I had mentioned recently that I found a great resource on the ground at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention to describe the event and the experience. RJ Reyes was kind enough to write this guest post about his experiences at the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention. Enjoy.
I overhear my friends telling me that this is simply a larger version of the local card shows that happen at the shopping mall once a month. It’s funny to hear people think that it’s a giant flea market. It may look like it, but the “flea market” part is indeed just a small part of the whole experience.
It starts Wednesday, “Sneak Peak”, early in the afternoon for the VIP and Super VIP ticket holders to pick up their various items. The buzz is electric and as the day goes on, more and more people crowd the waiting area. Here one can hear all types of sports news, controversy, and various opinions of who will win this year. Usually, the prominent colors seen are of the local favorites. (Cubs, Blackhawks, White Sox, and Bulls) If one looks hard enough, all teams from all leagues will have their backers clad in retro or modern jerseys.
As the convention continues and opens, people of all types, ages, shapes, and creeds pour into the convention hall, which looks like an endless array of sporting history. In the first few aisles, one might see vintage base collectors rummaging through vendor’s wares hoping to find that one card that would finish up that old 1960 set. Watching them, is a sport itself; their fingers quickly looking through 1000 card boxes. When finding that one card, their eyes light up, like a young child finding their favorite toy.
Another common sight is that of a young collector, staring at the cards they might have only heard about. Many times, I would hear, “Daddy look Mickey Mantle!” Just the sight of the card was exciting to them. That excitement to me, defines what collecting is about. Wide eyes, a huge smile, and a respect for the sport that is unrivaled.
Autographs and meeting the athletes is certainly one of the most awesome aspects of the convention. Superstars of yesteryear and rookies of today are all here. Meeting a hero, shaking their hand, or getting a picture with them puts a smile on people’s faces regardless of cost.
The auction sites are some of the most interesting parts. How often do you see a jersey of Lou Gehrig’s Japan Tour on display? Old gloves, pictures, balls, and anything are here. One may not be able to afford them, but to enjoy the history the article represents is amazing.
Experiences of the collectors, young and old, are swapped, and you can hear the older fans talk with just as much excitement as the seven year old about their first baseball game. Just walking around and absorbing the wealth of information is definitely awesome.
I have refrained from talking about the redemptions and the pack breaks, because more importantly than those activities, is the chance to talk to the company representatives and make your opinion known. All companies have a booth or a table or something. Most companies will take the time to answer questions about their product or products. For example, Tracy Hacklet from Panini spent the better part of an hour talking to me about the products, and what we thought were good and bad about them. Whether or not they take any of my suggestions, remains to be seen, but it was nice to think that my thoughts matter. (Thank you to Tracy!)
All in all, there is so much to do and see at the National. So much to absorb, so many different people, experiences, cards, memorabilia and so much love for everything sport, that one can’t help not being a small part of sports history just attending the convention. It is an event that any sports historian or sports fan should definitely attend.
You can find RJ Reyes on Twitter @thecardcouplene. He is a big fan of all Philadelphia sports teams and loves collecting hockey cards so make sure you check him out.