The reasons for coming were as varied as the people attending the 2021 National Sports Collectors Convention. After two years of waiting, it was time for the hobby’s biggest event once again.
Many think it will be the biggest show ever.
Collectors, dealers, auction companies and everyone else inside was more than eager for the afternoon opening.
Some come with cards in cardboard boxes. Others in padded cases that are usually saved for high dollar electronics. There are lots of plastic cases to hold lots of plastic slabs.
Much of the action happens before the show officially opens, thanks to dealer badges that seem to be in good supply.
There the flipper who made the trip from Florida, with a padded case of cards. He’s aiming to buy his parents a house. Like a carnival worker he lives on the road, show to show.
It’s also a show for the dozen other collectors who watch the flipper execute the deal.
At one of the card grading booths, a line of 30 people in pre-show traffic want to bypass months of delays and get semi-instant appraisal of their cards.
Another man from nearby Joliet carries a duffle bag of cards and a stack of $100 bills that could double as a builders brick.
It’s that thick, and it’s probably that heavy. Before he’s done, he’ll have more dozens of T206 cards.
He boasts, “They are all threes or better.”
As the Benjamins hit the table, it looks like it could be Miami Vice.
It could be a vice. One man is already looking for ways to sneak his purchases home before his wife finds out.
A little way over, a man and his dad are sorting through pennants. He’s in love with the triangular pieces of felt. Subtle reminders of a time of different sensibilities.
We laugh when the Atlanta Crackers and Braves are captured on the same banner. “The National is the biggest and best,” he says. Its also chance to connect with friends.
He should know his collection numbers in the thousands. It lines the walls at his office and home. He loves the art of the deal, he readily admits.
Mary is a dealer. She’s passionate about sports. Her father was a semi-pro pitcher who later used the money he used from sports to buy the family farm.
Another dealer, a farmer himself from Iowa, uses the National to pitch his business, sowing a few seeds of good will to build a network for the cardboard gold he peddles.
It’s a nice get away from raising 2,000 head of cattle.
And almost to a person, everyone says: it’s only the beginning.
Thousands – I mean – tens of thousands – if not 100,000 people are expected to flow through the doors at the Donald E Stephens Convention Center by late Friday afternoon.
Let the madness begin.