If you are a collector in the Chicagoland area, there was no shortage of events vying for your attention this weekend.
In Rosemont, we had the gigantic Fanatics Authentics "Sports Spectacular" show with hundreds of vendors and enough former/current athletes being paid to scribble their name to fill a football roster. Meanwhile, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (or C2E2, for those in the know) was being held concurrently at McCormick Place (just south of downtown Chicago) and attracting another humongous audience.
However large crowds make me anxious, giant card shows rarely provide anything of use to this ultra-niche collector and I did not have an acceptable cosplay to be seen at C2E2... nor am I much of a comic guy anyway. Thus, neither of these choices were overly appealing to me when it came to spending my Sunday afternoon.
Luckily, there was a much lower profile event going on in the nearby county of Kankakee:
Collector Con is nowhere near the level of those other two, previously named conventions; however, with less distractions and no unofficial dress code, this seemed like the logical choice for me to search out new collector's items - aka baseball cards.
Kankakee is starting to edge out into the country portion of the Land of Lincoln and many collectors were naturally drawn to the high profile events in the area. Nevertheless, there was still plenty of collectibles to gander at:
As you can plainly see, this joint was hardly dead. Luckily, it was that perfect balance of quantity of vendors vs. potential customers and I didn't constantly feel like I was in someone's way. Perfection.
That said, trading cards weren't the star of the show here - this convention was much more heavily tilted towards the comic book genre. In fact, one even got to chose a free comic book from a beat up, old folding table after paying their $3 entry fee. Now, since I'm not much of a comic book guy anymore (I went through a rabid phase in my early adolescence), I snatched up the first one that came close to catching my interest:
As a Blackhawks fan and Chicago resident, this is clearly the wrong member of the Hull family in my eyes; that said, the fact that "Golden Brett" got his own comic book series piqued my curiosity enough to use up my freebie on this McDonald's promotion.
Available for purchase at St. Louis-area McDonald's in 1994, what I have here is issue number one of four in a series where the younger Hull is sent into the future to fight hockey goon villains or some such goofiness.
More importantly, it was filled with gratuitous product placement:
Real subtle there - I highly doubt Brett grabbed chicken nuggets from Mickey D's every morning as part of his game-day ritual. I don't think I could function with that much fast food in my system, let alone a professional athlete.
Still, this was worth enough laughs for the price it came to me at (again, gratis).
Amongst the tables upon tables jammed packed with action figures, comic back issues, Star Wars figurines, Ninetendo games, et al., there was still a fair amount of sports memorabilia. One of the first such vendors I came across had a nice selection of John Hancock's from local heroes, including this particular piece here:
Whooaaaaaaaa - this was something I'd definitely never seen before. This in-person auto from the catcher of the infamous 1969 Cubs and the pseudo-contending Chicago teams of the late 60's/early 70's is on some sort of regional, newspaper sponsored card set. There is no copyright date anywhere, any indication of this was a Cub-centric set or otherwise and the back is blank. In short, I have no idea what the story is on this product and the internet hasn't proven helpful whatsoever.
One thing the internet was helpful with though was identifying whether or not this was a genuine auto of the iron-man catcher. After examining some certified examples of his penmanship, I felt pretty comfortable that this was no phony. But, I was subconsciously cringing when I inquired on the price, as I expected a massive hometown markup.
Seems like a match to me
The cost? Five bucks. Five bucks for an autographed card from a seemingly rare, regional oddball of a local sentimental and fan favorite? TAKE MY MONEY!!1!
Now, honestly, if that was the only item I found worth purchasing out of the entire convention, I still would have been a happy camper. Any new autograph I can add to my collection is quite welcome to this low-budget collector and oddball cards are the best cards. However, there was still ground to cover.
After stopping by a few other card-centric tables, I thought that was going to be the case. One was wed to his Beckett, another's baseball card stock had been sucked dry, the next never had any baseball to begin with and on it went. But, I had money burning a hole in my pocket and Randy was looking pretty lonely in his topholder. Luckily, there was one more cool find to be made at the last vendor I hit up:
Another autograph, this one of young Cubs arm Carl Edwards, Jr., who was just optioned to AAA Iowa a few days ago. The signature hails from the most recent edition of Panini's Donruss reboot and, unlike the base set, is quite visually appealing.
The rainbow foil looks quite nice in hand and Panini did a good job here of hiding their lack of a license. While it may be a sticker auto, it's still a pretty card of a guy who doesn't have much in the way of certified product.
I plopped down another Abraham Lincoln flash card on this one; probably an overpay, but still comfortably within my budget and, to be completely truthful, I just wanted to buy something else. Both of these inked additions will make for nice upgrades in my Cubs All-Time Roster collection.
After the Edwards find, there wasn't much else that truly caught my eye. Sure, I could have made some half-baked, nostalgia fueled purchases that I would have inevitably regretted a few hours later. I was content with my day and I felt like the convention was worth the trip. Plus, for filling out a survey, I also got this nifty, pin-like magnet as well:
This will come in handy - I need something to hold up the shopping list on the refrigerator anyway.
Furthermore, I discovered the existence of an event that I might just have to add to my itinerary, courtesy of the following flier I found strewn about:
Morris is one of my fiancee's favorite places to spend a lazy weekend day and free just so happens to be my favorite price - I might just be able to swing this. Oh... and I guess Carlos May is pretty cool too, though I'm not usually one to pay for someone's autograph.
So, all in all, this was an exceptionally awesome way to wrap up the weekend; two new autographs at reasonable prices plus a goofy, free comic book and I wrapped it all up with a plate of cookies and a rough n' tumble Blackhawks v. Wild tilt on the TV. I'll take that any day.
Just another "conventional" weekend here in Chicagoland!