Much better day this month -- no thefts! We were hit hard by thieves last month... so hard that I hired an off-duty police officer to patrol the show. The police officer has agreed to patrol all of our future shows. The officer introduced himself to the dealers and offered advice on how to protect themselves from theft.
We had 465 people through the door on this sunny fall day. Thank you so much for attending the show! I find this a remarkable number considering the nice weather and college football. All the other shows I attend have seen large reduction in attendance the past month or so while we are still rocking it in Oak Creek.
Prior to the show, I overbooked it by accident by 10 tables. Luckily, the week before the show I had six or seven guys drop out. Normally, I would be aggravated at the guys cancelling on short notice but I was thankful this time around. I would not have been able to fit in 140 tables. End count was between 125 to 130 tables as I had several no shows as well. One dealer no showed me for a second time -- he's out. Dealers, if you book the show, you have a responsibility to show up or pay me for your table, otherwise you are out. I still have a huge waiting list, so I have the luxury of kicking guys out.
Actually, I hope to clear off my waiting list next month as I purchased the Chapel and think I can fit an additional 40 tables in there. I have a lot of work ahead of me contacting dealers on the waiting list.
Anyway, I arrived at the Sal around 6 a.m. Thankfully, my wife Lisa agreed to accompany me and help out. She was shocked at what set up entails. I literally sprint into the building and run for an hour so rearranging tables and placing nameplates on all of the dealer tables. Lisa was a huge help moving tables and placing out chairs in the Game Room and Hallway where the dealers who bring their own tables are located. We finished setting up around 7:30 a.m. and I let all the dealers in. Thankfully no dealers entered the building early, like last month.
I placed myself in the front hallway and set up my booth while dealers stopped by to pay me. Earlier, I placed a newsletter on all the dealer tables requesting payment first thing. It is much too time consuming to stop at all of the dealer tables to collect table fee.
I had just finished setting up my table when the day's autograph guest Bill Sharp arrived. I think you have to be in your mid-fifties and older to remember Bill Sharp. He was an outfielder for the White Sox from 1973 to 1975, then traded to the Brewers for the 1976 season. He had a career-ending knee injury with the Brewers.
My first year collecting baseball cards was 1975 and I was a White Sox fan living in suburban Chicago. So I taped all of my 1975 Topps White Sox cards to my bedroom wall, including Bill Sharp. When Bill walked into the show around 9 a.m., I felt like a kid again with my baseball cards coming alive.
I set up Bill near the entrance to the Game Room. He gave me all of his cards as a gift. I was so thankful because I forgot to pull his cards from my archives prior to the show. He signed my favorite, the 1975 Topps card.
Bill Sharp is an absolute joy. He was so friendly and so happy to be at the show. I had planned prior to the show to ask about what it was like to play with Dick Allen, Robin Yount and Hank Aaron.
Despite his reputation, Bill said Dick Allen was a really nice guy and a great teammate. Bill said he was in awe of Allen's skill. He said Allen rarely took batting practice. Bill remembered one day where he and some of the other younger players where at the ballpark early taking batting practice. It was a hot day well before game time so Bill and the others were wearing shorts and T-shirts. Bill said they were all surprised when Allen came out in his full White Sox wool uniform and smoked ball after ball into the bleacher seats. Bill said Allen used a heavy bat and it was amazing to watch how he swung that bat like it was light as a feather and hit homer after homer. Bill said it was not fair that one guy could be so good and so much better than the others.
Bill was a four-year veteran when he met Yount, who was about 19 years old. Bill said Yount was real skinny but had amazing skills. Bill said Yount had endless energy and when he wasn't at the ball park, he was off riding motorcycles.
Bill said Hank Aaron had massive forearms and wrists. He said Aaron was so strong that pitchers could never handcuff him with an inside pitch. Aaron could just flick those powerful wrists and the ball would sail out of the park. Bill remarked that the one season he spent with Aaron was the home run king's last. He said Aaron was not nearly as aggressive that last season as he had been when he was younger.
Bill remembered one time they were out in Anaheim playing the Angels and pitcher Frank Tanana brushed Aaron back with an inside pitch. Aaron hit the dirt.
"Why would you do that?" Bill said of Tanana. "It was Hank's last hurrah."
Bill said Aaron got off the ground and was mad as hell at Tanana. Aaron took the next Tanana pitch out to the left field bleachers for a home run.
