Last Sunday, I made my way to Orland Park, IL for the Sports Cards and More Show, which takes place every month at the community's Civic Center. It's a show that I've been circling on my calendar on a fairly regular basis for a couple of years now and it has rarely failed me in terms of intrigue. As an added bonus, Nick from Dime Boxes also makes his way down from the North Side to attend this show every now and then, as well. On this particular occasion, we were able to meet up and take in the local cardboard cuisine together. All in all, that was enough to make the trip worth the effort.
Thank goodness it was, since the show itself was kind of a disappointment for me this time around. While Nick was finding vintage Jackie Robinsons and Stan Musials for bargain basement deals, I was striking out at almost every vendor that we patronized. I suppose that shouldn't complain too much though, as I achieved the main objective that I had set before walking out the door - securing the '17 Heritage High Number singles that I needed for my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection:
At the very first table I visited upon walking through the Civic Center doors, I came across a dime box of common singles from the newly-released set addendum. Mike Montgomery and Brett Anderson were honored with their first Cubs cards in this checklist and so they had been circled as my top targets as soon as the list was released to the public. Brett was a short-lived and temperamental experiment who was already long gone by the time HHN hit shelves; so, I was pleasantly surprised he ended up with any card with the proper shade of blue. Furthermore, while Mike has only been around for about a year and a half, the first North Side card for the guy who recorded the final out of their 2016 World Series title still felt long overdue.
So, I was extremely happy to knock those two needs right off of the bat, for a dime a pop, at that. However, after that was a loooooooooooooooong stretch of nada. Even after I finally tracked down Nick, his dime box mojo was, unfortunately, not rubbing off on me. In the midst of our cardboard adventure, Nick mentioned that he had just put an envelope with my name on it in the mail. This immediately piqued my interest, as a mailing from Nick is always a treasure trove of trading card gold.
I suppose that little nugget of information made it a little bit easier to call it a day on the card show without making anymore significant acquisitions. Sometimes that's just how the cookie crumbles - at least I knew something cool was coming my way in the near future.
By Tuesday afternoon, Nick's yellow, padded mailer was already in my clutches and, boy oh boy, did it ever make up for the card show let down. I mean, just look at the cardboard gems that he dug up for me:
According to the note that Nick included, a large chunk of the cards came from the mythical penny boxes and super cheap unopened packs/boxes that he had recently uncovered at his local flea market. In that flea market haul, Nick obviously uncovered a ton of forgotten and off-kilter 90's releases, including Topps Laser, Pacific Online, and Pacific Omega. Does it really get any more 90's than Laser or anything Pacific?
Turning back the clock a little further, there was also a stash of vintage cardstock to behold too:
That Dick Ellsworth, in particular, is a beauty - a sunny cloudless sky in spring training, where hope springs eternal, while Dick poses in pristine home pinstripes on the green outfield grass. That card is definitely replacing whatever was sitting in Ellsworth's CATRC pocket before.
Also, it should be noted that the '75 George Mitterwald is a buyback, in case you didn't notice the silver foil stamp in the upper right corner. Clearly George is also stunned by the beauty of the Ellsworth single, as he appears to be wiping a tear away from his eye. I feel ya, Georgie.
The entirety of the mailing wasn't all retro though, as there was a smattering of current releases included, as well. This past August, I made my way to two separate card shops (with my wife too) to pick up several packs of the special National Baseball Card Day cards. Sadly, I did not end up with any of the Cubs from that set; thankfully, Nick stepped up and amended that disappointment, in much the same way he fixed my card show let-down.
Meanwhile, there were also a pair of Rob Zastryzny's to keep Jake the Snake company. Rob Z seems to be Topps choice for designated Cubs rookie in 2017, as he has appeared in nearly every product to hit stores this season; last year, it was a then untested Carl Edwards. I'm guessing that the lefty was Topps pick due to the fact that he was added to the NLCS roster last fall. No matter the motivation, the Chrome rookie card and the 1987-style insert that you see above are still dueling over which will get the honor of repping Z in my CATRC binder. As of now, the wood grains have the edge - what do you think?
From there, the rest of the package was composed mostly of...
...forgotten brands (love the dichotomy of the Cubs uni on a Sox card, btw)...
...minor league cards (bonus points on the indy league Bullinger)...
...and reprints. However, those two Play Ball re-imaginings on the bottom aren't actually true reprints - they're really more of a fantasy issue. You see, back in the early 80's TCMA produced a set of cards intended to fill in the gaps that the 1940 Play Balls didn't cover, including Lou "The Mad Russian" Novikoff and Phil Cavaretta. The reason I know all of this is because I have encountered these cards before... actually... I've encountered these very same two cards before... hmmmm. When I re-read Nick's note, I put two and two together.
Many of the cards tat didn't come from his penny box exploits came from his discount box digs at the National, an event that I too attended. In fact, I saw these two singles in one of those discount boxes at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and nearly pulled the trigger, but was forced to put them back due to severely limited funds. Is it possible that these two cards are the very same ones? What a happy and strange coincidence that would be!
And that about covers Nick's ever-so-generous mailing - as you can see, it was like card show in a bubble mailer.
All told, this mailer included a bunch of off-the-wall fun stuff, several cards which supplanted previously occupied spots in my CATRC, a card which I chased through a pair of card shops on Nat'l Basbeall Card Day, and, to top it all off, quite possibly the very same two cards that I had to leave behind at the National. On the other hand, the Sports Cards and More Show provided me a pair of Heritage High Number needs. I don't think I need to explain which one turned out to be the better haul.
My thanks go out to Nick for the amazing trade package which more than made up for the card show disappointment. I can only hope that the cards I sent your way add up to at least a fraction of as much awesome as the one you sent mine.
Simply put, the man's trade stocks are better than the aisles of a vendor show. Awks.