This year marks the 40th year of the National Sports Collectors Convention. The annual event began in 1979 near Los Angeles and has become the must-attend attraction for hobbyists.
It marks my first ever trip to “The National,” and I am very excited. For most of my collecting life I just haven’t had the financial means for the trip, with travel, entry fees, food expenses, and hotel rates that would eat up more than my budget when I was in my 20’s and starving as a sports director at small market radio stations.
Now, I am full-fledged in the hobby, and look forward to adding many more Chicago Cubs baseball cards to my collection. The Cubs Card-O-Meter will hit Rosemont, Illinois’ Donald E. Stephens Convention Center with a tally of 327,129 cards. I’ll be updating the sign throughout the show as more cards are added.
Moreso, I’m excited to meet fellow collectors I engage with on Twitter and Facebook. I already have several meet-ups planned, and I’m sure many more will be added throughout the week.
In the past few months, I’ve been reading up on what I should be prepared for, and here is a guide to what I have bought to ready myself for a long weekend at The National.
I bought a pair of comfortable Saucony walking shoes late last summer ahead of my honeymoon to Italy. They are comfortable, but the insoles need replaced. I picked up a pair of Dr. Sholes inserts for extra padding. Additionally, I made a run to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a couple pair of workout socks. Never thought I would spend $15 on a pair of socks, but my feet will likely thank me for it.
I hit this convention center floor last November for the Chicago Sports Spectacular and my feet hurt…after just one day. I’ve admired those Cubs fans standing in autograph lines with chairs…but I don’t want to haul one around. There’s gotta be a lightweight alternative I can strap on my back. There is!
First, I found one at Target. It was $40 and a pain in the backside to assemble. Well, not really, but I want something I can quickly whip out on the fly. After picking up the socks at Dick’s, I hit the escalator upstairs to the outdoor gear. As soon as I reached the second floor, there they were. Portable, lightweight stools. On sale for $10. A savings of $30 to the annoying Target chair, and I didn’t feel bad for spending $15 on a pair of socks.
My handy back pack has been with me for Cubs Conventions, Club 400 events, Beloit Snappers games, etc. It is a must-have for The National. Inside, I’ll put an empty storage box with some penny sleeves, a portable phone charger, and cards for in-person trades that are planned.
Most people have said go in with a goal of what you want to purchase. This is about the only advice I have not really followed heading to the event.
One thing I will be searching for is trade bait. There are a couple more specific items for trade bait for trade partners, otherwise it’s just randomly finding something for somebody.
For myself, I’ll be tearing into the Single Club dollar boxes. I love dollar boxes, and I’ll be looking for Cubs, as well as trade bait.
Other than that, I am just going to soak it all in. When I attended my first Cubs Convention, that was the advice my friend “Arnie,” gave me. Take it all in. He’s also who I’ll be heading to the National with. I feel that if I can peruse as much stuff as possible I’ll have a better idea for the next one. It’s worked for the Cubs Convention, so I have a feeling this strategy will work for the National.
I love Chicago, and it’s an awesome city for food. Deep dish pizza, Italian Beef, craft beer, etc. I don’t have any specific food plans, but a trip to one of Giordano’s, Gino’s East, or Lou Malnati’s is on my list. Short Fuse Brewery is just down the street from the show on Des Plaines River Road. It’s a microbrewery with a great food and beer menu. It will likely be jam packed, but I’d like to at least attempt to head there one evening.
Club 400 will be hosting a private event on Friday night that I’ll be attending. A mystery Cubs guest will be there! Stay tuned…
Follow My Journey
I learned at the Chicago Sports Spectacular that a live blog was not in my best interest between time and poor Internet reception. So, you can follow my National journey on Twitter (@onemillioncubs).