Rich’s Ramblings: Shows Past and Present

by Rich Klein

We’re truly ‘rambling’ this week since not a lot of the pieces fit together in one neat package. It’s what our editor might call a ‘news and notes’ sort of thing.

For those of you who follow this column (and for that I’m very grateful)), you have probably read about the small monthly local card show in Allen, TX. on the third Saturday of each month. This past weekend, I was able to attend that show for the first time in several months and thankfully it was doing fine.

I arrived about 1:30 and there were about 15 people in the room which for the size of the room is quite sufficient and the dealers all seemed to be rather occupied with buying or selling cards. Everyone seemed to be doing well enough and even the collectors all seemed to be enjoying the day. As I have written previously, the promoters of the show do a decent job with what they have. They have a web site, an active emailing list and the shows are free admission. For what this show is, that is all I can ask for.

When I arrived, one of the regulars from Triple Crown Cards in Plano greeted me and then one of the promoter/dealers mentioned that his $1 box was actually a 50 cent box. I had seen a few jersey cards and signed cards (best player Jacoby Ellsbury) when I had looked to kill time upon arrival so I picked up a few of those cards and my fellow collector purchased some 2012 Topps Heritage inserts from the same box. I really felt like the old days in picking up those cards because I realized I was buying cards either for my own inventory or specifically to send to for inventory purposes.

Then walking around the room I saw a person with cards from the 1960’s and 70’s at $1 each. I purchased a few high numbers and the dealer even was nice enough to give me a small discount. So on that end the show worked for me.

After the show, I went down to Triple Cards to pick up some supplies. The owner and I were discussing the show and how I had seen several of his customers at the show. To the owner’s credit he understands that good shows can only help his shop in the long run but we started talking about security issues at shows.

That’s when my mind flashed back more than 30 years ago to late 1981.

The very first CPU (Card Prices Update) show was held at some hotel in Manhattan and I was out on the town with a couple of college buddies. And for those who don’t know, CPU is not a computer related term. It was the name of an early card pricing magazine printed on newsprint. In many ways that show as the first of what is now called an autograph show. Somehow the subject of the show came up and I said, ‘you know, we’re only a block from the hotel, I’ll show you where the show is’.

Well, I’m glad I can still sleep well at night because to my surprise we took the elevator up to the now closed show floor and I realized there was no security. I could have left that room that evening a very wealthy young man with all the material available. Some shows, such as the National and the old Gloria Rothstein shows had incredible overnight security. This one… not so much. And I, frankly, was not surprised to hear of all the thefts from that specific show. That issue was fixed for future shows but imagine my surprise at how easy it was to walk in that evening.

Not related to any of this was the time I went on my dime along with a couple of Beckett guys to New Orleans for a day at the Super Bowl show. I enjoy events like that and had a good time when Dallas hosted the event last year. But somehow we were talking about Hank Stram in a trivia chat room and that triggered the story about how while in a cab with fellow Beckett guys Dan Hitt, Pat Blandford and Theo Chen, we spotted Hank Stram walking around the Big Easy while our cab was stopped at a red light. I don’t remember how we got his attention, but I do remember Theo, who would later leave Beckett and run his own autograph business, getting Stram’s autograph on what we thought were two separate pieces of paper. I wish I remember how we did that but the story of Hank’s toupee made us laugh for years.

And speaking of card shows, I heard recently from a long-time promoter who had not been active for a while. He told me I had encouraged him to see if getting back into it. If that occurs, I will be posting details when appropriate and will also be looking forward to such a show.

The other funny thing was that I was working on cleaning up and pricing material in my “office” or “man cave” today when I picked up what I thought were a couple of cheap late 80’s hoops sets to put prices on. To my surprise, those boxes contained some 1961 and 1966 Topps baseball that I had picked up in auctions. I had forgotten all about those cards. You hear those stories all the time but I never realized just how true they could be until I did that to myself. Sorting them took up most of the rest of Sunday and I’ve been working on it ever since. . Nice find, but, geez you’d think I would have remembered nice lots like that.

Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]