We tried to play it safe and smart Friday and just decided to give into the fact that we weren’t going to park very close to the convention center. We opted for a parking garage a few blocks away and made the trek up to the NSCC.
Again, much like yesterday, we tried to make a point to hit certain areas of the floor or certain stands or booths that we didn’t see much of to this point. Surprisingly (or not based on the sheer size of the show) we stumbled on to an entire small section of the floor that we hadn’t seen at all, including some well known vendors. To see them all and recognize most of the businesses is really just a great example of the massive nature of this beast. How did I possibly miss My Slabs, Grand Slam, Kruk Cards and others to this point? What I am saying is, don’t feel bad if things fall through the cracks, it happens to the best of us.
Many times at a card show its not about hitting up the big boys but rather about finding that shop or dealer you didn’t know about and striking up a conversation and, who knows, maybe even a nice purchase. One of our early stops was Sports Hit which was a booth that caught my eye due to the sheer number of higher end basketball rookies in the showcases.
We spoke to the gentleman at the booth and he was a real character, joking with my wife and me for a good bit of time. It was a real fun interaction and a great way to start the day.
Shortly after that, I literally bumped into baseball Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven. I had spoken to Bert a few times in the past and interviewed him on occasion, so it was nice to finally see him in person say hello.
We then made our way to the auction house portion of the floor and saw some gems at Memory lane, Leland’s and some other high end auction establishments. The majority of show attendees aren’t making super high end purchases at these tables but its nice to be able to see many of these Hall of Fame and museum quality items up close and personal. You could literally find whatever you’re looking for within these four walls, from the obvious cards and memorabilia to non-sports and anything in between.
We saw an autographed Tiger Woods event worn shirt, a Monica Lewinsky related letter signed by Bill Clinton and a Los Angeles Lakers championship ring all within feet of each other. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I wanted to make a point to spend some time at the Tri Star autograph pavilion as some of the big names were signing today. I managed to witness some great behind the scenes interactions between athletes behind the red white and blue curtain as well.
Droves of fans lined up to see Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, Pittsburgh Pirates legendary outfielder Dave Parker, cult hero Brian Bosworth, pro basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton, Pro Football Hall of Famer and Dallas Cowboys legend Tony Dorsett, among others were in attendance. Dorsett was the most interactive and personable of the bunch, offering big smiles, big reactions and a great experience for those that waited in long lines just for a moment of his time. Most likely the biggest star of the show for this round of autographs was Philadelphia 76ers hero and cultural icon Allen Iverson. I was on hand as he made his entrance and sat down and signed the first autograph for his young fan, which was a nice experience.
I also saw Allen Iverson signing for some kids whose only knowledge of him must come from watching YouTube videos.
I also spent some time backstage and got to witness some other legends signing autographs for TriStar and getting ready for their appearances. Its very interesting to see the process from all sides.
We made a stop at the booth that houses the PSA 10 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. With the SGC 9.5 mint plus getting ready to break every auction record with a sale expected north of $10 million, there are debates on the show floor about which card is more perfect and should sell for more. Both cards have been attracting a lot of visitors at the show.
Luckily, I bumped into my buddy Cassius Marsh at about that very moment and we got to chop it up for a few minutes. I know people have said this for the last 42 years but it’s great to see some of these people in person that you might only see once or twice a year. He’s as passionate about cards as he is about playing in the NFL.
Aside from the endless buying, selling and trading options, it all comes back to the great people and relationships built this week and throughout the rest of the year. The show is a celebration of sports cards and memorabilia but, most importantly, a celebration of the great people in the hobby.
Our night definitely ended in style as we had dinner with run RUN TMC, as they were in town to promote a RUN TMC expansion pack for NBA Flex product that each of the gentlemen is involved in. That great group, of course, consists of the Hall of Fame trio of Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin who are Golden State legends. Growing up as a 90s basketball kid this was special to be able to sit, have dinner and conversate with these three Hall of Famers.
It was special to be in the room as the stories were flying around between these three great who haven’t appeared together in decades. Mitch Richmond made you feel like you are a lifelong friend. Chris Mullin is as personable as anyone you could imagine and Tim Hardaway really got a smile on his face when I started talking about his Nike Air Raid kicks that I wore every day back in the day.
After a pretty long day we decided to head back to our hotel for the rest of the weekend and enjoy some R&R before doing it all again on Saturday.
For full coverage of the 2022 National, check out our special section.