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In our last column we discussed that with the National Sports Convention announcing their sites for the rest of this decade, there will continue to be no Nationals west of the Mississippi or south of the Mason/Dixon line for nearly 15 years. While some people may wonder why about today, I was drawn to thinking about some of the older National voting meetings of the past.
The first National I attended was in 1983, and in one of these Ramblings, I referred to the Friday evening session in which the groundwork for the National by-laws was created. At the time, one of the key elements was the institution of the contiguous site and 400 mile rule. Those two rules were designed to prevent the “Midwest block” from keeping the National in the heartland. As of 1983, the National had been in Detroit followed by St. Louis and Chicago. Many of the people involved with the National understood that although that benefited many of the vendors for the show, to really grow the East Coast market had to be tapped. Thus these rules helped to cement an already existing New York area bid.
That bid, which was made by four of the leading dealers/hobby figures in the New York area (Mike Aronstein, Mike Gordon, Lew Lipset and Tom Reid) had widespread support and we expected an unanimous vote for the show. Imagine everyone’s surprise when a person from the San Francisco area showed up and make a bid for that area. I remember his bid was pretty reasonable but no one before that night had known he was going to bid so none of the details were available to us. I do not remember the young man’s name nor the exact vote but a vote for New York at about 156-21 sticks out in my memory.
If the young man had been even better prepared and really done grass roots work he might have come out of nowhere to win the National Convention. In comparison, when long-time hobbyists think of Ron Durham’s victory for the 1988 National as a surprise, the argument was that at least we knew about his bid through the hobby media.
There was a recent Net 54 message board thread about this topic and one members asked why collectors can’t vote on the matter. In the earliest days of National voting, anyone attending the meeting could vote until the rules were put in that you had to have set up at the minimum of two Nationals. Well, during that ’93 National, during the meeting for the 1994 selection, there were several bids, but one bid from Jim and Sharon Galusha (now owners of the San Luis Obispo Blues, a collegiate wood bat baseball team in the California Collegiate League) and Emil Bodenstein were told their bid was not going to be brought up for consideration. During the early part of the evening, Emil was able to bring a point of order about their bid exclusion and we began what may have been the most contentious National voting meeting I ever remember. If I recall correctly, eventually their bid was allowed to be brought to the floor and narrowly lost the Houston bid as the hours dragged on in the meeting room.
As it turned out the Houston show would end maybe a week or two before the baseball strike which turned out to be a major sea change in hobby history. I was in Nick’s Sports Cards recently and Nick commented if you could survive 1994, you could survive anything in this hobby. But in 1993, that future seemed a long-time way.
Trust me, when you return to your hotel room at 2 AM and have not eaten dinner, you are not a happy camper about long National meetings and to that poster who asked to be able to vote on future locations for the NSCC, I would just advise him to be careful for what you ask for.
We’ll have other tales of National meetings and events in the near future as a run-up for the 2013 National Convention in Chicago.