This post on The National was written by collector Richard Hardy (@BossHardy202 on Twitter), who is well-known in the collecting community, or at least the Twitter collecting community. This is the third post he’s written for BBB and he’s also been mentioned in others.
With the largest sports card and collectables show known as The National quickly approaching, I wanted to take this chance to reflect on my prior experiences at this show. 2018 is going to mark my fifth appearance at this show, which is being held in Cleveland this year. My first year, 2014, was also held in Cleveland, so I’m excited for the return to where it all started. After getting a few years under my belt, I cannot wait to see what differences in experience I get to enjoy. To help me relive my visits to NSCC over the years, I figured it’d be best to put it in a blog. That way, anyone on the fence about attending in the future, or newbies coming this year, may have an idea of how great of a time they might have.
Leading up to NSCC 2014, I had created a bit of a following in the collector community on Twitter. Being a younger collector, at the ripe age of 17, a few individuals I had spoken to often through Twitter were looking forward to hearing about my first National. I took as much advice as possible from past attendees and ran with it.
Prior to arriving in Cleveland, I had spoken to @WatchTheBreaks Ivan Lovegren about an opportunity he had available. He was shooting a National special episode of The Breaks, a YouTube web series based off a mildly inexperienced collector and the hijinks he’s often plagued with and wanted a collector to play a role in the clip. Upon hearing this and looking to rack up as many experiences at the show as possible, I messaged him to find out more. We quickly set up a schedule to shoot the scene, which you can see here.
Upon my arrival at day one of the event, I heard about various offers by companies for wrapper redemptions. This led to a lot of wax purchases by me early on, in an attempt to get some exclusive cards! Funny enough, the wrapper redemption programs also geared me towards spending more time at the corporate booths than most other locations. Through this, I was able to meet various employees from each business and learn to look past card brands and more towards the individuals at the companies. I ripped every Topps box at the Topps booth because I enjoyed talking to the people there as I did so. I opened wax at the Panini booth a bit and even sat down with the fantastic Tracy Hackler to rip a box with him, which created an annual tradition of ripping with The Hack Attack. I spent some quality time at Upper Deck’s booth as well and had the pleasure of getting to know Chris Carlin in person. One of the under-the-radar booths that I spent likely the most time at, however, was Tristar’s booth which was run by the lovely Janyce Mabra. This is where the pinnacle of my trip occurred.
It started out as luck, but it heated up into a hot streak. Within the first day of the event, I had won a small giveaway, but that was only the beginning. While at the event, I won a few giveaways (two at the Topps Q & A, a few at the Breakers Pavilion, and some others throughout) including the largest giveaway at the show. Tristar’s redemption program would enter you into an hourly drawing over the course of 4 days. If you opened the necessary product at their booth, your name was put in the drawing. The most notable prize throughout, a signed Tom Brady jersey, shockingly found its way into my hands!
Giveaways were not the only highlight. While opening at the Topps booth, I had one of my best hits appear from a very unlikely box. From a regular $50 2014 Topps Baseball box, I hit an elusive 1/1, a Clayton Kershaw In The Name jersey letter! In that same box I found a metal framed rookie reprint of hall of famer Robin Yount and a silk parallel as well, absolutely smashing the odds.
The National is not only about the giveaways and hits, though. The reason this show so fantastic is because of the memories and moments you can enjoy. I was able to meet countless Twitter friends, had the opportunity to record a box break on a Ferris Wheel, met multiple athletes (Joe Greene, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and a few others), and even held a baseball bat that was game used by Babe Ruth himself! With the countless opportunities to have fun at this show, there’s a good time awaiting every guest no matter the age.