National Sports Card Convention – Part 1 (Thome, Gossage, & More)

I’ll never forget the first National I ever attended. It was the 1991 show in Anaheim, CA. Just my luck, it had the largest crowds of any National in history. I remember standing in line outside in the heat for hours to get in. I don’t remember a whole lot about the show itself, but I do remember thinking that this place was basically my mecca. I didn’t really have any money back then (I was a 12 year old welfare kid), so I probably left the show with some great memories and not much else. Now that I think about it, I think I picked up a Steve Sax signed 8×10 and a Willie Stargell signed Donruss Diamond King card. Probably some junk wax too.

I don’t think I attended another National until the Chicago show in either 2008 or 2011… maybe both. I went to a few other card shows in between, all in the 90s.

I was able to attend the show in Chicago this year. It was something of a last minute decision. It turned out I was going to be in the Chicago area on business the week after the National. So I took a few days off work and flew into Chicago on Wednesday night. By the time I knew I’d be able to attend, all VIP type passed had sold out. I was pretty bummed about that. So I ended up buying single day tickets for every day but Sunday. I pretty much slept all day on Sunday, lol.

I don’t really collect baseball cards these days. For the most part, I pick up Sox cards to get signed. I might put together Sox team sets and whatnot. But I can’t remember the last time I opened a pack of baseball cards. So I wasn’t really at the show for the cards. I was there for some of the autograph guests, and I hoped to find some Sox autographs at the tables. I’ll go over the autographs I got from the guests in this post. I’ll go through everything I picked up at the tables in another post.

Before I get to that, I guess I can talk briefly about the show. I was lucky enough to get a room at the Crowne Plaza right across the street. It seemed like every single person staying there was going to the show. I didn’t attend the show Wednesday night, but I was there about an hour after the show opened on Thursday. The place was absolutely packed. It was difficult to navigate the aisles and look at the tables. On top of that, the A/C either didn’t work or was way too weak, as it was like a sauna in there. I’m so thankful that I was staying right across the street, as after about an hour I was miserable and soaked with sweat.

So I would walk around for a bit, and then head back to the gloriously cold A/C of my hotel room. I did this off and on all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I did run in to a few notable people while walking around. I bumped in to Ron Kittle at one of the big auction house booths. He was there to discuss selling some of his sports memorabilia collection. I was happy to chat with Ron for a bit, as he’s always been a super nice guy. A couple of minor film celebrities had booths set up, and I chatted with both of them a bit as well. One was Ari Lehman, the first person to play Jason Voorhees. The other was Scott Schwartz, who played Flick in “A Christmas Story”. Both were very nice guys.

Thursday evening I went “behind the curtain” to drop my Thome items off with Sean Morgan. It’s absolutely bonkers back there. There is table after table filled with memorabilia for the athletes to sign. When I got back to Sean’s area, he was just finishing up a signing with Lawrence Taylor. I hung out until LT finished signing, and dropped off my items with Sean.

Jim Thome was the main reason I decided to attend. I need Thome on about 25-30 items. His prices are pretty high, starting at $119, so there was no way I could get everything done in one shot. I contacted Sean Morgan from Famous Ink and was able to negotiate a bit of a bulk discount, so I ended up getting 14 items done. 8 cards, 2 baseballs, 3 16x20s, and a mini helmet. I had a difficult time deciding which cards to get signed, as I could only afford 8, but needed about 20. I ended up going with his other rookie (I already have the 91 UD Final card signed), the rest of his A&G cards, three of his remaining UD cards, and one card that I just really like and thought would look cool signed.

Just about everything turned out great, though I am slightly disappointed with the signature on the Blackout 16×20 with John Danks. It’s not terrible or anything, I just wish he’d signed it with a thicker sharpie and placed the signature a bit more the lower left. Overall though, I’m very satisfied with the Thome haul.








Goose Gossage was also a signer at the National. Since I was already there, I decided to get a HOF baseball signed. Goose was friendly as always.

There were also a few VIP signers that I had some items for, but didn’t feel like they were necessarily worth the signing fee. Luckily, Donnie Macey had a deal worked out where he could get a lot of these guys for a very reasonable rate. So I sent in some items for Stan Bahnsen, Ron Kittle, and Greg Luzinski. Donnie did a great job (as always) and got them all signed perfectly.







