While I’m unfortunately stuck in the office here in the Midwest while thousands of others in the hobby are catching up at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore, I’m doing my best to stay in touch with the happenings on the East Coast.
Between my co-workers and a couple of our freelance writers who are busy making their way around the Baltimore Convention Center, I almost feel like I’m part of the festivities. Well, without the great collectible eye candy, the exciting auction drama and no Stephen Strasburg posters as far as the eye can see. Other than that, it’s almost exactly the same.
After high expectations due to a strong amount of pre-convention ticket sales, attendance reports have been mixed between solid and good from those I spoke with. A mad rush of collectors came flying through the turnstyles on Day 1 but the early excitement was quickly squelched when it turned out the early crowd was basically only there to scoop up the free Baltimore Orioles tickets being offered. And can you blame them? The Buck Showalter is now in full effect and the team has won three straight.
Those on hand have reported a steady increase in floor traffic for each day thus far, but considering Wednesday was mainly a VIP-only crowd and Thursday is well, Thursday, that’s to be expected. Let’s see the actually attendance (for once) once the smoke (or dust) clears on Sunday and we’ll go from there.
According to my sources close to the situation, lines have been seemingly never ending to be a part of the Topps’ Stephen Strasburg promotion. The card company has made Strasburg’s Topps Heritage card available at its booth and the pitching phenom has again drawn much of the attention thus far. The promotion is a limited-edition (to 999) Strasburg card which are being given out to collectors at various times throughout the run of the show. I’ve heard that these cards are quickly showing up on eBay and selling in the $100 range or are changing hands on the showroom floor as dealers seek hem out and make them a part of their own giveaways.
In addition to the steady crowds on hand, collectors have also been graced with the presence of several government officials from the Chicago FBI. The feds are on hand as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged fraudulent activities of various auction companies in the hobby. Thus far, it has been a matter of questioning but the investigation has apparently been going on for more than three years with the findings expected soon so stay tuned. For more, click HERE
Apparently two low-graded T206 Honus Wagner cards are also on site at the show. One graded a “2” is being displayed at the PSA booth and another sans the white border also turned up but only warranted an “authentic” evaluation when the final grade came in. Either way, pretty cool to see two examples of the hobby’s most sought after card in the same building. That doesn’t happen every day, ya know?
Just like last year when he helped generate a buzz about the hobby with his video and article of his National experience, ESPN’s popular Page 2 writer Bill Simmons is on hand in Baltimore. The irreverent and comical writer will likely have another interesting video up on the World Wide Leader’s site early next week which should help all of us living vicariously through others this weekend get a better idea of what this year’s event brought to the table.
The National Board of Directors will also be meeting later tonight to decide if Baltimore will be a part of future National rotations. While it seems to me that the vote should take place after the show has concluded, the fact that they’re willing to make the call this early in the proceedings leads me to believe Baltimore is a lock for future shows.
The general consensus is that while the crowds are above-average thus far, there’s not a lot money is changing hands between collectors and dealers. Many collectors like to kick the tires for a day or two and then start the haggling process later in the week as dealers soften their stance and prices get reduced. We’ll see if that’s the case come Sunday when we get out final report from Baltimore or if this is a year of the window shopping and many disappointed dealers. Only time will tell but here’s hoping collectors start dusting off their wallets to purchase some of the great memorabilia on hand and everybody wins.