My 2023 National Experience
I thought I'd share a bit about my 2023 National experience:
My Dad and I have attended six Nationals in Chicago and numerous Sun-Times shows over the past 20 years. It was always one thing that we looked forward to and the times that we spent together were always very special. We both live in Iowa and the drive was only about 3.5 hours to the show. He collected mostly Mantle, Maris, Aaron, Bench and Clemente in PSA 8s or 8.5s. I focus mostly on my 1956 Topps PSA graded set in 7 through 8 and a PSA graded unopened wax pack run from 1960-1991. Even though we collected two different things, we each shared a passion for what the other was doing and I would be the first to show him any new pickups, and he the same with me.
When we left the National in 2021, we were already talking about the National in 2023 and the things that we would be looking for and making guesses on what the market would be like. I also remember him telling me how this was this was his favorite day of the year and how much he appreciated our time together. I would have never thought that the 2021 National would be our last. My Dad passed away suddenly in December 2021 at the age of 67 and not only did I lose my father, but my best friend, and my best collecting buddy. I didn't even know if I wanted to go back to the National after his passing, but I figured he'd be p**sed at me if I didn't, so I made the trip.
I left Iowa on Thursday morning with the passenger seat empty for the first time in probably 20 years, but I spent the whole drive to Chicago thinking about the times that we had together. It definitely made me happy to think of all of those times.
I arrived at the show, and when I first started walking the floor, I had some sadness as we always walked the show floor together. The sadness was eventually replaced with being overwhelmed at the vastness of the show, the amount of people at the show, and of course the temperature! I was only there for the day on Thursday, and I didn't even come close to getting to all the tables, even with skipping over most of the tables that did not have graded vintage baseball or vintage unopened wax.
It was good to visit with some familiar faces at the show including Terry Brooks, Jeff and Dave Foy and at Card Country (my Dad's favorite table), and Mike C at the BBCE booth. My dad would always visit extensively with Dave Foy and he always cherished those conversations. I was able to spend some time with Dave at the show sharing some stories about my Dad and telling him how much he enjoyed those conversations.
I was happy with my pickups at the show. As I mentioned previously, I am working on a 1956 Topps set in PSA 7-8 focusing on centering and eye appeal even with the commons. It has been a set that I have been working on since 2010, so I am in year 13 and I have 289 of the 342 required cards, so I'm only down to 53....but probably still a couple of years away from completion.
I only picked up one card for my 1956 Topps set, but it was a biggie. This is probably the nicest 1956 Topps Hank Aaron that I have ever seen in this particular grade. I definitely paid a premium for it, but it was absolutely 100% worth every penny.
I also picked up a George Brett PSA8 rookie. My budget would not allow a PSA9, so I have always had my eye on getting a really nicely centered PSA8. I've been looking for a year or two, and I saw this one at the show. I took a look at, asked about the price, and said I would think about it. I walked about 10 feet away from the table and walked right back knowing that if I came back later and it was gone, I would regret it. So I got it. I was really pleased with it.
My last acquisition was from the same table that I got the Brett and was a tribute card to my Dad. Besides collecting Mantle, Maris, Aaron, Bench and Clemente, one player who he admired a lot but did not have any cards of was Thurman Munson. At the same table that I grabbed the Brett, I also picked up this 1975 Topps Mini PSA8. It just seemed like a card my Dad would like.
After the show was over, I attended a Vintage Wax and Packs Facebook group party within walking distance from the show. It was great to visit with other collectors that shared similar passions as I have. I left the party at about 830 and got back to IA at about midnight. I was really glad that I went to the show and party and hopefully someday I can start a new tradition with my boys (they are currently 8 and 4) at the show. In 2025, it will probably be another solo mission as they both currently have short attention spans, but it will be good to go and visit with friends that I have made and possibly new friends that I will make over the next two years. I'm sure my Dad was looking down on me on Thursday and was proud.
I also wanted to share the last two cards that my Dad picked up at the 2021 National. These will always have a special place in my heart.
Thanks for reading!