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I don't really need The National

The National Sports Collectors Convention has just ended and I wasn't there again. I am in approximately the 4,705th day of this blog and I still have never been to The National.
If I lived in the greater Chicago or Cleveland area or in New Jersey, I probably would have attended one by now. But since I do not, here is a rather bold statement: It's not worth it. I don't really need it.
Yeah, I know, "it's the experience." It would be cool to see all those cards I can't afford on display, and it'd be cool to see some sports celebrities on the premises, and it would be nice to talk cards in person. But those things aren't necessary to my collecting experience. I'm not much of a people person, or a traveler, nor do I like crowds. From where I sit, I would have to spend a lot of money to spend a lot of money if I were to go.

I don't need that.
Besides, The National came to my door on July 19th.

If you know me, then you know that's just about exactly what I would come home with if I were to go to The National. That all arrived in my mailbox on a single day two weeks ago Monday. Who needs to traipse across the country!

This was the product of two separate envelopes, one from Doug of Sportscards From The Dollar Store and one from reader Dave, who always sends tremendous cards.

I think you need to see some of these separately because that's what I would have been doing if I was home from The National. You can ooh and aah if you like ... or turn up your nose because I didn't actually spend $300 on gas/an airline ticket.

Here are most of the Dodgers from 2021 Stadium Club from Doug. Only Bellinger and Seager are missing (and inserts, of course). Lots of good stuff here, although the famed Justin Turner diving tag shot from last year's postseason is by far the best and hasn't been shown enough.

Doug also sent along the Jackie Robinson box topper that shows Robinson with an incorrectly photoshopped red 42 on the back of the uniform. I'll pair it up with the standard-sized Robinson card so you can see the difference.

I'm not done with box-toppers and neither was Doug:

Modeled after the impossible 1951 Topps Connie Mack/Major League All-Star cards, this is a Mookie Betts box-topper from Series 1. Kudos to Topps for making it look like those 70-year-old cards (except for the glossiness, I'm sure) and the same size, 2-1/16-by-5-1/4! Now, to see if I can actually store it.
Doug also tossed in a few "hits," which are increasingly unnecessary in my collection (I almost never include them in my want lists) but I always appreciate.

A bat relic of Adrian Beltre from 2001 SP. Can't you see me picking that up cheap at a show? I can. Except this was even better than cheap!

I get to add this to the modest selection of Clayton Kershaw relics I own. This is from last year's Panini Chronicles. It's also the 820th Kershaw card in my collection. Weee!

Not my first Steve Sax autographed card. But definitely my first Sax Archives Snapshots autograph and such a clean-and-classy card.

The 2020 Bowman Dodgers are slowly being released from the clutches of last year's hoarders. Here is the Gavin Lux Chrome card. I sure do have a lot of cards of a guy who I still don't know how he fits into the Dodgers' plans.

OK, that takes care of the baseball players from Doug's stash. But he is one of the few traders who isn't afraid to expand to other sports areas because he has exactly what I need there.

Yes, 1991-92 Pro Set hockey needs. I know I can buy the whole, freakin' set for 15 bucks. I don't care. You will see a want list from me at some point.

And, oh yes, goodness, there were Bills. So, so many. I really appreciate the current cards. I don't need any more 1993-2015 Bills. Mostly focusing on pre-'90s stuff and any current cards that fall in my lap. My wife is already talking about Bills season and that's enough to keep me interested in present day Billsees.

Just wanted to show a couple see-through cards because I don't have many of these. What I do have are a lot of Jake Fromm Bills cards. He still hasn't played a game for Buffalo.

OK, so that's it from Buck Store Cards. Let's call it the first day of The National.

Ready for Day 2?

A passel of perfect 1970 Topps cards. We're in "Dave sends great cards" territory. Some are upgrades, some are flat-out needs. I can't wait to add them all to my '70 binder.

I want to stay in 1970 since Dave sent some cards from that year that are near-and-dear to my heart and ones I don't often see in card packages.

Fleer Laughlin World Series needs. Awesome. Ever since I wrote that Beckett article on Laughlin, I've been more and more fascinated with these cards (not that I was never not fascinated). Some of the most clever cards ever made.

Not done with 1970 or with the Bills!:

It's my first 1970 Kellogg's football card and Dave couldn't have picked a more notorious subject for my first. Simpson's rookie cards are in 1970, so what's a few cracks?

One more Bills card and I'll get back to baseball, I promise. As much as I'm a Buffalo guy and Bills guy, the first person I think of when someone brings up an athlete named "Kemp" is "Matt." Jack Kemp was before my time (heck, his political career was pretty much before my time).

This 1968 Topps card is nifty though. Just the right amount of scribbling without it being offensive. What I find most offensive is hyphenating "quarterback."

As you saw by the Laughlin cards, Dave went extreme oddball with the baseball selections, and I bow humbly in his direction. I mean look at these:

The top three cards show former well-known MLBers representing the Santurce Crabbers, which is a longstanding Puerto Rican pro league team whose uniforms closely resemble the Dodgers' uniforms.

These cards were issued in 1989 by BYN Cards (from San Juan, P.R.). I believe "John" Valentin, actually Jose Valentin, is the current owner for Santurce.

The Will Smith-Will Smith Topps Now card is tremendous and just the thing that Twitter lives for. The first same-name showdown in postseason history ended with the Dodgers' Will Smith hitting a three-run HR off the Braves' Will Smith. I want to smoochy, smoochy kiss this card.

