Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dueling card shows good for the fan?

As I drove past Urbandale’s Merle Hay Mall last Friday night, I noticed a sign it was hosting its Sports Cards and Collectibles show on Saturday and Sunday. “Cool,” I thought. Since I was helping with a local track meet on Saturday, I figured I’d find a good excuse to take my wife to the Mall Sunday after church and pick up a few cards.

I’ve been to a couple of the mall shows before, but this one seemed particularly small, with about a half dozen vendors. In its heyday, this show would host more than a dozen sellers with tables full of cards.

I found some really nice dime box cards (which I’ll cover in a later post) and had some interesting conversations with the dealers who were present. However, by then, my wife’s patience was beginning to run a little short, as she began reminding me we hadn’t eaten yet and it was now 2 p.m.!

Heading to the restaurant, I saw a sign at the Urbandale American Legion Hall (less than a half mile away from the mall), that they were hosting their monthly Sports Cards and Collectibles at the same time. I enjoy the Urbandale show and have gone often enough to be recognized by a few of the dealers there.

However, like many collector’s, I’m on a somewhat limited budget, so I could only attend one of those card shows that weekend. Since I spent my “allowance” at the Mall, I didn’t even go into the Legion Hall (that, and the fact my wife reminded me yet again, that we still hadn’t ate).

Whether it’s a lack of communication, neither site caring what the other was doing, or whether this shaped up to be an out-and-out battle for the collector, I felt a great disturbance in the force. Two different card shows, in two different locations, both being held at the same time – why make a collector make a stand, as to which card show, which location do they support?

These smaller card shows are usually a hoot. Where else can you kibitz with other like-minded collectors, get either a compliment or good-natured ribbing about your choice of sports team, and get great deals on sports cards?

But why compete directly against each other? Nothing good can come of it, as all this does is weaken both shows, both in attendance and in sales, in a warped sense of “divide and conquer.” Ultimately and unfortunately, they’ll both fall by the wayside.

Sometimes it’s hard enough finding just one card show, whether it’s in Iowa, North Dakota, or Delaware. There are plenty of places across the country where card shows have ceased to exist, or they’re just not locally available.

Don’t make it any harder on the fan then it already is.

Friday, April 5, 2013

1992 Padres Police D.A.R.E. safety set

One of the many packages that arrived in my mailbox lately included a rather interesting card set, and one many people feel they could do without – a 1992 Padres Police D.A.R.E. safety set. Love them or hate them, safety card sets have a definitive place within the sports card hobby.

Personally, I happen to like them.
When we lived in Denver, our local 7-11 offered one 1988-89 Denver Nuggets Police/Pepsi Team card with each slushy you got. Once the offer expired, I persuaded the store managers to let me take them off their hands, rather than throwing them away. I hit up three different 7-11's, collecting a total of six boxes of cards. One of the boxes, I actually traded for a Scottie Pippen rookie card (long since traded).

This Padres safety set follows the pattern of most police and fire sets – all 30 cards are printed on a very thin card stock and they’re unnumbered .  There are minimal stats on the back – Birthdate, birthplace, bats/throws, height and weight. What sets the safety card sets apart, are the cute little safety tips, such as “Don’t tie your shoelaces together when going on a long trip.”

Since these cards are part of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, the safety tips deal with their, “Just say NO!” campaign.  For example, on Fred McGriff’s card, the tip reads, “Your family believes in you – they count on you to do your best. You hurt them if you’re on drugs or alcohol. Always D.A.R.E. to do your best and say “NO” to drugs.”

The photos themselves aren’t bad, albeit a little small. You have to dig that photo of Benito in full catcher gear, with those funky shades.
As far as I can tell, one of the first baseball card safety sets was the 25-card, 1980 Charlotte O’s. The highlight of the set was Cal Ripken, Jr., who would go on to Baltimore the following year. Police officers in Charlotte, N.C. would give presentations to local schools, and then give out a few of these orange baseball cards to educate children about proper safety. Needless to say, it made for a very hard set to collect.

You have to admit, though, it’s a great way to get your message out. What’s more popular than baseball cards among the young’uns? They get a card of one of their favorite hometown players, with a little safety message, to boot. For the fire/police departments, it’s a win/win situation.
In the meantime, there’s a 1984 San Diego Padres Fire Safety I have my eye on...

Monday, April 1, 2013

SportsCardForum - You gotta love it!

SportsCardForum - You gotta love it!

 As I’ve stated earlier, I enjoy trading cards more than I do purchasing them. There’s something about the ritual involved with trading – contacting your trade partner, getting to know them, the give and take, the good-natured bantering, setting up the trade, and finally, the excitement of the package arriving in the mail.

My favorite, most enjoyable and professional trading card site I’ve found is SportsCardForum ( I’ve been a member since St. Patrick’s Day, 2003 and have served on the Hockey Card team, the events team and as a volunteer. I enjoy how the site is managed, and protects its members.

I belong to two different trading groups on the site – the SCF Baseball Card Traders and the SCF Football Card Traders. The baseball group has 19 members, while the football group has 20 traders (the Bills, Browns, Bucs, Cards, Panthers, Raiders, Rams, Saints and Texans are still open, by the way). Each trading group is divided into six different sets of trading partners. Each month, you’re assigned a different group to trade with.

Last month was my first with the baseball group, as I replaced the former Padres member, and I’ve been trading for about 5-6 months on the football site. It’s a rather nice way of getting rid of unwanted cards and receiving those you’re definitely more interested in.

Back to SportsCardForum – they have members who are interested in trading (and selling and buying) football, baseball, hockey, basketball, racing, MMA, wrestling, Benchwarmer, golf, tennis, soccer and boxing. You can even trade DVDs, CDs, or almost whatever you want. There's an invaluable TTM section, a program to inventory your collection and other goodies.

Best of all, the price can’t be beat – It’s a free website.

Here's an example of a few of the Padres cards I received in a recent trade. Again, I love the old Padres uniforms and wish they would return to the brown and gold, at least akin to what Rollie Fingers is wearing (gotta love that moustache!), rather than the "Dodger Blue" they currently sport.

Give SportsCardForum a try sometime. I think you'll like what you find. Who knows, we could be trading in no time. My nom de plume is "Comatoad."