I'm usually a bit of a couch potato on Saturdays.
Since it's sandwiched between work days for me (I have a Thursday-Friday-Sunday-Monday schedule), Saturday is a day of relaxation for me. I'll usually sit around the house, watch a little baseball, catch up on some reading, all from the air-conditioned confines of my lodging.
But not this Saturday. Not today. Because today, my friends, is National Baseball Card Day, the first since Topps let the idea die (for the time being) way back in 2008.
The revival of the cardboard holiday got me off my behind and up to the local card shop, that was, thankfully, one of the stores participating in this year's event. I'd bought from this LCS before but haven't been anything near a regular customer. The last time I went was at least six or seven months ago.
But National Baseball Card Day inspired me to take the trip, and here I am blogging about it -- another thing I don't usually do on Saturdays.
While I was mainly there for the free, exclusive National Baseball Card Day pack (which we'll get to soon), I spent a good amount of time perusing the LCS stock.
The card shop was hosting some kind of Yu-gi-oh tournament when I was up there, so there wasn't a ton of room to roam between the 12-15 gamers sitting around at tables and folding chairs. Where were all the baseball fans? I was a little worried National Baseball Card Day was going to be a marketing failure as I asked to check out the owner's quarter binders of Cubs and White Sox.
Though I've picked through most of the quarter selection before, I still managed to secure a handful of new ones with these and the bronze Konerko parallel at the top of this post (the Ramirez will actually go into my Pirates binder, but he's better known as a Cub).
As the Yu-gi-oh tournament raged on behind me, the LCS owner and I debated Paulie's Cooperstown credentials (I think he should get in) as I perused the quarter suspects and waited to see if there'd be more baseball-minded shoppers.
I moved on to the guy's dollar box, and then a funny thing happened.
People actually started to come in off the street, asking for baseball cards. A guy right around my age walked through the door and inquired about the National Baseball Card Day event. He promptly bought a few singles, a pack of Allen & Ginter, received his free National Baseball Card Day pack, and left.
Then came a couple a few minutes later -- again, right around my age -- asking about, you guessed it, National Baseball Card Day. The woman said her dad was a big Kris Bryant fan, and that she herself dabbled in baseball cards here and there but wasn't much up-to-date on the hobby. The guy said he was also a similar kind of sometimes collector. National Baseball Card Day had gotten them interested in the hobby again, at least for today.
The shop owner filled them in, giving them the rundown of current products like A&G and Opening Day. Though I left before they were done, they also had a couple miscellaneous dollar-box singles and packs of A&G and Opening Day in their purchase pile.
I, too, did a little damage with the dollar box, with Kerry Wood filling my longtime wish to own one of these quirky "Rally Caps" inserts.
I admit, I was a little skeptical of National Baseball Card Day at first.
I thought it had the potential to be another one of Topps's hey-look-we're-catering-to-kids-and-non-collectors events, while only really marketing it towards collectors and those already immersed in the hobby.
I can't speak for other card shops around the country, but the promo certainly seemed to succeed at my LCS. It got people like that couple who might never have stepped foot inside a card shop to do so this afternoon.
It even got longtime collectors like myself to get out and buy stuff from my LCS -- including these two retail-only Heritage Sandy Koufax inserts -- supporting the business and getting some free cards along the way.
These fun "Bubble Trouble" inserts were notoriously tough pulls from this year's Opening Day (one per box), so I couldn't resist throwing a buck at Robbie Cano here.
It's my first insert from the set, and the first one I've seen in-person, actually.
The shop owner had a ton of these shop-exclusive 2015 Spring Fever inserts in his dollar box, though I settled on two I wanted more than any others since I didn't have a ton of cash on me.
I bought the Trout because I figured I'd have a hard time finding it much cheaper than a buck anywhere else, and I bought the Rizzo...because it's Anthony Rizzo.
At one point I asked the shop owner if he had any other miscellaneous singles for sale.
It's a good thing I did, because he then proceeded to pull out a huge box of this year's Spring Fever inserts from behind the counter.
The set is packed with guys I collect, but, again, since I didn't want to go too crazy, I settled on a couple of my current favorite big leaguers with Johnny Cueto and Ichiro...
...on top of a smattering of hometown heroes as well.
With the Chicago inflation prices most Cubs and Sox tend to command, I thought it was extremely generous of the LCS owner to let me have these for a buck a pop -- especially the Bryant and Schwarber.
Even better was the fact that, although I'd picked out about fifteen bucks' worth of cardboard, the guy let me have everything for an even $10. Call it the spirit of National Baseball Card Day.
Speaking of which...
...that's right, I did say something about free cards -- didn't I?
As part of the promo, every LCS customer today received a complementary six-card pack, exclusive to National Baseball Card Day. The owner fanned the packs out in front of me like a deck of playing cards -- face-down, so I couldn't see the top card through the clear cellophane wrapper -- and had me pick one.
Decisions, decisions. Stress, stress. Anxiety, anxiety. What if I somehow picked a bad pack? A dud? What if...Jesus, Nick, you're overthinking this. I went with the third pack from the right, and turned it over to find Joe Mauer staring back at me from the front of it. A guy I collect. Success!
Then -- yes -- Ichiro! The 3,000-hit man himself, and the one card I was hoping to get more than any other. Turned out I needed each and every single one of the six cards in that pack, as a matter of fact.
One of the caveats of National Baseball Card Day was that you had to make a "qualifying purchase" of at least $10 (I'm guessing that means Topps products) to receive this Kris Bryant card, which isn't available in any of the six-card packs.
I was fully prepared to buy a couple packs of A&G or something in order to meet that ten-dollar minimum -- if for no other reason than to support the LCS and crack open a few wrappers -- but the ever-generous owner was nice enough to include a copy of the Bryant with any $10 purchase (including two copies for the aforementioned couple -- one for the man, and one for the woman).
So that's how I spent my National Baseball Card Day. Sure beats sitting around on the couch, eating leftover Chipotle.
All I can say is that I really hope Topps continues this promotion going forward, because the hobby really needs more events like this one. Events catered towards those who might not be diehard collectors, or even those who haven't picked up a baseball card in a decade. Events designed to get people out of their homes and into card shops, even if just for a single day.
Because even that single day might help someone blossom into a lifetime collector.