Let’s face it, the National Convention would be a cool idea no matter where the show was held. Just like the great early shows in the hobby’s history, it’s the dealers who make the show something special, and that group remains largely intact every year except for the sad attrition that comes with a hobby so thoroughly populated by old geezers.
I know in recent years, say the last 15 or so, the autograph lineup has assumed a much greater role in bringing folks through the front door, but that’s a solution without a terribly happy ending, in part because it becomes more expensive every year to keep the same big names on the signing roster. Meanwhile, the dealers quite correctly remain the focus of the famed show, now celebrating its 30th anniversary.
When I go to the National I try to have at least a general idea of what I’m looking for, if for no other reason than to give myself a sense of direction in chasing down various dealers. It’s too bad that I have to be selective, but given all my duties at the National as editor of SCD, there’s only a limited amount of time I can spend off the books, so to speak.
So this year, along with just generally looking for interesting stuff for the magazine, I am in search of an unopened pack, wax or cello, of 1959 Topps Baseball. I realize how challenging that can be, having passed – perhaps unfortunately – on a neat 1959 cello last year from Baseball Card Exchange.
That cello had Wes Covington showing, but that’s not particularly vital to me, since I would be buying it to open it up. As some readers may recall, I opened a 1960 Topps cello on my 50th birthday in 2000 (and chronicled the results in SCD), so now I would like to open a 1959 pack for my 60th, which should come along in about a year.
My other fun search is for boxes of that goofy 1994 Upper Deck All-Time Heroes issue of black-and-white cards of old-timers. The set isn’t particularly valuable (maybe $20 or less), but the boxes do have the two 1954 Topps Ted Williams cards that weren’t in the Topps reprint issue that year, along with an ersatz Mickey Mantle card. All three might set you back $200 if you bought them from a dealer. I think it’s one of the toughest unopened boxes from the last 20 years, largely because I figure most of the boxes were quite savagely opened up in search of those three inserts.
I’ll let you know if I spot any boxes in Cleveland, and you’ll also be the first to know if I pull the trigger – or even find – a 1959 Topps pack for next year’s loosely planned festivities.