All in all I had a great time at the show. I didn’t find anything too exciting at the booths, though I did pick up a few things that I’ll show in the next post. I did eat some great food while in town. I got more than my fill of Portillo’s, Al’s, and Giordano’s. Also, there is a Fogo de Chao right behind the hotel I was staying at. I’m not ashamed to say that I ate there twice while I was in town. Just thinking about it gives me the meat sweats all over again!

Andrew Vaughn Mini Helmet

I sent in 4 cards to the Sidsgraphs Andrew Vaughn private signing, but I also picked up a mini helmet. Mini helmets are one of my favorite things to collect, so I’m making a concerted effort to get all of the key Sox guys on them. I’m happy to cross Vaughn off of the list, though I’m not thrilled with the white pen they have started using. I much preferred the silver they used to use.

Yoan Moncada Purchases

I feel like Yoan Moncada is thiiiis close to breaking out as a legit MVP candidate. A bit more power, a bit less called third strikes, and he’s as good as anybody in the AL. He already has the second highest OBP in the league.

With that in mind, I’ve been looking to pick up some Moncada autographs. Until now, I only had two Moncada autographs. His stuff has been pretty pricey, largely based on the fact he was such a huge prospect. In recent days, I found a few good deals that I jumped on. Today I’ll be showing the four items I bought from a promoter on Facebook. Once I receive all of them, I’ll post some premiums that I got for a good price through Fanatics (with a coupon).

I’m really happy to add these items to my Moncada collection. Once I get my stuff from Fanatics, the only thing I’ll still really need is a baseball and his first Bowman Chrome refractor.

Jermaine Dye Private Signing

Five Tool Signings had a private signing with Jermaine Dye the last week of April. This may have been Dye’s first signing since retirement. When the signing was announced, I bought a bunch of cool refractors and whatnot to get signing. Of course, they didn’t arrive in time for the signing. So I sent the remaining set cards I needed him on, a couple of multi-player cards, some cool A&G minis, and a couple of nicer items. I’m very happy with how everything turned out! Hopefully they’ll have Dye again and I get the cards I ordered signed.





A Couple New Luis Robert Autographs

I’ve been torn on whether or not to pick up a bunch of Luis Robert autographs. They aren’t cheap. He could conceivably go the way of somebody like Joe Borchard, which would mean I wasted a lot of money. Or he could go the way of Mike Trout, and I’ll regret not stocking up before his signed stuff sold for multiple hundreds of dollars, just for cards.

So I’ve picked up a few things, but haven’t gone overboard. Up til now, I had splurged on a bat and his Bowman and Bowman Chrome rookie cards. I decided to add a couple more items to the collection. First, a 2020 Gypsy Queen card.

I also picked up a mini helmet.

There are five more things I definitely want to pick up at some point. I’d like to add a refractor of some kind. I definitely can’t afford his rookie refractor, but any nice refractor would do. Of course, I want his 2020 A&G card. I’d also like a 16×20. The thing is, I don’t really like any of the shots that I’ve seen available. I have been holding out for a nicer photo. Lastly, I’d like to add a gold glove baseball, and a regular ROMLB.

Albert Belle Private Signing

At some point last year I took a bit of a break from collecting.  I would say that it lasted about 3 months.  To my horror, when I checked SCN for the first time after returning, I saw that I had JUST missed an Albert Belle private signing.  He was at the top of my wantlist, and I was very upset that I had missed it. 

Well, Dana (Er21 on SCN) held another private signing with Albert this month.  I made sure to take advantage this time!  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get everything signed that I had planned.  I had two 16x20s and an 11×14 shipped straight to Dana from Adorama.  For the third time in the last couple of years, Adorama completely screwed me.  When Dana opened the package, the cardboard that the photos were sandwiched between had a crease down the middle.  Sure enough, the 16x20s had a crease down the middle as well.  Luckily, the 11×14 survived.  There wasn’t enough time to send replacement photos.  So the 16x20s, which were probably the items I most wanted signed, didn’t get signed.

That being said, I did get some nice autographs.  I got a mini helmet, baseball, 11×14, 8×10, 3 jumbo cards, and 6 cards signed.  I asked Dana to hold on to the 11×14, as he said he may be able to get some more items signed, in which case I would send more 16x20s and have them all sent back together.  I also hope to get a bat and/or jersey to send.

Here are the 12 items that have been returned thus far.  I’m not sure why 1989 Fleer cards always scan like that… the card looks great!