Thursday, July 11, 2019

Why I chose a hotel card show over the National

Over and over again, I've said that the true good of this hobby exists in the world of hotel card shows, but I think I've finally found an item that personifies that to you more than my words and observations ever could.

I bought this at the very first table of the hotel show Dad and I attended this past Sunday. It's not part of some kind of corporate-branded Limited Time Only frame promotion run by Topps or anything: it's simply Yusei Kikuchi's Topps rookie card, paired with the photo-variation SP, housed in a custom frame by a vendor -- a nice elderly gentleman who I see at all the local shows -- who obviously loves the hobby and just thought such a display would look nice. And I got all that for three dollars.

The cards themselves would've been a steal at that price -- I've since removed them and repurposed the frame for a different display in my room -- but it's the complete package, what it symbolizes to me, that made it such a memorable buy.

You may already know that the National is coming to my town at the end of the month, the Mecca for most collectors: but me, I chose to take my money to the hotel card show last weekend instead.

I'm not saying the National is bad or that people shouldn't go -- I'll be there if the funds shake out -- and I know that I probably could've gotten most of the cards I found on Sunday (like this smattering of pressing 2019 needs) there had I chose to wait a few weeks.

It's just that in the insanity of it, I think people forget or plain don't realize that the National has its glaring flaws -- the $20 admission fee, the cash hunger, the pricing out of the low-end collectors -- so, in the end, I've learned that my true bliss resides at the hotel card shows.

I'll just say this: that same elderly vendor who had the Kikuchi frame let me pick out a few free 2019 Topps Total from a snap case he had behind the table, which good luck finding someone willing to let you do that at the National.

I realize that I'm probably the crazy one in this situation, that weird dude who picked a hotel show over the National, and in some ways I guess I ate my own words because I did choose to snag a few cards of "big-money" rookies on Sunday.

At three bucks, the Alonso was the second-most expensive single card I bought all day, and the odd non-numbered Vlad Jr. was easily the priciest at a whopping $10 -- though I only bought it more out of serendipity since I spotted it on my way out the door with exactly ten dollars left in my wallet.

The one disappointment from Sunday's show was that I came up empty on locating any of my remaining 2019 Topps Big League base needs (I guess people have moved on to the next latest and greatest set by now), but there were more than enough other unexpected 2019 finds to balance the scales.

Snazzy adds to some of my prime player collections here.

Mini-collection hits, past and present -- the Story is actually a scarce Jackie Robinson Day SP from 2019 GQ, which, yes, I found tucked away in a dime box.

Miscellany is what keeps me coming back to these shows: you never know when you'll find a colorized Cooperstown SP for a dime, or a card of George Brett's pine-tarred bat (my nominee for the Strangest Card of 2019).

There's maybe a dozen vendors in all at this hotel show, and I'd say about eight or nine of them had a dime box -- I'm lucky if I see eight or nine dime boxes in the entirety of the National.

Most of the dime boxes I saw on Sunday were packed with 2019 singles, but a couple of them had the gloriously random selections near and dear to my heart.

It's not every day I find a new Julio Franco card, and that Bobby Thompson has actually been on my want list for years.

More randoms (how have I never seen that Enos Cabell before?!), and I can say with much certainty that I wasn't expecting to own a baseball card of Guided By Voices frontman Bob Pollard in my lifetime.

Dollar boxes have never been my speed, but I didn't hesitate at spending a whole Washington on these two -- the Scully was another long-desired card of mine, and the Ohtani is a factory-set variation.

One of the more unexpected finds in Sunday's largely modern haul was a 1974 TCMA Gas House Gang complete set for a mere five bucks.

For some reason, I initially balked at grabbing it -- I already had a couple of these, including the Dizzy Dean -- but come on: the sheer number of characters and/or fun nicknames on the '34 Cardinals should've made this an instant buy.

The possibility of landing photo variations wasn't even on my radar going into Sunday, but that changed rather quickly.

In addition to this excellent SP of a double-dipping Robin Yount...

...came a gaggle of other stunning variants at equally stunning prices.

Some of these (like Syndergaard and Greinke at the plate!) cost me all of a dollar, and none of the others set me back more than two or three bucks per -- the Brock is probably my favorite of the lot, but I'm fond of the Yaz cameo on that Pedroia as well, even if it feels it's more of a cameo on Pedroia's part.

My main goal on Sunday was to polish off my 2019 Stadium Club needs on the cheap, and just about every table helped me achieve that without much of a problem.

The quality of this year's set is so great that I probably ended up buying close to 200 singles (the set is 300 cards) that I needed for either the featured player, the excellent photo, or in many cases, both.

And, better yet, the cards in this page and the one before it were indeed just a dime a pop -- just a small fraction of all the excellence 2019 Stadium Club has to offer.

Only after arriving home later that day did I realize I'd accidentally unearthed a rare photo SP from one of those Stadium Club dime boxes with this Hoskins.

