The National Sports Collectors Convention 2017

Excuse me. Which way to The National? Head south on Lake Shore Drive you want to get onto I-294 westbound, you wanna take dat until you see I-80 but what do I look like Google Maps you mook! I say that jokingly with a little bit of Chicago attitude of course.

Waiting to Exhale

The Donald E. Stephenson Convention Center hosted The National Sports Collectors Convention 2017 in Chicago.

It’s been a week or so and I can finally exhale and reflect on my experience. Several days had gone by and I was still buzzing with the wow factor.

I’m no newbie when it comes to card shows, but this National was different. There was a 19 year gap since I last attended one of these.

I had a lot of anticipation that this year’s National was going to be epic! And it most definitely was.

My kids have often made fun of me because I’m a note-taker and observer, for me if it’s not written down it didn’t happen. The following are my experiences that I can hopefully build on going forward.

Doing My Homework for The National

I took to YouTube to gain some insight because this was no ordinary card show. I needed to know who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Online articles on the topic were plentiful. Articles like The National Sports Collectors Convention – Survival Guide & The National Sports Collectors Convention Guide published by the folks over at Cardboard Connection were extremely helpful to me in putting together a game plan.

I started putting my game plan together a few months prior and by the week of the National I carved out the details:

  • 10 card submission to PSA for grading, along with a 7 card submission to re-holder due to cracked or scratched holders.
  • Drop off a 300 count box to COMC to build up my account.
  • Walter Payton RC in a PSA 7.
  • Rickey Henderson RC in a PSA 9.
  • Ozzie Smith RC in a PSA 8.
  • Purchase card supplies.
  • Look for books! (Yes, I’m a nerd and will always have my eye open for a good sports card book or autobiographies of the All-Time Greats).

That was my game plan, and I am so thankful I had that focus because there were so many amazing cards that I wanted, but there was so many distractions too.

But I was able to shake them off and stay focused because I had a plan to take my collection to the next level.

I was able to accomplish everything on my list except for the Payton RC, there were plenty of them there but only in grades that I could not afford.

I didn’t purchase the Henderson either because I couldn’t find one with the centering I wanted. I’m picky about the centering, especially in the front. So what do I do with all this spare cash?

“Plan B” for The National Was Definitely Needed

Yes, my plan entailed a Plan B. Certified autographed cards! As I shifted my attention to plan B things got really exciting as my wife and I started sifting through boxes looking for autos of HOF’s and we had a blast!

Moreover, I have a new-found love for TTM autographs (Through the Mail) especially the ones that have been Authenticated by PSA/DNA.

I have already begun sending out my request to certain players. It has definitely re-ignited my passion for autographs.

The National – Some Things I Didn’t Like

By nature, I’m a very optimistic person but as I previously mentioned, I’m also an observer.

Some negatives that I noticed was the enormous amount of showroom floor space that Panini and Upper Deck consumed.

They were decorated beautifully. But there was no action. The only thing I saw was an absence of passion, emotion, and excitement. A lack of interest to engage the consumer.

Now giving them the benefit of the doubt I was there only 2 of the 5 days. I was really upset with the Snack Bar too, I had a pretzel one day and a hot dog the next, my takeaway on this – never again!

And while we’re on the subject of food I heard from many people that they were looking forward to coming so they can indulge in some world-famous Chicago style deep dish pizza.

But the primary supplier of that famous pizza did not deliver on that promise and many had horrible experiences with service and orders.

Encouraged With the State of the Hobby

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As you can see the lines were long to get in. I was encouraged because the hobby is alive and well.

The number of people in attendance, the atmosphere of excitement everywhere you looked, groups of kids on the sidelines busting open packs, live pack wars, the corridor of Group Breakers doing live breaks, the line up of phenomenal signers, set builders with their checklist in hand and there wasn’t a single card dealer that didn’t expect to negotiate prices.

I didn’t have a single offer denied. My most memorable moment of The National was my first day, which was Friday. I walk in and got in line. The people in front of me were a great group of guys with YouTube Channels that I am subscribed to.

I got a chance to meet: Nate from topps85401 who also is co-host to BaseballCardJunkiesTV,  Aaron Davis who has a really cool channel and specializes in the history of certain players of the game like Negro Leagues era and HOF Rookies among other topics.

And let me not forget MikeO – he specializes in baseball cards and I’ve been binge-watching his channel lately. These You Tubers along with others all met at the National most of them for the very first time. Very cool.

Next year The 39th National Sports Collectors Convention will be in Cleveland, Ohio on August 1st-5th and I can’t wait! I bid you farewell and leave you with a few of my favorite pickups. PC NFS/NFT.

Happy Collecting Collectors,

Learn. Collect. Enjoy.

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