Anyone who thinks good card shows are becoming extinct may want to think again. During the 2007 National in Cleveland, high quality pieces were readily available and a game-worn jersey by one of the city’s favorite sons was at the top of the list of purchased pieces from the show floor.
On the first day of the show, hobby veteran and MEARS authenticator Dave Bushing purchased a number of notable pieces, including a 1960s Jim Brown game-worn jersey.
According to Bushing, when contemplating on whether or not to buy a significant style jersey such as this, one must do some initial research in order to feel comfortable.
Bushing quickly consulted the MEARS database to confirm the shirt consisted of the proper font, tagging, stripes, etc.
For further confirmation, he spent nearly $1,000 on vintage Browns photos to check other aspects of the shirt, including the confirmation of its tear-away style.
Using his preliminary findings as a guide, the jersey checked out and he made the purchase.
On the Saturday of the show, Bushing had Brown sign the jersey, who coincidentally was one of the show’s autograph guests.
The man who sold the jersey was a Cleveland dealer who presumably owned the shirt for many years, as it has never been seen in the hobby until now.
After MEARS performs full authentication on the Brown jersey a full article about the company’s findings laying out all the jersey’s specifics will be published in the pages of Sports Collectors Digest.
According to Bushing, the solid items that appeared at the 2007 National Convention is just one bit of proof that card shows are still alive and well.
“For people that are saying shows are dying, that’s a bunch of crap,” said Bushing. “I think this show was one of the best ever. For the first two days of the show, I never sat down. I spent six figures and that was all before Saturday.”
Another piece that surfaced during the show was a 1930-31 bat used by Indians Hall of Famer Earl Averill.
“The seller said he called me three years ago,” said Bushing. “He lives in Cleveland and waited until I came back and went looking for me. He said, ‘Remember the Earl Averill bat?’ “I said I did so I bought it.”
Bushing said the show wasn’t only a good place to buy Cleveland material, as he purchased many common jerseys for MEARS’ reference library, in addition to the following: Gus Zernial game-used bat; 1920s Dubow golf store display; the only known Chicago Rockets pennant; early AFL pre-merger pennants; turn-of-the-century catcher’s mitt, Red Grange vintage photo; 1940s Spalding Basketball shoes, Nocona Leather football helmet.
Next years National Convention will be in Chicago, so Bushing said to expect many good regional pieces, such as Cubs, Bears and White Sox memorabilia.
Bushing also said that like anything else, buying quality memorabilia takes hard work, but the good stuff can still be found.
“Marquee items are getting harder and harder to find, but using the Jim Brown jersey as an example, if you're willing to do your homework, you may come up with some real gems.”