All of the buildup leading to the National, all of the announcements of autographs guests, manufacturer giveaways and promotions, special ticket pricing is now a distant memory.
With a flash on Sunday, after an armada of people came to see Mike Tyson, the late afternoon thunderstorm in Chicago washed away the lingering minutes of the National. If you weren't thinking about taking your stuff down late Sunday, the rain and wind blowing in from the open garage doors on the show floor made up your mind for you.
The National rolled to an end Sunday with a stellar autograph lineup of Tyson, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Frank Robinson, Robin Yount, Roberto Alomar and a host of others, capping a strong lineup that keep the area next to the Olympic pavilion packed to the hilt all weekend long.
I felt sorry for the folks sprinting into the show late Saturday and Sunday for autographs because I felt if they weren't early, they'd have no chance to meet the athlete in person – one of the draws of a live signing.
The National has definite staying power. What I mean by that is you'll see a lot of the same people at the show over multiple days. You can't cover the event in its entirety and with the justice it deserves in one day.
Attendance was strong throughout, with a really strong throng of people flowing in Saturday morning. A dealer next to me said he hadn't seen an entrance like that at the National in a long time, and he said he had a good show with those folks buying, too. I always take dealer comments on a show's success with a grain of salt because it comes to whether they made any money, and that depends on a lot of factors for each dealer – pricing, demeanor and selection being some of the factors. My personal observation was a lot of activity all over the floor throughout the show.
Unopened packs did very well, cards priced to complete sets were snatched up and plenty of people had their want-lists out and ready to cross some things off.
People were looking to sell, too, but they should always keep in mind that doing so at a show means the dealer needs to make money on it, too, so the higher asking points will never fly.
There was one high-profile arrest, a few thefts (which will always happen with high-end product on the floor and that many people converging on one place), but ultimately a solid event.
The Olympic collectibles area was a nice change of pace, and I swear Dick Fosbury was there more than the security guards. Great guy and always available.
It's a long event, six days for those who set up at the event, but each day brings something new, and the smiles each morning between dealers, collectors and fans was present throughout.
For those who attended, what did you think. Any first-time attendees? I love the initial reaction from folks who just stand there and go, "Man, this is big, how should we start?" Saw that over and over.