he got me. He kept looking at my 1953 Bowman football. Every time he left, I checked the binder to make sure the cards were still there. The last time he was at my table I was at the far corner helping a customer while the '53 Bowman binder was at the opposite end of the table. The thief held up some pages in the binder so I could not see what he was doing from where I was standing. I was unable to go over to him because I had a display case open and was showing high-end cards to a customer.
After the thief left, I was able to check the binder and saw that a bunch of cards were gone. I also looked for the thief and he was long gone. @#$%&!!! He got me. I probably lost $30 or so in cards.
Thankfully, I had an excellent day selling cards and had a good time hanging with all the regulars, so I was able to put the theft out of my mind. I know I bought a bunch of stuff at the show but cannot remember exactly what I purchased.
Before the thief distracted me from taking notes, I jotted down a handful of sales. My main man Paul purchased some 1969-70 Topps hockey. A regular customer purchased a 1964 Topps Duke Snider and also pulled some cards from my Dollar Box.
Then there was this guy I have seen at all the Chicago-area card shows for years. He always asks me whether I have any 1970 Fleer World Series cards. In the past, I have always told him that I did not have any but he should keep checking with me. So, for the past two decades, he has diligently checked in with me to see whether I had any of those '70 Fleers. Well, just before this show, I finally put together a group of them and placed them in one of my odd-ball binders. I can't tell you how awesome it was to finally tell him I had the '70 Fleers. Oddly enough, he approached my table and didn't ask for the cards. Did he really give up after all these years? I stopped him and showed him the cards. In my head, I heard marching band music as I finally informed him that I obtained some of the cards and showed him the binder. He was pleased and purchased a bunch of them. Unlike most cards on my tables, I don't have a backstock of the '70 Fleers. I wonder if he will keep asking me for them? I do not know when I will obtain any more of them. They are not particularly valuable but you just don't see them at shows. I could probably find them online but I do very little online shopping. I find it too time consuming and frustrating. Most of my buying is done at shows with dealers and customers bringing me cards to purchase. At least I finally had the cards for this collector!
On a completely different note, I am saddened to report the passing of some amazing Midwest dealers. Indianapolis vintage dealer Wayne Johnson died on December 19, 2018. I first observed the mentioning of Wayne's death on Net54, a day or two after he died. I did not believe the report because I just saw Wayne in November at the Sun-Times show and we had a nice conversation about 1966 Topps baseball high numbers. As the days went on, I saw more and more chatter online of Wayne's death. Sadly, it was true.
I have known Wayne for a long time. Along with the Sun-Times show. I regularly ran into him at other shows in Indiana, Ohio, and the Pittsburgh show. He was always a warm and friendly face behind a phenomenal display of vintage cards. Wayne was one of those dealers that only has high-grade cards on his tables. His set up was always beautiful.
Some years ago, I oftened trucked down to Indianapolis for the monthly show at the La Quinta Inn. Wayne always had the back tables in the room. Many times I was fortunate enough to be set up next to him and really enjoyed his company. He was extremely intelligent and an incredibly knowledgeable sports card dealer. His stock was superior to anyone else at that La Quinta show. I was impressed that he even bothered to set up there. I am sure there were many shows where he did not make much in sales because it is tough to sell high-end expensive cards at small shows. But I learned that he didn't set up at that show to make money. Instead, he was there to support the young promoter which I thought was incredibly cool. They don't make too many like Wayne Johnson. My sincere condolences to his family and many, many friends.
Once again I learned of the passing of another dealer on Net54. Paul Fusco died on January 6, 2019. We had been emailing each other in December regarding the show he promotes -- the Ohio Sports Collectors Convention. Again, I was shocked to learn of his passing. Paul was so full of life and a character to boot. I always saw him at the National and at his show in Strongsville, Ohio, where I have been setting up these past few years. When I first asked for dealer space at his Strongsville show, he responded that I had to prove to him that I was a vintage dealer. He hated modern cards and his Strongsville show is vintage only.
Thanks to this website, it was fairly simple to show him that I am a vintage dealer. Like Paul, I do not have any interest in modern cards. Next to the National, Paul's show is the best one around. It is just so awesome to be in a large room filled with vintage cards and memorabilia.
When I would see Paul at the National, he was soft spoken and mellow. Very friendly. At his Strongsville show, he was very animated. He would inspect all the dealer tables to see if anyone was displaying modern cards. If he viewed modern cards on a table, he would demand that the dealer remove them. I found it so entertaining. One time, after I watched him berate a dealer to having modern cards on his table, he come over to me and stated that he hated modern cards and called them a "cancer." I loved it, he was a show within the show.
Man, I am going to miss Paul Fusco. He treated me so well and I absolutely loved his Strongsville show. My condolences to his family and many, many friends.
Shows just are not going to be the same without Wayne and Paul. The passing of these guys has left a huge void in the hobby. I was lucky to have known them.
I just learned, again on Net54, that the man I consider as the grandfather of card shows in the Chicago area, Bruce Paynter, died on January 20, 2019. I am so sorry to hear of Bruce's passing. Any time I hear the name Bruce Paynter, I am pulled back into my childhood. A flood of great memories, some of which I'll share here.
