A couple of the tables I stop by weren't around (maybe they were at the other show 20 minutes down the road). So, I went back to the guy with the '75 cards. He had a binder of random '60s baseball. I grabbed a handful of '67s I needed.
It's interesting navigating in a world that's gone crazy.
Often-times, when people around me have gone off the deep-end, either panicking when there's no need, taking whatever event or activity to the extreme or just having wack-a-doo thoughts, I have to constantly check myself:
OK, am I still normal? How about now? Still normal? *Three weeks later* Still normal? It's a constant inventory evaluation because I'm always expecting some of the crazy to rub off on me. There's just so much of it around. Only a matter of time, right?
So into this strange hobby world, I entered my first card show in 693 days on Sunday.
I didn't know what to expect with everything that's transpired in the last year-plus. I've heard some say shows have changed. I've heard some say they're pretty much the same.
Before heading out I took two signals -- which basically say the hobby is pretty darn vibrant -- as a warning. One, the place where I was going never has shows in September. It's always October. Oh, and there's supposed to be a show in October, too. ... Two, there were two separate shows, scheduled on the same day in the same city no more than 20 minutes apart. I don't think I've heard of that since the early '90s.
So, yeah, a bit of trepidation. But lots of excitement, too. I hadn't been to a show since Oct. 19, 2019. What would I find?
When I pulled into the state fairgrounds -- here's another sign that I'm about to enter a building packed with overweight patrons -- there was a dude parking our cars. I usually park myself. He steered me to a strip of pavement where I parked like I was on the side of street. All the other spaces were full.
The cost of entering the show had gone up a buck, too.
But I was determined to do what I always did: find some vintage and add to some sets, find a few Dodgers, look for oddballs, maybe rifle through a few discount boxes. The usual.
Stepping into the building (mask on again) and paying my fee, I looked around and it was, surprisingly ... normal.
Here is a quick pic shortly after walking in.
Lots of room to roam, right? Doesn't look like a lot of traffic, but actually it was about av ...
Hold on ...
Yeah, bud, I'm taking a picture. Seen that before?
(This guy actually had a stack of some cool 1960s Bell Brand Dodgers in remarkable shape. If I had caught this earlier, he probably would've gotten all my money).
Anyway, I was saying the crowd was about average. I'm guessing it was a bit less than it would have been because it was taking place as most NFL teams were making their season debut. But the NFL has no shot with me when there is a card show available.
The customers were about the same -- lot of people leading with their gut. There were a few more women than usual. Some kids. I didn't see anyone carrying metal briefcases. The most unusual people I saw were about 5 or 6 really big dudes, like NFL-lineman big, and they all had lots of hair and beards. I don't know what they were up to.
But none of that kept me doing what I normally do.
So I headed right away to the vintage guy I always buy from and -- what the heck, let's get some 1955 Dodgers that I've been ignoring for too long.
A couple of very nice specimens and cheaper than the sharper ones that were also available. But you know me and '50s cards -- I actually don't want them TOO nice.
I looked into getting some more, saw the prices and lol, nope! Let's check out the 1970s Topps binder.
The best progress of the whole show right there. A handful are upgrades, but most are brand new.
As you can see, I gravitated right to the catchers poses. And several are high numbers here. Cardboard Legend Jim Roland, at the top left, was the highest number (#719) left that I needed.
I think I like the Bobby Bonds best of all, as that was one of the few 1970 cards I had as a teen and I distributed it away when I thought "I will never collect the 1970 set."
While I was still at the super-vintage table (I could spend the entire show there) I always check out at least one of the oddball binders. This one was the one with Laughlin World Series cards. Love those.
Got three from 1970, which I think are more interesting than the 1971 ones.
I get a kick out of this one. I even referred to it in the magazine article I wrote about the Laughlin sets.
One of the most distinctive of all the Laughlin WS cards.
I pulled myself away from those tables to force myself to mingle with other dealers (I hate mingling). From there I went to a table that usually features some discount boxes. Angus and I were at this guy's table for quite some time at a show a couple years ago.
This was pretty much the only table that had obvious discount boxes in the entire place. In that way, this was like the other shows I've heard about over the last few months. Less and less discount boxes because dealers think they can sucker people into overpriced product.
I did see a fair amount of tables with nothing but unopened boxes. I usually pay those no mind. I'm not at a show for blasters, I'd rather not open cards that I don't want when there's so much available in the same place that I do want. I did take a glance to see what a box of 2021 A&G was going for. $140. No thanks.
So I camped at the small dollar box for 20 minutes or so and looked for Dodgers.
That's what I found. I think some Dodgers fan got there before me. But not the Braves fan. There were Braves cards everywhere.
I probably overpaid for that Bruce Aven goldie, who remembers him? But I do. I think I've mentioned this before, and this is how long ago he was playing, but Aven used to play for the Watertown Indians back in the mid 1990s. This was before everyone had the internet, obviously. We were an afternoon newspaper at the time. Aven's dad would call us every morning from Texas to find out how his son did the previous night.
There was also a quarter box, mostly filled with early '90s junk wax baseball. But there were also Bills cards available and I need a few more Topps Bills from that time. Bonus, I got a 1976 Bills card in there, too! (The McGahee is obviously earlier, but I can't resist the '77 retro design).
After leaving my thanks and departing, I snapped another photo:
Not much of interest on those tables immediately in the front, which is probably why I had room to take a picture.
Off to the right of the photo and down a ways, I found another vintage guy, who has a smallish inventory but there's always something I want at his table. It's a bit disorganized, but everything is priced. I've bought 1977 football from him.
There was a little cardboard sign behind a healthy stack of 1975 Topps baseball that said "40 cents apiece". I'm always looking to upgrade my '75 set and these cards looked in nice shape. So I grabbed a few.
Not all of them made the grade, but it's nice to have inventory as a known '75 lover. I always feel guilty when I don't have extras for people trying to complete the set.
The cards I could upgrade were the Reuss, Richards, Tepedino, Apodaca, Tanana and DeMola.
From there I went to check out the guy who always has binders of modern sets. That's how I often fill my Dodgers team sets. Unfortunately everything he had was 2020 stuff or 2021 Topps flagship. Not much I need there.
Good stuff! I have wanted that Orlando Cepeda card since I pulled the 1967 MVPs card in the '75 set in 1975! So elusive!
The Jim Owens card is a high number and was pretty cheap. I walked away happy and then walked right out of the building! With a few dollars left in my pocket! That hardly ever happens!
The best part is I was able to operate as usual, with the same people basically, and actually get some real collecting done for the first time in nearly two years.
I was there for only just over an hour. And I got back in time for the back half of the Bills game (big mistake). There are a lot -- a lot of collectors -- who chat up the dealers at these shows. That amazes me (probably doesn't amaze Angus). I think the part that amazes me most is they're not even looking at cards when they're doing it. They're just talking! Dude, focus! Cards in front of you!
Meanwhile, I slip in and slip out, slipped into my vehicle parked at the side of the road (the lot had emptied out quick) and slipped back onto the highway.
It was a pretty normal show. Wasn't the most crowded I've seen. Not by a long shot. I wasn't impeded. I wasn't disappointed (well, I would've liked to find some '70s Kelloggs).
And that's a good sign.
Maybe the card world hasn't totally gone crazy. Or has come down from crazy.
As for the rest of the world ...