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The Cleveland National: How You Can Participate Right Now

Updated: Jul 17

Even when I’m not looking to buy or don’t want to buy, I will take a few cards from a stack sale that donates a portion of sales to a charity. I call it selfish altruism. It’s selfish because it makes me feel good, and I like feeling good. But I also enjoy helping people, and if I can get a few extra PC cards, then it’s a win-win. 

There’s a belief that The Hobby is a place where people can help each other by supporting each other, contributing to different projects, and by buying stuff. The truth is that helping someone often means spending some of your hard-earned money. And that’s ok. The things we spend money on tend to define us.

As much as I wanted to, I won’t be going to The National this year. I was looking forward to meeting hobby friends and spending a modest budget on a few cool cards. But family comes first (my wife is expecting in early July). 

I figured I could still participate in The National, even if indirectly, by writing about two guys who will be there promoting their causes. They could use your help, and in some cases, it’ll only set you back the cost of a stamp. 

Several stories have been written about Virgilio. He sells sports cards and memorabilia to raise funds for veterans. With the money he raises, he’s able to buy new appliances, construct wheelchair ramps, install roll-in showers, and provide everyday necessities for veterans. 

100% of sales go straight to the veterans. 

This year, Virgilio is accepting consignments for the VIP Signers in Cleveland. The way it works is you request an on-card autograph of a certain player and Virgilio will get it for you. Once the card is signed, you send him payment and he’ll mail it. You can also send him a specific card you want autographed. 

Here’s how you can help:

Consign autographs from SFS for the following athletes: 


Terry Cummings


Dick Ambrose 

Tom Cousineau

Hanford Dixon

Gus Frerotte

Bob Golic

Randy Grossman

Cardale Jones

Bob Lilly

JT Thomas

Mike Tomczak


Carlos Baerga

Len Barker

Joe Charboneau

Rico Petrocelli

Cory Snyder

Pat Tabler

Milt Wilcox

Virgilio needs help with card donations for the following players: Bob Lilly, Randy Grossman, Dick Ambrose, Hanford Dixon, Gus Frerotte, Cardale Jones, JT Thomas, and Terry Cummings. 

I went through a few hundred football commons expecting to find a few Frerottes. I turned up with one. I also sent some Hanford Dixons his way. It was a lot of fun searching for Frerotte cards. Doing something for a good cause helped frame my perspective and made me appreciate my collection a lot more. 

You can contact Virgilio through his website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I wrote a story about Hecker for Sports Collectors Daily in February. It’s one of the stories I wish more people would have read. 

To summarize, Hecker spreads hobby positivity by recognizing people doing good with their cards. He also holds a huge fundraiser each year to support the Western Pennsylvania/West Virginia Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, where he is the Senior Executive Director. 

Over the past two years at The National, Hecker has given cards to just about anybody lucky enough to meet him. He ended last year’s show by giving away cards to a dad and his three kids. 

Some of the cost of the cards comes out of pocket, but he’s always willing to lean on the card community. This year, he plans to give away more than 450 cards with autographs, patches, or serial numbers - not necessarily bank-breaking stuff, but cards that can make someone’s day with the added touch of an auto or patch.  

He’s asking anyone willing to donate a few cards to reach out. The best way to contact Hecker is through Twitter at @eshecker

The next person won’t be at The National, but he extends his love for card collecting to his community. Dave Marek is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for the Somerset Patriots, the Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees. 

“Every Tuesday home game the Somerset Patriots celebrate the hobby and card collecting,” Marek wrote me via Twitter. “The first 1,000 fans get a pack of 5 Topps cards upon entrance to the ballpark. Then stop by the trading card table. There you can scan a QR code to participate in Baseball Card Trivia for a chance to win prizes. Then you can spin the wheel to put your hand in the box to pull 1-3 cards. These cards in the box are donated by people with cards they no longer want and wish to donate them to go to those that participate and help grow the hobby.” 

Marek has shared pictures of the event on social media, with a table surrounded by kids eager to get their hands on cards donated by hobby members from all over the country. 

If you have cards of any type or amount and you wish to donate, you can send them to:

Dave Marek

Somerset Patriots

1 Patriots Park

Bridgewater, NJ 08807


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