Tell us about your first National Convention …

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   I blogged yesterday about the coming National Convention in Cleveland, noting that every collector finds different things about the annual event that make the return to the next as inevitable as the arrival of the new cards every spring.
   I’d be interested in hearing the readers’ recollections of their first Nationals, or maybe their favorite ones, and would ask that they be sent to my Sports Collectors Digest e-mail address at:
   I don’t recall if I even knew about the very first National in Los Angeles beforehand; I was newly married in the early 1980s and wasn’t exactly flush, so the idea of going to LA wouldn’t have even been on the radar screen. The next three were all in the Midwest (Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago), and while I knew about them beforehand from SCD, my job with the Empire State Games meant that there was no time off for much of anything during the summer months,
   But by 1984 I was no longer under the iron grip of New York State employment, I was living in Delaware and actively promoting my fledgling O’Connell & Son Ink mail-order business. Parsippany, N.J., sounded doable.
   I was already on Bob Schmierer’s waiting list for the famed EPSCC Philadelphia Show; I don’t recall if I tried to get my own National table or not. I might not have, since I already had an offer to share table space with a dealer from Florida. Believe it or not, I can’t remember the name of the company, despite the fact that I was extremely grateful that he had provided me the opportunity to get exposure for the O’Connell & Son Ink artwork.
   What a thrill! In the hours leading up to the show’s opening, I met a dozen or more of the hobby pioneers, guys I had only read about from their advertisements in the magazine-sized biweekly Sports Collectors Digest. Biweekly is one of my all-time favorite words, since it means either once every two weeks or twice a week. I would think that if you were talking about getting fed, or waterboarded, for example, it would be fairly important to try to figure out which definition was being employed.

   I do remember there were also a lot of auxiliary events taking place at the hotel in Parsippany, like seminars, exhibits (HOFer’s jerseys, the T206 Wagner, etc.) and even a Strat-O-Matic tournament, but once the show got going, I hardly got to go anywhere at all, because roughly half of the table was mine and I had to stay and man it.
   I remember I had constructed a giant wood display that held I think about 18 plastic frames (8-by-10) of the various prints I was selling at the time, along with the Baseball Greats set (shown) that was my initial entree into the hobby. I am to the art of fine woodworking as Pamela Anderson is to molecular biology, so that particular bit of plywood finery remains as perhaps my finest creation in that arena.

   In doing research after I finished this blog entry (I work in mysterious ways; most writers do the research before they hit the keyboard), I found the National Convention issue of SCD. I had a full-page ad in that Aug. 3, 1984 issue, and a “See You at the National” note included – along with the National logo – near the bottom of the page.
   Turns our, I was at Table B-22, along with The Baseball Card Stores of South Florida. Thanks for everything, even 25 years later.

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