If you can navigate your way through autograph seekers, vintage card enthusiasts and the dozens (it feels like dozens) of companies doing live case breaks, you never know what you might find at the annual National Sports Collectors Convention.
And while that’s not the most flattering lead ever…I love The National. Really…I do. It’s pretty fantastic and this year, I took my son along for the ride.
So how do you keep a Minecraft-obsessed 11-year-old entertained while you look at memorabilia you can’t afford and watch retired baseball players write their name on things for anyone willing to pay the price?
You give him a project.
The project for my son this year was to find the strangest items at The National. And let me tell you…it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
1969 New York Mets World Champion Socks – $150
“I’m Art Shamsky. If you want to play like a champion…there’s only one brand of socks you want on your feet! Do I wear them? Oh, God no…I’m Art Shamsky!”
Ole Diz Charcoal Briquettes – $40
A lot of former athletes go into the used car business, but, according to the internets, Dizzy Dean opened up, of all things…a charcoal briquette manufacturing facility in the tiny Pachuta, Mississippi (2013 population: 258). Yup, just the facts for this one as there really isn’t much to add.
Airbrushed Mickey Mantle T-shirt (Signed by “The Mick” Himself!) – $300
Typically, you need to go to the mall to find such airbrush craftsmanship, but not today! Is that a sweater vest? A t-shirt?!? I don’t know…and we were afraid to ask for fear the query would be mistaken for genuine interest. I am curious when/why/where someone would wear such a shirt however.
1977 Houston Astros All-Star Game Poster – $25
Fun fact: the Astros lone All-Star representative (pitcher Joaquin Andujar) is not featured on the poster. Also…I want this poster. Frankly, it’s one of the two things I considered purchasing.
“Don’t Mess With Texas” Oil Painting – Price unknown
Good luck explaining this one to your wife, fellas. “Honey, why do we have a painting of an octogenarian beating up a man sixty years his junior hanging above the fireplace?” “Don’t mess with Texas, woman!”
Wade Boggs Painting – $250
I realize it’s not exactly Nolan Ryan throwing fists off Robin Ventura’s face, but…this might have been the best painting (non-airbrush division) we saw all weekend. Speaking of which…I know a guy who’d buy this if the price was right.
Hank the Ballpark Pup Action Figure – $12
Remember prior to the 2014 season when a stray dog made its way onto the field at the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training facility? Now, good luck explaining to your kids why you bought them a knock off Lego representation of said canine and not that puppy they’ve been asking about.
Mike Rogodzinski and Bruce Froemming Matchbook – $25 and up
“Rogo” played 99 games in three seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bruce Froemming is an umpire. Neither belongs on a matchbook…much less for the $25 asking price.
Atlanta Braves Player Portraits – $150 -$225
The gems of The National if you ask me (and I know you didn’t). That handsome beard on the gnome-like face of Glen Hubbard. Bob Horner’s piercing blue eyes. That dumb look on Bruce Benedict’s face. Yes, please! True story. Apparently these portraits were given to each member of the 1982 Atlanta Braves as gifts. This dealer somehow got his mitts on them and is passing the majesty on to us! At a price.
Corbin Bernsen Autographed Ball – $99
“Hey, man…Corbin Bernsen here. Remember that time I made that movie about the Cleveland Indians and said that one line you like to quote at your beer league softball games? You do?!? Let me write it on this ball for you for $99.”
Random Player Autographed 8x10s – $4
Oh. My. God. Left to right, that’s Ron Davis, Dale Berra and Alan Ashby. Also included in the box at four bucks a pop…Pat Sheridan, Lloyd Moseby, Rudy Law and more Dale Berra!
“40’s Joe D’maggio Ring” – Price unknown
Joe DiMaggio won nine World Series rings during his time with the New York Yankees. This is NOT one of those rings. Name misspelled? No certificate of authenticity?!? I’ll take it!
1932 World Series Program – $300
Just in case you ever wanted to drop three hundred bucks on a program that might have been from a certain game that may or may not have ever happened…here’s the item for you. “Babe Ruth’s called shot? The Hell if we know!”