My golden era of collecting was from 1975 to 1980, about age 8 through 14. When I was a lad, I discovered baseball cards in an aisle at the pharmacy blocks from my house. In those days, most neighborhoods in the Chicago area had a pharmacy before places like Walgreens moved in and put them out of business. The pharmacy in my neighborhood was an awesome place. Seems like as soon as I could walk, I would walk the few blocks from my house and purchase bags of candy. Eventually I started buying Wacky Packages and other decals that came with sticks of gum.
It was in 1975 that I bought my first pack of baseball cards. The wax pack cost 15 cents. I spent a ton of time in the candy aisle of the pharmacy that summer of 1975. I remember that I constantly pestered my mother for 15 cents.
This was also pre-strip mall days. The pharmacy was a stand alone building. On one side was a gas station on the other side was a house. Next to the house was a place called Convenient Food Mart. The Convenient was a mini-general store. We didn't have a grocery store in my neighborhood and my mother often dragged me to the Convenient to pick up this or that. Well, that summer of '75, I discovered that the Convenient sold cello packs and rack packs, which were not available in the pharmacy. The cello packs cost a quarter while the rack packs were 50 cents.
I was amazed at the cello packs because they contained more cards than the wax packs and you could see the top and bottom card. Naturally, I searched for Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and local heroes Dick Allen and Bill Madlock. The problem was that the Convenient was run by this mean old couple. Any time I picked up a cello pack or started looking over a rack pack, they screamed bloody murder. If I was there by myself, they would kick me out of the store. When I was with my mother, I could hand her a pack while they screamed at me. So I wasn't ever really able to search the packs like I wanted.
I blame that crochety old couple for my inability to obtain a Jim Willoughby card in 1975. I also seemed to pull hundreds of Larry Christainson minis. I hated pulling minis. I wanted the regular size cards to complete my set. Oh, and there are always some know-it-alls at the card shows who tell me minis were not available in Chicago in 1975. What? I pulled tons of them. Yes they were here in Chicago!
Another great thing about collecting cards in 1975 was that every freakin' kid in the neighborhood and every freakin' kid in school collected cards. So there was a lot of trading going on. Nobody had Jim Willoughby!!!
I think it was in 1978 that I discovered Sports Collectors Digest which at the time was absolutely amazing. It must have been 100 -pages thick back then. I think it was in SCD where I learned about the Chicago Sports Collectors Association. Though, my memory is a little hazy. I may have learned about CSCA from my friend Chuck's dad, who was a sports card dealer.
As an aside, Chuck's dad Jeff was a complete dick. He held several garage sales in the summer where he just sold cards. I bought tons of cards from him. In the summer of 1980, I was about 12 cards away from completing the set. I purchased tons of cards that summer but there were those 12 that alluded me. I went over the Chuck's house to see of Jeff had the 12 cards. He took me down into his basement where there were hundreds of thousands of cards all boxed and shelved. It took him an hour or so to find the 12 cards to complete my set. The whole time he bitched at me and told me to never do this again. First of all, I was 14, he was a grown man and a sports card dealer! Why wouldn't I ask him for the cards? Well, I never purchased any cards from Jeff after that.
Now it may have been Jeff who hooked me up with the CSCA because he was a dealer at the three shows Bruce Paynter and his CSCA put on every year in the late 1970's. I just can't remember.
Anyway, I joined the CSCA in either 1978 or 1979. Bruce Paynter was the president. He sent me an ID card showing that I was a member. I also received regular news letters from him.
Getting to those three yearly CSCA shows held at the Hillside Holiday Inn was difficult because I was too young to drive and my pops thought spending money on baseball cards was a waste. So I had to beg and beg to be driven to Bruce Paynter's shows. Often my dad would drop me off in the morning, go to work, come back and get me at the end of the show. Sometimes he stayed with me at the show which sucked for me because he didn't want to stick around. After he would make me leave, he took me to work with him at his office in Downtown Chicago where I would be stuck until the evening. I would sit in a room and just stare at the cards I purchased for hours.
But those days that he dropped me off were some of the best I can remember. It seemed like a lot of parents dropped off their kids at the shows and left us there all day long. I made a ton of new friends at Bruce Paynter's shows. Kids that lived in different suburbs and went to different schools. We would meet up at each of Bruce's shows and trade amongst ourselves. Some guys sold stuff. I remember one kid had a box of cards signed by Joe DiMaggio. He wanted just 10 bucks for one. I forked over 10 bucks when I only had 20 to spend for the day. I remember regretting spending the 10 bucks on the DiMaggio autograph. The more I thought about it, I wondered how this kid had a box full of DiMaggio autographs. He told me DiMaggio was a family friend. I felt like I had been duped. It was not until recently that I learned that the DiMaggio autograph was real! I finally had it authenticated at one of the Nationals a few years back. I wish I could find that kid again!
Anyway, being a member of the CSCA and going to those Hillside Holiday Inn shows fostered my love of vintage cards that 40-some years later still rings true. I really owe it to Bruce Paynter and am so sad to learn of his passing. RIP.
On a lighter note, my first show at the Salvation Army Community Center, 8853 S. Howell, in Oak Creek, WI, is slated from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, February 2. 2019. I have had a tremendous response from dealers thus far with 22 planning on setting up. This may be the most dealers I have ever had and we are still two weeks away... more may sign up. I am stoked for this show!! I'll try and post another blog sooner than later. Cheers!