Thursday, August 3, 2017

The NSCC - The Epic Conclusion

If all goes according to plan, you should be reading this while I am in the midst of a 13-hour long drive down to Wilmington, North Carolina.  You see, my wife's best friend just so happens to live there and we are throwing the bride to be a kick-ass bridal shower.  Of course, we're going and little early and staying a little later so that we can make a nice vacation out of the trip as well - spend some time on the beaches, get out on a boat, explore the boardwalks, run a 5k (cuz I'm nuts), and all that jazz.  All in all, it's going to be one heckuva time and I cannot wait to get there.

Speaking of having a good time, it's time to show off the last portion of my haul from the National - I wouldn't want to leave you all hanging until I got back!  In part one, I gave a general overview of what I discovered.  For part two, we took a looksie into my virtual mailbox at the postcards that I found, un-stamped and delivered into my collection.  Meanwhile, in part three, we focused solely on the Renata Galasso T260 tobacco card reprint sheets that I happened upon, which thankfully came from a smoke-free environment (unlike the set which they were aping).  You're mind must be racing, at this point, "what will we cover today?"

The answer is:  a little bit of everything.

You see, the rest of the treasures that I uncovered didn't really have an overarching theme, like those in the previous two postings.  However, sometimes the moment calls for a nice, big stew; a concoction made up of several distinct and tasty ingredients which all blend together to make one tasty meal.  So, grab yourself a big, ol' spoon - let's dig in.

Initially, after the shock and awe of actually being at the National wore off, I was beginning to fear that some of my concerns were being confirmed.  As a seriously low-end collector with ultra-niche tastes, I was afraid that there simply wouldn't be anything in my wheelhouse at this high-end, mega show.  After about an hour of walking with nothing yet to show for it, I settled for this beat up '58 Morrie Martin, found in the discount bin of a vintage dealer, for fifty cents, just to get a baseline going.  Morrie pitched in 3 games at the end of his career with the Cubbies and was already repped in my CATRC binder; that said, his rep was a reprint and I always prefer authentic, when available.  The above single may be showing it's age, but how often does one come across 60 year old cardboard for spare change?  It was something, anyway.

Luckily, it wasn't long before I came across the first adrenaline-pumping discovery of the day.

I've been chasing this Bowman card since last September... which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't that long; however, in Burbs years, that's eons!

Jake Buchanan was called up by the Cubs last call-up season to make a spot start and a mop-up bullpen appearance, in order to keep the key arms rested for their deep playoff run - he'd been signed as a minor league free agent that April.  In his lone start, he earned the W against the Reds, pitching 5 shutout innings.  This was the extent of his Cubs career.  Of course, no matter how brief a tenure, a Cubs is a Cub and a binder card was required of the former Astros farmhand.

Jake during his only Cubs start, at the Great American Ballpark 9/30/16

The problem here was that Jake's only mainstream baseball card appearance came in 2012 Bowman Chrome, a product that none of my local vendors bother with.  Not wanting to overpay for a Buchanan on the internet left my lying in a sort of purgatory, hoping a copy of this one would eventually drop into my lap.  At the National, it finally did.

While digging through a dollar box in the middle aisles of the convention hall, I found a box dedicated solely to the Astros.  Just in case, I decided to flip through, on the off-chance that this insignificant pre-rookie might be nestled amongst the Correas, Bregmans, and Kuechels.  Imagine my surprise when it actually turned up, as a beautifully shiny Chrome refractor, on top of it all.  I couldn't hand my green Washington fast enough.

All in all, that might not be an exciting find to anyone but me - but, it's my blog, sooooooo....

Speaking of things that might appeal especially to certain bloggers...

Nick, from Dime Boxes, posted last night about digging through a 10-cent box stuffed with all sorts of reprints.  I'm pretty certain that I too spent time sifting through those gems, a few days prior.  As you can see in his wrap-up, I made sure to leave plenty of good stuff behind for him.  Although, there was no way I was leaving this Dick Culler oddity behind.  While it looks like a Play Ball reprint on the surface, it's truly a "fantasy" card printed up by TCMA in 1983, a set conceptualized to fill in the gaps left behind in the 1944 original.

Culler would eventually go on to spend a year on Chicago's Northside, a fitting 48 games in 1948, near the end of the infielder's career.  I was when I uncovered this single in the handful of TCMA's stashed in the box.  I think the vendor was actually a little confused over how I could be so excited over a ten cent "reprint."

