Monday, September 14, 2009

Card Show Report: Steal of a Lifetime?

As a baseball card blog writer, I feel it's my responsibility to inform my readers about current gatherings of fellow collectors. This past Sunday, I was able to attend my preferred card show of the two regularly operating in the Milwaukee area, the Gonzaga Hall Show.

The "Hall" designation is somewhat of a misnomer. The show is actually held on the grounds of a Catholic church, St. Aloysius. Since it takes place during a stretch of time spanning Sunday morning and afternoon, the parking lot is usually crammed full of cars. Picture it, churchgoers and collectors jockeying for position. To avoid the gridlock, I always park on the street about a block away from the church property. The guy you see in the green shirt and baseball cap had the same idea. I'm guessing he was going to the show, not Mass. In search of Padres, not padres, I guess. (Yeah, it took me about two seconds to think of that one.)

Once inside, you pay your dollar and then head for what could only be a Catholic grade school cafeteria. An auction is taking place from the word "go," and it's kind of overwhelming once you get in the door. The choicest tables, the first ones you pass on either side, sell Brewers memorabilia and vintage set fillers, respectively. The vintage table is way too vintage for me, so I press on.

I scanned the tables, and, knowing I had very little money to spend, I found a couple of 3,000-count dime boxes. With my spot staked out and want list in hand, I hunkered down, determined to go through at least half of the available cards. There was one stretch of maybe a thousand early-'80s Topps football cards, but I had to stick to the plan. At this table, I paid fifty cents for one 1982 Topps card I needed, some nice Cecil Cooper cards I didn't have, and maybe something else to fill out my four-bits worth. Here's the '82:
1982 Topps #162 '81 Home Run Leaders

The back of this card is staggering. Not only were the four guys with the small picture the co-AL leaders (with 22 apiece), but if you played in the NL, 13 home runs was enough to get you in a tie for tenth place (Ron Cey, Jose Cruz, and Dale Murphy shared the distinction). Strike be danmed, those are low totals, making Schmidt's 31 all the more impressive.

Here are the Coopers:
1981 Donruss #83, 2003 Topps All Time Fan Favorites #103

The vintage powder blue is beautiful on the Donruss card, and the Fan Favorites card displays a depth of Brewer blue that didn't quite shine through on the initial 1980 Topps offering. On a related note, Cooper just lost sole possession of the Brewers single-season RBI title, as Prince tied his 1983 mark on Sunday.

As I got deeper into the show, I discovered several dealers trying to get rid of late-'70s/early-'80s commons for dirt cheap. I left the show needing only three cards to complete my set. I can taste it, and it is sweet. It smells a little musty, though.

Yes, that is pen on the Dick Drago. Sometimes you just need to test the ink in your pen before using it and the envelope from a water bill is not immediately on hand. Most of our second choices for this task are Dick Drago cards.

The only true star card I came in needing was the George Brett. A kindly dealer helped locate one for me. Here he is in his chaw-ful immortality.

Having knocked a nice chunk of older stuff off my list, I decided to snap a quick photo. As you can see, the clientele is exceedingly white, overwhelmingly male, and undeniably awkward. If memory serves me right, those unattended cases in the foreground were full of racing cards. Not popular in this part of the country, especially not on the first Packer Sunday. Attendance was good, though I shudder to think of the barren wasteland that would exist had the Pack not played the night game.

My total purchases added up to only five bucks so far, so I decided to circle the show, wondering what I should spend the big money (a paltry thirty-dollar limit) on. I passed the tables of '70s Commons Guy, Hobby Box Credit Card Guy, Overpriced Wax Guy ($5 for a pack of 2009 Goudey?), Bobbleheads and Nothing Else Guy, Screw-Down Holders Guy, I Let My Kids Man the Table Guy, and Signed Hollywood D-Lister Eight-By-Tens Guy. None of them had what I needed. Then, divine intervention...

Earlier in the show I took a good look at the offerings of I Busted Ten Cases of Donruss Americana Guy. If you read my blog regularly, you might remember the Americana binge I went on over a year ago. As it happened, I got the itch again. I was ready to buy some wax just for the thrill of opening it, but I came back to the Americana tables. This guy had a TON of stuff, most of it junk or something I already had. I had almost talked myself into a Montgomery Clift relic, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw it...

2007 Donruss Americana #HL-37 Jimmy Stewart Hollywood Legends Super Stars JUMBO Coat Swatch (15/25)

Yes, now it is mine. Jefferson Smith! George Bailey! The guy from Rope!

I left the show right after that, content to avoid pressing my luck. When I got home, I investigated the suspicion that there was a different version of this card with a smaller relic piece. There is, and there are a bunch of them on eBay, numbered to 325.

I checked if there were any more of the jumbo swatch versions for sale. All I was able to find was this one for $249.95, and this one for $329.95. Overpriced, perhaps, but the only ones available, and one seller is hoarding them all.

Oh... I guess I'm leaving something out of this tale. I'll let the picture tell the story.

I ended up giving him $20 for it.



William said...

You should change your name to Quilvio Veras because you just made a major steal.

beardy said...

Wow, good deal dude, and a very nice looking card of a legend.

gritz76 said...

You need to let me know when the next show is. I could go for a road trip and some baseball cards! I'm getting low on cheese too.

dayf said...


--David said...

Willie Mays Hayes! :-)