NOTE: more photos will be added this week including the 8x10 and 11x14 photos.
|A view of the show floor.|
Saturday: Dad, Bobby Hull, and Johnny Football
Fortunately it was an awesome weekend that had bonuses beyond just attending the National, starting on Saturday. My dad came down to the show in the morning, and we went down to check it out. The first place we went was the Panini booth so I could show him a few of the products I've been involved in. I even got a few boxes to show him, breaking some 13-14 Contenders, Titanium, and Crown Royale hockey. I had a few nice pulls, it was great seeing the stuff I worked on, and my dad seemed pretty impressed by the stuff going on in the card world.
However, we were able to hit up a bunch of tables and I got to talk to a few people who could help me with some of my sets. I also bought a bunch. Saturday is the first day you really start to see prices occasionally drop and I foune one that had done so. Originally they had a bunch of cards at $6 or 5 for $25. They dropped them to $4 and 7 for $25. And they had a bunch I needed. For $41, I knocked out 6 for my football set, 3 for baseball, and picked up 2 I just wanted. There were some tough signers included in there as well. At another, I picked up a bunch, mostly basketball, at 3 for $1, as well as some Avs for my wife.
|A few set hits|
|A typical autograph line. Or a piece of it.|
So while everything was going on, I went over and asked the aforementioned acquisitions guy if there was any chance I could get a photo with Manziel. As the only Browns fan at Panini (as far as I know), I figured I'd have a decent shot. About 15 minutes later, he told me to follow him to the back. After doing a quick interview and a couple photos, Manziel walked over, I got introduced, quickly told him I'm a huge Browns fan working at Panini and would love a photo with him. Manziel could not have been more accommodating. It would be easy for someone in his position to roll his eyes a bit and say "Alright, whatever, let's get this over." But he didn't: he seemed genuinely happy to meet a fan of the team, shook my hand, and posed for a picture, which I posted Saturday night/Sunday morning. I seriously spent the next 30 minutes wondering if that really just happened.
Sunday: The end of a week-long collectibles bender
I was pretty wiped out Sunday morning, but I still had autographs to get and money to burn. I got Jeff Burroughs on my 11x14 photo (soon to be signed by Tom Grieve as well) and Gary Bell on an 8x10 photo. He added "Smoke em inside" to it as well per my request, quoting his line to Jim Bouton in Ball Four when Bouton asked him how to pitch to guys in a team's lineup. That was Bell's answer for every single one. In the afternoon, I added Mike Hargrove on a 11x14 photo that he had never seen before, and Len Barker on several items-- my Tom Browning ball (completing a dual-signed by the only two pitchers to toss a perfect game in an Ohio MLB game since World War One), two cards (one for Chris), and a 11x14, celebrating the final out of the perfecto.
|Grabbed two of Fedor. That's trade bait!|
|Everyone gets a photo with the Stanley Cup.|
Cool people do it with the Hart Trophy.
On Monday I headed down to The Jake to try my hand at the players' parking lot. I had pretty decent success-- at least a whole lot better than Arlington. Ryan Raburn signed 2 cards just after I arrived, followed by 3 from Bryan Shaw, 3 from Marc Rzepczynski, 3 from Mike Aviles, 3 from John Axford, and 1 from David Murphy. I wish the Rangers had easier access to players like this. The players' lot in Cleveland is fenced in and outdoors so it's easy to see them come and go and to call out to them as they walk to the door. I stuck around and checked out the game as well with a guy from the show that I met on the hotel shuttle. Good game, Tribe took it to the Reds 7-1 as Corey Kluber once again had a great game. I also surpassed the 50% mark on my goal of 1500 sigs for the year.
|The haul from the parking lot. Could have had Reds too|
if I was any good at ID'ing them.
Tuesday I mostly spent driving around Lake County. I tried to get in at my old high school but the driveway was under construction so I couldn't get in. I did go to my old elementary/middle school at least, which is now owned by a college nearby. I also drove around a few areas mentioned in an article I read on Dustin Spaller, a local athlete who was murdered in his early 20's. I never knew Dustin: he was a few years older than me but we attended the same school briefly. Our moms worked together at the local hospital. Of the places mentioned in the article, Just Teazin' was down the street from my house, I played Little League ball in Rec Park, we used to fill up at the BP station a lot, but Tony's is in what I had always heard was a pretty sketchy neighborhood. I drove around it a bit and it wasn't any worse than some areas I've been through, like Boston's Combat Zone, anything on the MBTA Orange Line, or a few areas of Wichita Falls. From the outside in the daytime it looks like just another bar or Italian restaurant. Granted, after something like this the area may have been cleaned up a bit-- signs are posted that the place is under 24-hour surveillance. I drove by my old house for a bit and it's almost unrecognizable. New siding, new windows, if I didn't know the location and the shape of it like the back of my hand, I never would have known I had lived there for nearly 20 years. Show me a photo with zero context and I wouldn't know.
Fortunately a lot of things are still around. Most of the businesses I know are there or have expanded and moved. Mr. P's Pizza is gone, as is the Donut Stop, but taking their place are a barbecue joint and a cupcake shop. Downtown, Puritan Bakery closed up, but the old Cards & Games from the Painesville Shopping Center moved in. I stopped in and picked up a box of 1988 Score baseball just for the hell of it. At the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, it seems like every store space is filled. There are only a couple openings and the mall appears to be doing very well. I hit East Coast Frozen Custard for the first time in ten years, later finding they had opened a new branch at the Mentor-Painesville line. Dick's Sporting Goods moved to the mall, and a card shop is also open near it. I stopped in and talked to one of the proprietors for a while and left him my card.
The business card worked well all week. I found a few people who may be able to help me out and I them. I already found one auto for a guy who is collecting all the Fleer sets signed. I also may have a guy for signed hockey stuff.
To finish things out, I went to my dad's place on Tuesday and he told me he was giving me all his old cards. He didn't have many: most of his collection had been sold to a friend years ago. At one point he said he had nearly every card from the late 50's and early 60's. All he had left are the 1962 and 1963 Topps cards we found in Grandma's attic before she moved into an assisted living home in 1992. And now 22 years later, he was passing them down to me. Here are a few photos...
|Click to enlarge; Brunet lived next door to my dad in the 60's.|
|The mailbox was busy while I was away.|
Anyways, it was an amazing week and I can't wait to do it again, whether it's in the next three years for Chicago and Atlantic City or in 2018 in Cleveland again. At the very least, now the planning starts for hockey season along with the end of baseball. I'm sure I'll be cutting back on baseball a bit but we'll see. At the very least, I've been told I should consider hitting Frisco this weekend.
I may also write a full-week recap of this on SCF or elsewhere. We'll see.
|Until next time, Cleveland.|