This weekend, I decided to attend the third annual GTSM card and autograph show, held for the second straight year at the Irving Convention Center. I attended this show in a very old school way which was by taking the DART train to the show. Depending on where you live, some shows are just as easily attended by riding a train as by driving. Last year after the long and somewhat arduous drive I noticed the train station as I was leaving and promised I’d take it next time. Another example of a show which could be attended by train is the one held at the White Plains Convention Center.
I walked around and only really spent time at two tables during my time at the show. The first table was Larry Dluhy's who was busy puttering around and I did not want to bother him but as I was leaving he called out, "How is the show promotion business?” I teased Larry and told him and I would hit him up for some door prizes/silent auction items to for our next Plano show and hold a table for him.
Larry was responsible for bringing long-time Cowboys' star Cornell Green to sign autographs at the show. Cornell was always a great story as Gil Brandt, the Dallas player personnel guru saw something and thought he could play in the NFL. Darned if he was not correct and Green had a long career in the league, spanning from the mid-1960s through the mid-70s. He is the brother of Pumpsie Green who was the first black player on the Boston Red Sox, the last major league team to have a person of color play for them.
Larry also informed me that two long-term stalwarts of the Dallas area hobby have passed away: John Marcus, who had been married to the late show promoter Wanda Marcus and Jim Kuykendall, who promoted many shows and knew the Mantle family well enough to bring Mickey in for several appearances.
Then I stopped at good hobby friend Roger Neufeldt's table. I've talked to Roger on a lot of occasions but this was the first time I realized he is truly a hobby lifer who began just about the same time Topps did. It seems his aunt owned a general store and he convinced her early in 1953 to order the last series of ’52 Topps as the company overstocked and trying to unload them. Those packs were, as it turned out, the 1952 high numbers, and Roger told the story of how he and his friends opened eight boxes of them the first day his aunt got them in her store. Roger still has his original beat-up set to this day.
The funniest part was he followed this up by asking me what I knew about Gordon Taylor. Apparently Gordon had the information on who received these cards and he traced Roger as the owner and offered him 10 cents each but said he wanted EVERY one of these cards Roger had. Well, Roger did keep a few but told me he sold a considerable amount to Gordon at around a dime each back in the late 1950's.
The people who were helping Roger are also loyal readers of these columns, especially when we discuss old cards and we had a nice chat about the 1964 Topps Curt Flood I wrote about a few weeks ago.
I also heard another story about a difficult high number card. We know the 1966 Topps Grant Jackson has taken off and almost gained mythical status as a tough high number but many collectors wonder why card #544 Cardinals rookies seem to also be a challenge to find, especially in higher grades (you can see what they're going for here). One of the players on that card is George Kernek, who is now a successful insurance agent. It was his only big league card.
Roger Neufeldt knows George and told me many years ago, George decided to buy as many of his card as he could as long as the price was right. Roger estimated that George has taken more than over 100 of those cards out of circulation. And with a tough 1966 high number, 100 cards out of circulation is a significant amount.
Roger also told a story about a buying trip he and his cousin took to Kansas City circa 1973. His cousin, who had more money, was also given a large advance from his dad (Roger's uncle) and thus when they bought so many cards that Roger ran out of money, his cousin got to keep almost all of the cards they bought on Sunday. Roger remembered one of those items was a complete caramel card set from the early 20th century. Who knows what else was in those Sunday goodies?
While all this was going on, Roger was still having a good show as by the time I had left on Saturday he said he had made at least five sales of $500 or more and I saw a $215 sale out of his discount box to another customer.
As for me, I found a table with $5 boxes which are, for me, always hard to resist. While most of the boxes were of the overproduction era there were a couple of boxes I thought would be interesting to open: 1994 Score II Hobby and the 1995 Donruss Series One.
The 1994 Score box had the Gold Star parallels and I pulled the Barry Bonds/Juan Gonzalez Cycle insert card but I also got a Ken Griffey Jr. Stars card. The 1995 Donruss box said “Look for hot packs with the complete Long Ball Leaders set”. Well, about the fourth pack I opened was one of those hot packs. I never lose the fun of being a ‘pack ripper’. The hardest part of the train ride back was not being able to open those packs until I got back home.
So, the show was much better than two years ago but not quite as good as last year's. I will also say the $10 admission was way too steep and I think there would have been a bigger crowd with a smaller fee.
And on a totally unrelated note, fellow Beckett alumnus Jeff Allison posted a You Tube video on my page by a group called the Baseball Project. Many of The members of this group were in the seminal group REM, which produced the early 1990's single ‘Losing my Religion’. The Baseball Project has created more than 60 baseball songs, one of which is specifically about baseball cards. It’s the first time I can remember baseball cards mentioned since Chicago's big hit Old Days. The Baseball Project has a YouTube channel and I have to say the music is really good—and the quality of the baseball stories/lyrics makes it even better.