In order to get back in his good graces, I made sure to flesh out my dime box dig with a few more cards so as to get up to a full buck.  There were no more CATRC needs hidden within; but, there were plenty of these PPG Indy Car World Series singles from 1991.  As a massive Indy 500 fan, I was content to take these home with me.  In fact, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, and Duane "Pancho" Carter also competed in the NASCAR ranks, making these cards perfect additions to my corresponding binder.  Meanwhile, the Bettenhausens, one of racing's most famous families, are local legends in these parts, putting nearby Tinley Park, IL on the motorsport map.  For a dime, these racers were definitely going to be mine.

Okay, so far, I've been showcasing the "niche-iest" of my finds; I promise that we're getting to the good stuff now.  Most people loves vintage, right?  Everybody gets a kick out of oddball vintage, yes?  Good thing I ran across a dude with a small box full of discounted Mother's Cookies singles...and we're not talking about the stadium giveaways from the 80's either...

Most of us are familiar with their 80's endeavor; but did you know that the confectioners dipped their toes in the baseball waters thirty years previous?  In fact, they produced two brightly-colored, under-sized sets, in 1953 and 54, based around the old Pacific Coast League.

Thanks to their recognizable name, attractive look and inclusion of several future/former MLB'ers, these old cookie cards are kind of tough to find and expensive when they do show up.  I've seen a few of these Richards go in the range of $20-50, before shipping, based on condition - too much for one card to this cheapskate.  I almost peed myself when I negotiated the seller down to five bucks for Red Lynn up there.  That's cheaper than a pack of 2017 Stadium Club, for cryin' out loud.

Red also some brief action with the NY Giants, image courtesy of Getty

Before suiting up with the Hollywood Stars, Red tossed some war-time innings for the Cubbies in 1944.  Despite those 22 games (5-4, 4.06) being the end of his MLB career, as the cookies attest, Red hung around the pro ranks for quite a while.  In fact, he hung on until the age of 42 in 1956.  Despite his lengthy stay in our nation's pastime, the lavender beauty you see above is one of only two Lynn baseball cards to ever hit the market, making it even more of a steal for a Lincoln flash card!

The only thing that could have made the purchase even better was if it actually came with some cookies.

Had that been the end of my shopping spree, I would ended the day with an ear-to-ear grin.  But, this was the National - as long as I kept looking, I was going to keep finding.  Before I left the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, I decided to circle through the first couple of aisles, which had previously produced almost nothing for me (as previously noted), just in case.  It's a darn good thing I did too, because it allowed me to end the afternoon of baseball card hunting with an exclamation point.

It may be taped up, but this 1949 Bowman Ralph Hamner high-number set was also negotiated down to a scant five bucks.  Ummmm... yes please!

Good thing I turned out to be adept at haggling because that last five bucks completely exhausted my budget; that said, I couldn't have be happier to turn that bill over.  Ralphie here spent the '47-'49 seasons at Wrigley Field and I've been targeting this classic from 1949 for my CATRC binder for many moons; I've never seen it with a price less than 10 bucks, in any condition.  Without it, I would have never learned that Hamner's MLB career almost closed before it began, as he suffered a broken back while diving for a ball in the minors.  Ouchy!

Thankfully, I didn't break my budget on this bad boy.

With that, we've finally reached the end of my massively productive haul from the 2017 National. In the end, I was able to track down an eye-popping thirteen new additions to my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder.  For frame of reference, I consider any card show where I'm fortunate enough to uncover one new name to be a success - these are uncharted waters!  That's not even accounting for the auxiliary awesomeness that appeared alongside the roster additions.  I truly felt like a little kid after a spree through the local candy shop.  And no sugar crash afterwards!

Thank you for reading through my bragging, I just had to sing the praises of my time at the National and the blogosphere seemed like the perfect audience.  I hope you enjoyed the read half as much as I enjoyed the ride!  If you ever get the chance to go,no matter what kind of collector you are, I highly recommend that you take that opportunity.

Simply put - it's baseball card nirvana.


  1. I had no idea those TCMA Play Balls were "fantasy cards" and not actual reprints. Now I like them even more!

    Congrats on all the new CATRC finds! Looks like you had a great time at The National. It really is a special place.

  2. Rutherford signs through the mail and did for me pretty quickly.

  3. Thanks for sharing your trip experience with those who have never been!

  4. Nice pickups and thanks for sharing! Have a good trip.