Hell if I remember who it came from, or what dime box it was, but it made for a nice cherry on top of what was already a day well spent -- it's hard to imagine a better place to pass an afternoon than within the quiet confines of a hotel card show, and yes...that includes the National.


Kin said...

Personally, I don't think it's crazy at all. The way you collect isn't something that you need the national for. I want to go because I collect prewar stuff that can't be found at my local shows. I applaud you for spending your money more wisely. How much can you get for that $20 you'd have spent just to get into the national?


Chris said...

Those are some great cards. I've never seen that Julio Franco before, or anything from that set, and the 2019 Topps variants are fantastic.

I kind of feel like the National is something that every collector should experience once, like a bucket list item or something. But it would be sensory overload for me. Too much chaos, too much money required, and far too much to look at. Unless you're looking for something super high-end or rare, small shows are almost always satisfying.

Mike said...

I would be of the same mindset. There used to be a few consistent card shows nearby and I would spend far too much time rifling through dime boxes, which led to so many fun adds to my collection. From what I have seen of the National, my reaction would be similar to that of what Chris describes above in terms of sensory concerns, not to mention that I really have no interest in paying a great deal of money for cards. Something smaller like you described sounds enjoyable, though.

David Switzer said...

I've been second guessing my decision to go to the national ever since July hit. I haven't been to one in over 15 years, and I'm sure they're nothing like they used to be. And I'm not a big spender. I don't enjoy high end stuff much. Maybe I'll save my money for something better too.

Fuji said...

Never been to The National... but I hope to one day attend one. That being said... I totally miss local hotel card shows. There were a ton of them in the late 80's to the late 90's... but they've mostly dried up around here.

Sweet pickups. That 1974 TCMA Gas House Gang set is especially cool.

P-town Tom said...

I talked myself out of going to The National a couple of months ago. This post helped me realize that it's probably not for me. I collect very much like yourself.
There's a hotel card show in East Peoria next weekend and I'm so pumped. It'll be the first hotel card show in the area in at least a decade. I'm so pumped!

Doc Samson said...

Great haul, Nick. I always debate whether or not to go to the National in Rosemont. The more I think about it, the negatives outweigh the positives. The entrance fee is a turn off, and when you think about it, you could buy a complete set with that dough. And there's also this crazy little thing called Ebay...

David Switzer said...

Tom, I don't think I know you, but thanks for that card show info. I know what I'll be doing tomorrow!!

Defenders50 said...

It's a little sad that Topps uses such good photos on SPs, but it actually makes me want their SP cards like that more than most of the auto/relic junk they are putting out.

And hey look, another amazing 2019 Stadium Club card I hadn't seen yet in that Dee Gordon.

Jon said...

I completely understand this sentiment, as I feel the same way about the monthly show in Nashville. September brings one of the twice a year nearly 200-table shows, I've never been to The National, so I don't know if the big shows here are comparable, but they're good enough for me, and a heck of a lot closer.

Mike said...

Good time,as always...if you do decide to hit the National,I'm down!

Vintage Football Cards - Mike said...

Different strokes for different folks. I always say "there's no wrong way to collect." I think nowadays a large percentage of collectors go to the National (and other shows) more for the experience .. than they do for finding good deals on cards. With the advent of the internet and the demise of local card shops, most collectors are collecting from home ... making nameless / faceless transactions with their keyboard. You loose all of the human interaction that can be a big part of the collecting experience for some.

Also, card shows, card shops, auction houses, eBay, etc. all have too many hands in the pot, all needing to make a percentage off each sale.

Personally, I'm a big fan of buying, selling, auctioning and trading cards through the Facebook card groups. You get the old fashioned feel of meeting, dealing and conversing with real people... often making new collecting friends in the process. The card selection is large enough to usually find what you need, and the prices are typically lower than the other platforms... since it's mainly collectors dealing directly with collectors, plus a few dealers sprinkled in.

It's my new daily "card show" where I can go 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.

GCA said...

I want to go to them all!

The National isn't only about overpriced high end stuff. It's just the place where you can FIND the rare high end stuff.

But there's plenty of other dealers that have regular vintage/90s/newer base and inserts for cheap too. And they're from all over the country, so you haven't seen their stuff before!

I would encourage everyone to try it once. A day's admission is $20, but to me it's worth it just for the access to that many dealers from all over.

Don't be discouraged because you have the image of just the elitist sales going on there...

Baltmoss68 said...

I live ina great area for face to face collecting. We hav a couple of great card shops, an active flea market and some outstanding local shows. All have led to enhancing my collection. But more importantly I have made some great friends. Who needs the bay and the national ??😜

Tim said...

This year's stadium club is an absolute goldmine of amazing cards.

SumoMenkoMan said...

I’ve never been to the National, but there is nothing like a good old fashioned hotel card show!