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My 40th National

This year in Chicago marks the 40th anniversary of the first time I was able to go to a National. Of course, to get there required a plane trip that my good friend Mel Solomon had arranged for us to save a few dollars. Were we going to take a non-stop to Chicago, well of course not, we were going to make puddle jumping stops in four different Michigan locations. No, I don't remember every stop but of course there was even one in Kalamazoo. The best part of all those stops (and you do have to realize this was 1983) was getting off the plane at each stop and picking up a local newspaper. Do you remember how much fun it was to read newspapers. Of course, with all those stops, would you believe we still arrived in Chicago before the non-stop that cost just a few sheckles more.

So we then drove around Chicago had a nice lunch and got to the hotel in time for dealer set up. I was fortunate enough to sell a bunch of cards to a Milwaukee dealer whose shop had burned down a few months earlier and they needed to stock up quickly. My prices were good, their money was good and I had paid for the trip before the show even started. Now that's playing with house money. But that was just the warm-up for Friday. For those dealers who remember that Friday, let me assure you I have never seen a day like that before in hobby history. The show opened at 9AM and we were literally still busy when the show concluded at 9PM that night. Yep 12 hours of constant buying/selling/trading and you could not keep up with all the demand. The most amazing part of that day was the market making on Ron Kittle Rookie Cards. At that point in 1983, there was only Fleer Ron Kittle cards and during the day the price went to something like buying at $5 and selling at $7. In those days, perhaps through the 1990 National, there was always some card which would end up being the card of the show and the Kittle was that card.

After that exhilarating day, we ended up at hotel bar to eat dinner (after all who wants to go out at that point) and I ended up as part of the group trying to design basic guidelines for the NSCC and hopefully to get us out of being in the midwest every year. To be honest, the dealers were mostly in favor of the big for the Parsippany National and we were going to end up there but we as a group did not want to spend years in the same area because a dealer bloc did not want to drive long distances. As I noted, even with my bad handwriting, I somehow got selected to keep the notes of the discussions about the very first NSCC bylaws to start the process of creating a more formal process. Yes, I wish I had kept those notes because of the importance to hobby history. The next night we did have our vote for the NSCC and other than a surprise bid from a man named Rich Carlson who wanted to bring the National back to the West Coast, the vote turned out to be a landslide for us to move to the Aspen Hotel in Parsippany NJ for 1984. IIRC, the vote was something like 192-21 for the Parsippany National and I'll recap the 1984 show in a future article. But a couple of more fun notes on 1983. The autographs were free and I was able as the show slowed down a little to get both Ernie Banks and Minnie Minoso and I ended up buying a book lot because the value was there. And the next day I put a price tag on books because it would be a while before I would get them back but someone took a look at a book and said oh I saw you paid $10 for this so I'll give you $12. Hard to turn that offer down. And poor Lew Lipset is probably still annoyed at me for having the books on his lap on the drive back from Chicago. And after the 1983 NSCC, I was hooked on the concept and 40 years later, it's still the best sports card hobby event!

1 Comment

Brad Bethune
Brad Bethune
Jul 25, 2023

Great Article!

Is there a "card of the show" at every NSCC, even today and how would you find that out?

It would be very nostalgic if they showed the very first NSCC bylaws at every show.

Is there a podcast where you tell this story, a verbal record?

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