I was supposed to go to a card show today. It was one of two "guaranteed" card show destinations out of the year for me.
I'd get up early -- well, early for me anyway -- maybe meet Angus in the Wild Wings parking lot, drive down to the show, marvel at all the deals and finds, spend all my money, feel giddy the entire drive back, have a nice dinner, then relive my acquisitions when I got home and in the rehash blog post the next day.
None of that happened. The show, like everything else fun and worth driving to in the last month-plus, was canceled. And I will wait many months for another one to appear.
So, I went to the mythical card show instead.
What? You don't know about the mythical card show?
Oh, it's great.
There may not be as many tables at this show as the one that was just canceled. But the show is always packed. Wall-to-wall people. No more than 3 feet between anyone. But nobody cares, because nobody is going to catch anything. Some kid coughed in my face. I didn't care.
Best of all, the cards were free. All of them. Free.
Come with me on my walk through the show.
My first stop was at a table run by a dealer named Brian.
Brian has an entire section of his table labeled "Free Stuff Fridays". It wasn't Friday, but still everything was free. Yeah, it didn't make sense, but it's my mythical show, so it's not supposed to make sense.
I nabbed this wonderful 1970 Topps Claude Raymond, one of the few cards of Claude without his zipper down (as far as we can tell). It will go nicely in my '70 Topps set quest.
I also landed this Opening Day card of ex-Dodger Alex Verdugo, who I'm guessing hates long sleeves.
Dealers always have the latest stuff, even at mythical shows and this wouldn't be the only Opening Day find.
As I left the table, Brian called out to me and when I turned, he tossed an extra card toward me:
Hey, it's Dodger prospect Cristian Santana! Let's hope he has a season to play.
Next to Brian -- not even six feet away -- was another dealer table, operated by a guy named Trevor.
Trevor arrived all the way from the western U.S. to be at this show and I couldn't help but spend absolutely no money at his table to grab a few cards.
Here's a goldie Turner Update during much happier times.
Are these supposed to be camo parallels? I've been calling them "green grass" parallels because that's what they look like to me on first glance. Anyway -- moar PROSPECTS?! I guess you can't go wrong if they're free.
This was one of the finds of the show. I'm a sucker for any late '80s Buffalo Bison or early '90s Watertown Indian. I never covered Daron Kirkreit, but I remember us writing about him in our newspaper back when the Indians were a big deal in town. I do miss those days.
A couple of tables over stood a dealer named Jeremy. He had place a couple of boxes out on his table. They were labeled "These Aren't Dime Boxes, These Are FREE Boxes," and, no lie, as I shuffled through the cards, every one of them was free. ("Why didn't you take the whole box if they were all free?" I hear somebody asking. "Because I'm not rude," I reply).
It was very 2020 Opening Day heavy and I plucked out three of them:
Good stuff. And in the very mythical land that I was in, even the date on the Cody Bellinger card wasn't a lie forever and ever. In fact, next to me, I heard a man and his son talking about the Opening Day game between the Nationals and Mets they were at a little more than a week ago. That made me think about sitting in those ballpark seats, sometimes the people behind you so close that you could feel their breath or get hit by a speck of hot dog roll and it didn't even matter.
Then I thought about the ballpark restrooms and how about half of the people in there never washed their hands, and even in mythical card show land, I shuddered.
But still, you should've been at this show. Everywhere, I heard dealers talk about nothing except how much they loved cards. Next to me, a collector asked a dealer whether he had commons for the 1982 Topps baseball set and the dealer whipped out a full box of commons. "I never leave these at home," he told the collector. "I bring every card I have to the show because set collectors matter, too."
Smiling, I walked happily to another dealer, who I know well. His name is Kerry. He always has the exact cards that I want.
More Opening Day. Shows are the perfect place to get cards that you can't be bothered with when you're in the card aisle.
Kerry's table was my first in-person introduction to this year's Panini Donruss. Man, these things are weird. I don't know what that design is. Did a human think of that? It looks like something a computer would spit out if you input the words "baseball," "lines" and "dots" into it.
This is much better. But that's because it replicates an actual design created in the '80s. It's pretty much my least favorite traditional Donruss design (1986), but it whales on current Donruss designs.
I also grabbed one of the Decades' Best inserts. Unlike last year's "great players" retrospective insert -- which I enjoyed quite a bit -- these are less exciting visually. The best part are the decade-specific design themes at the bottom. The pictures are pretty ho-hum.
Finally, I added another card that might raise a few question marks among people who know me.
Uh, a Cubs card? Are we collecting 2006 Bowman Heritage now?
No, I'm not, although Kerry is.
Take a look at Greg Maddux's face. Does he look happy in that Cubs uniform?
No, he doesn't. Because, he's a Los Angeles Dodger. And this is a Dodger card. Finally my '06 Bowman Heritage Dodgers team set is complete.
I was almost done with my mythical card show but I needed to stop at one last vintage-themed table before I left.
Johnny had a bunch of 1967 Topps sitting out there for free and since I am supposedly collecting the set, I started checking my want list on my phone and pulling out cards.
Card after card of '67 greatness, putting a window up to the baseball world from that year, and all free.
I mean Bobby Knoop and Calvin Koonce!!
Everything off my want list! And in perfectly satisfactory condition! OK, Don Kessinger looks like he came out of the toaster, but there is no room for complaints in the mythical card show! Everyone is happy to be there!
Perfectly pleased, I started to head to the door, but another table called out to me. It also had a 1967 Topps theme.
Richard had arrived all the way from Canada to offer me a couple of '67 Topps cards at zero cost. Richard is also a writer and blogger (which I didn't even know when he contact me).
This card was most welcome as it replaces one of the written-on cards that I picked up at an actual card show several years ago.
I've been replacing these bit by bit but it's slow going because I can't just buy '60s card anytime I want.
There was one last card from that table that I found, the last card of the show.
This, to those who know the '67 set well, is a high, high-number card in likely the toughest high-number set of all-time.
It is card No. 608, the second-to-last card in the set!
Try getting that for free at a non-mythical card show.
As I walked out of that card show, I shook the hand of everyone in sight out in the parking lot. "Great show!" "Great show!" we all said. And then we all jumped in our cars, did NOT reach for the hand sanitizer, and didn't think about germs the entire way home.