And, finally, I had no idea what the Wilbert Robinson card was (Dave is always making me do research). It's  a tiny little thing (think mid-1980s Fleer minis). The back contains a thorough bio from top to bottom in eye-chart type. It's from something called Callahan Hall of Fame, which were issued in 1950 and continued with new cards until 1956 as more people were added to the Hall of Fame. Cards were sold at the Hall of Fame and ballparks.

OK, some oddballs that you're more accustomed to seeing here. Both are needs and I'm super happy to see Harrelson as I'm getting down to the final battles for those '76 Hostess cards.

This could be the most impressive card that Dave sent. That's an immaculate copy of a 1974 Kellogg's card of Reggie at the height of his Oakland A's powers.

This '75 Reggie has seen better days but I will take it for now.

Same deal with these '75s. This is the Kellogg's set that I want to focus on next, but I don't see it becoming a priority until next year.

Then there is this. Wow! 1971s!!! Almost all are in fantastic shape, too! That is tough to do with 50-year-old Kellogg's cards! Guess that '71K want list is on its way.

But I have shown you all of that to show you this:

A stack of 1977 O-Pee-Chee, my favorite OPC set.

Dave said he had some of these for me, so I tacked up a want list and waited. I am very amused by what I found.

Here is the mind-blowing Garry Templeton card without the Topps rookie cup logo.

Here are five cards in which the photos are cropped much closer than the ones on the respective players' Topps cards.

Here are six cards WITHOUT All-Star banners.

Here are two players with completely different pictures than in their respective Topps cards.

Here are six players in obviously airbrushed hats that look nothing like their Topps cards.

Here is a manager and coach card unlike anything you would see in Topps that year.

Some more Expos and Jays with different photos or different facial hair or what-not.


This Topps-OPC comparison is ... well, there are no words.

Also, I could sit and stare at this for hours.

And that's it. I'm done.

I couldn't possibly have asked for more if I drove across four states, forked over 3-4 days lodging, paid for all that dining and -- what? -- I should have money to pay for cards, too?

The National is for people who need that camaraderie, the sense of adventure, the excitement of the biggest show on earth and who don't hear their brain screaming when there are six people surrounding him as he looks at cards.

I'm not one of those people. Thank goodness I don't need to be.


Phil Abramowitz said…
Always loved the look of 1991 Proset hockey. Suck a great set.
Matthew Glidden said…
Those Cecil Cooper and George Scott cards say everything that needs to be said. I'm surprised OPC decided not to change Scott's shark tooth necklace!
Thanks for the reassurance about not going to the National. I have been to one (Chicago 2015). I can't justify the expense of going again, but I wanted to see it once. You make me think with every one of your posts. I don't even have all the 70s Topps sets, and you have me pondering OPC! :)
Brett Alan said…
The Sixto Lezcano Puerto Rican card is totally awesome.

The Kershaw relic seems weird to me, because they put the relic behind him. Who does that? Archives Snapshots always look sooo good.

I have the 1977 OPC set, but I totally forgot that the Gary Carter is a different picture. Cool.
Never been to a National myself. I do want too, but it most certainly have to be a heck of a lot closer. I'll have to be happy with the card show this coming Saturday.
bbcardz said…
I've been to the National once (Anaheim 2006) with my two kids. To me, it was busy but not crowded. We had a really great time. We didn't pay for any autographs but at the booths we saw Jay Johnstone and chatted with former Dodgers Tommy Davis and Willie Davis.
Fuji said…

I love the 1977 Topps team cards... but after seeing the OPC Dick Williams, I wish they would have made manager cards too. Very cool card. Actually... a lot of great stuff here, but not enough time to comment on them all, so I'll comment on going to the National instead.

Never gone. I'd like to go at least once, but if I did... it'd be a part of a much larger trip to help justify the cost. I could see myself probably going if it made it out to a city on the west coast, but that's not gonna happen anytime soon. Maybe one day...
Nick said…
If I didn't live 15 minutes away from the Chicago National I doubt I would've ever been to one, either. It's a great show, of course, but not worth travelling halfway across the country for like a lot of people seem to do. Smaller local shows are a better match for my personality.

I bought a '72 Kellogg's Reggie at the National - the guy pulled out his Beckett to decide what to charge me - but didn't see one of those sweet '74 Reggies in the whole hall!
John Collins said…
Thanks for making me feel better about the National - I couldn't agree with you more. I could choose to pour more resources - including both time and money - into my hobby, but I don't. I have a family, and at some point I think that becomes unfair to them. It would be different if everyone were as baseball card insane as I am, but of course they aren't. While I would certainly agree that the National is probably a great experience, I'm not devoting 3 days or an entire week just to me and my hobby while my wife and girls have to find other things to do. I'm not judging those who do this necessarily, just saying that's not how things traditionally work for us. Vacation time is for everyone.
Jim Osborne said…
Agree, between eBay, Sportlots and Twitter trading a collector can work on any type of collecting they desire. Gotta working that 77 OPC set myself, the regular issue is a sentimental favorite of mine and the variations are, as you’ve shown, fantastic!
Jafronius said…
I took my boys with on the last day of the National back in 2019. Got in for free with 75% of the booths still open. Good enough for me since I couldn't go through boxes with 2 boys in tow.
Dave said…
Do those Santurce Crabbers meet the night card qualifier?
night owl said…
They do! Although I'm still trying to figure out the card number on those things to see if they fit in the exclusive night card binder.
Jon said…
I'm pretty sure that if everybody had a Doug and Dave sending them cards like these, there would be no National. Nobody would need it!