Our regular fall appearance at the Sun-Times Show in suburban Chicago this past weekend reminded me about some of the underlying elements that bring so much resiliency to our hobby.
On the heels of several months of horrifying news about the economy, expectations had to be diminished as the latest Sun-Times Show got under way, but while the crowd may have been down a bit from a year ago, it was hardly a doom-and-gloom situation.
There were still loads of people poring over their vintage-card want lists, and the show continues to provide a nice combination of interesting autograph guests and a lineup of veteran dealers.
Indeed, that last observation typifies the neat convergence of the new and the familiar that the show promoters strive for. Along with Jennie Finch, whom Wikipedia describes as the most famous softball player in the world, the signers included a host of football and baseball hall of famers (Duke Snider, Gale Sayers, Dave Winfield, Don Sutton, Ernie Banks, Paul Molitor. Whitey Ford and Brooks Robinson, to name a few), historic duos (Kirk Gibson and Dennis Eckersley, Mookie and Buckner) and even a well-timed visit from Don Shula and members of the 1972 Dolphins. One full day after Earl Morral, Larry Little, Mercury Morris and Paul Warfield joined Shula at the signing table, the “perfect” squad performed their annual ritual of noting the last NFL club of each season to be dumped from the undefeated ranks, in this case the Titan’s loss on Sunday to our old Packer pal, Brett Favre and the Jets.
So while there was plenty of excitement in the autograph area, I got the biggest kick (as I usually do) from some of the eye-popping stuff on the show floor. This time was even better in that regard than normally, because Brian Drent of Mile High Card Co. had a remarkable pile of 1968 Topps Plaks, and Bill Huggins of Huggins & Scott Auctions boasted a 1948 Leaf oddity that appears to be a one-of-a-kind prototype (shown here).
I’d venture to guess that few collectors have ever even seen any or all of the Plaks, which are certainly one of the toughest test issues that Topps came up with in the 1960s, and it’s even more like that hardly anybody has ever seen this 1948 Leaf Hal Newhouser card, which is dramatically different from the short-printed Newhouser card in the regular issue.
I’ll have more on both of these “finds” in future blogs.