I caught the Blue Line up to Rosemont to check out Day One (maybe Day -1 since things really got into swing on Thursday) of The National Sports Collectors Convention.
Enticed by the chance to get a couple of free autographs and the chance to see everything without a huge crowd I wandered into the convention center around 3.30p. A lot of folks were wandering around aimlessly until they herded all of us General Admission into line. Twenty minutes in line (mostly spent ignoring the folks talking politics) and they let us into the main floor.
A smart person would have studied the map to know where the autograph signings would be taking place, since the quicker I got in the line the less time standing would leave more time for spending. Luckily, I wandered around in the right direction and quickly found the Lee Smith line. He was signing for free courtesy of the fine folks from Freedom Cardboard. At that point it was about 40 folks deep and about 15 minutes before Smith was scheduled to sign.
I whipped out the iPad and checked to see if there was free wireless in the convention center - there wasn't. So I had to resort to reading a downloaded book. The iPad is perfect for The National. I have a book or two loaded on it for the train ride up and for killing time in line. I also have all of my want lists loaded on spreadsheets - no binders for this guy!
The line was across the aisle from the PSA authentication booth so I would occasionally pop my head up and check out what was getting authenticated. Mostly older cards, but one guy did have a sweet collage of an older White Sox team (circa 1919 I think) along with a piece of paper with some of the players autographs. Joe Jackson's was definitely on there.
We waited about 30 minutes or so before the line started moving. Apparently, Mr. Smith was a little late and they had forgotten pens for him to sign with. That was the bad news. The good news, once he started signing it went quickly and they even allowed us to get multiple items signed.
Once I was done with that I wandered over to the next autograph area to get Bill Madlock's signature resigned to the fact that I would be spending the next 30-45 minutes standing in line. How wrong I was. My wait had to have been less than 5 minutes. I love it when I expect the worst and it turns out to be not so bad.
One table over Olympian Dick Fosbury was signing....or should I say waiting to sign. No one was in his line which led to the following exchange between me and Mr. Madlock.
BM(to nobody in particular): "He's an Olympian, right? What's his name?"
Me (since no one else answered): "Dick Fosbury."
BM: "What's he famous for?"
Me: "The Fosbury Flop, you know, the first one to go over the high jummp bar backwards?"
BM: "Oh yeah"
After that it was off to check out some of the booths. As I meandered I ran into a guy in a Blackhawks jersey. The one and only Sal from Puck Junk was picking up some hockey stuff at a booth. We had pre-arranged a meeting either Wednesday or Saturday to exchange some cards (which we did).
He went his way and I went mine. Another 30 minutes or so of wandering and I was done. Total money spent: $8.00
The free autographs. That's right I sacrificed a 1988 Donruss for Lee Smith's autograph. Unfortunately, I didn't have any cards with him in an O's uniform up here in the Chicago command center. I figured everyone would by handing Madlock Pittsburgh or Chicago stuff so I went in a different direction.
The free stuff from Sal. Way more than I expected. In exchange for some minis and an Eric Daze auto I received the following:
A Baltimore O's sticker - can't have too many!
2010-11 Donruss Press Proof Martin St Lous #85/100 - the back of the card said he's "far from over the hill"
2010-11 Boys of Winter Relic Teddy Purcell - nice swatch from the newly re-signed winger
2010-11 Artifacts Vincent Lecavalier #72/150. Two blue swatches from the Captain!
The cheap stuff:
Since I really didn't have anything better to do on a Wednesday afternoon
A couple of Kellog's 3D Eddie Murray cards. Two cards knocked off the want list for less than $1.00
The Big Purchase:
2010-11 Winter Warriors Vincent Lecavalier Relic. It cost a whopping $5.00 which is cheaper than I've seen it online.
Not pictures - a set of Crown's collection of Orioles that was released in 1991 at their gas stations or at selected games. I had them all when I was kid, but have since lost them.
There ya go...We'll see how Saturday goes.