The story I liked the most had video accompaniment. Bill had me pull out my phone and search for August 1974 Nolan Ryan no hitter. I easily found the video, pressed play and heard the comforting voice of Harry Caray, who voiced the soundtrack for my baseball-loving youth. The video started in the bottom of the 9th inning where Ryan had a no hitter going against the White Sox at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Angels were up 1-0.
The video survived because White Sox organist Nancy Foust had called her family from the park to let them know Nolan Ryan was pitching a no hitter against the Sox. Foust's family popped in a video tape and recorded the bottom of the 9th.
Jorge Orta led off. He looked terrible against Ryan and struck out. Dick Allen was next, he never looked terrible. He started fouling off Ryan's pitches. Allen took a half swing and hit a slow ground ball to third. Angels third basement Rudy Meoli rushed the ball, fielded it cleanly but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. That second or two hesitation enabled Allen to beat out the throw to break up the no hitter.
Carlos May was up next. Bill remarked that May was an excellent hitter. May hit a sharp grounder to first. The first baseman muffed the ball, error, both runners safe. Sox Manager Chuck Tanner sent in a pinch runner for May. Next up was Ken Henderson, runners on first and second, one out. Ryan pitched from the stretch. Henderson fouled four of them off before singling up the middle. Allen scored. Game tied. Pinch runner made it from first to third. Henderson slid into second safe on a close one.
Big Bill Melton up next. He swung at the first pitch and popped it up to the catcher behind home plate. Up next, Bill Sharp. Sharp sees Meoli playing back at third. After taking the first pitch high for a ball. Sharp bunted down the third base line, foul. Next pitch, inside, ball. Sharp then swung at a slider right down the middle and drove the ball past a diving first baseman and into right field for a walk-off single as the pinch runner scored the game winning run. Mayhem. White Sox bench went nuts.
I absolutely loved hearing Bill's stories. Many folks stopped by to talk and Bill had a story or two for each of them. My most sincere thank you to Bill Sharp for a wonderful two hours at the show.
I was absolutely starving at this point and raced to the concession stand to get a couple of sloppy Joes. Jason showed up at my tables around 11:30 or so and I was off to collect table fee from the remaining dealers that did not come over and pay me earlier. Thankfully, most dealers paid prior to Bill Sharp arriving, so it was quick work to collect table fee from the remaining stragglers.
I was back at my tables around 1:15 p.m. and completely exhausted. That morning set up takes a lot out of me. Plus, waking up at 4 a.m. is a killer.
A few dealers complained that I am adding more dealers in November. As I told one dealer, I have been regularly setting up since the late 1970's. My sales are often best at shows containing the largest number of dealers. As I learned years ago, customers are not coming to the show just to see me. They want to see a large variety of dealers. More dealers always lure in more customers.
Another dealer complained that I am moving the end of the show from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. My reasoning for extending the day is that we will now have 170 tables. I want to make sure that customers have time to see all 170. Also, I am not a stickler about dealers staying set up until 4 p.m. They can leave any time they want.
One thing I have noticed is the crowd flow into the gym is not so good. I'm thinking of giving Jeremy a wax box and having him hand out packs in the gym. So, go see Jeremy next month in the gym for a free pack of cards! Hopefully, Jeremy's monthly photos and the free packs will increase customer flow into the gym.
I was pretty happy after the October show. I thought we had nice attendance. I had a ball with Bill Sharp. My sales could have been better. Most importantly -- no thefts!
Next Oak Creek show is November 5th. New hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be 40 tables in the Chapel which is located to the right, when you walk into the show. Waiting list dealers will be contacted shortly.
Next up for me is the Bridgeview show on Saturday, October 8. I have never set up at this show and do not know what to expect. I am not really sure what to bring out. I think I will do a hybrid set up of one table with binders and one table display cases. The show is located at the Bridgeview Community Center, 7900 S. Oketo, Bridgeview, IL. Let me know if you want to see anything special. I will probably bring out my hockey binders as I just finished reloading 1975-76 Topps.
Then on Sunday, October 9, I am hosting another Vintage Pop-Up Shop at my office, 201 E. Dundee Road, Suite 2, Palatine, IL. New this month are dealers Dave McDonald and Kevin Farrell. We are going to have a tremendous amount of awesome vintage cards. Pop-Up Shop runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Thanks everybody. I really appreciate your support!!!! Have a great week!!!
Below are a few more photos from the October 1st Oak Creek Show.