The Tri Star baseball card show is in town this weekend, and I decided to take Atticus on Friday to check it out.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect since it has been a couple years since I last went, but I had visions of going through dollar boxes and pulling out some fun 90s-00s inserts & parallels for my binder.  I’ve been working on this binder for the past month or two – not with any fervor whatsoever, but just grabbing some fun cards that I love.  Here is the first page of it :

On the way up to the card show, Atticus asked me to describe the culture of the ’90s.  He wanted to know what was popular.   I told him what it was like from my point of view.

’90s movies like Ace Ventura and the Matrix were popular.

Who can forget Jurassic Park?  I was definitely crushing on Lex back then.  (Be warned … I LOVE Jurassic Park more than you do, and am fully prepared to pepper this article with gifs to prove it!)

TV Shows like Friends & Home Improvement were a staple for most.  Who here misses canned laughter tracks?

Video games became much more addicting, due to leaps in technology …

The music was phenomenal, too.  Rap was certainly loads better.  Compare what we had in the ’90s…

…to today’s rap … on a bag of chips???

Okay, I’ll be honest.  I have never heard of Migos, and a quick Google search shows they are a “hip-hop group”.  I guess that means not rap?  Anyway, all I’m saying is you wouldn’t find Snoop on a bag of chips back in ’95.  (Or would you?)

Saying things like “tight” and “phat” were a thing, and so was wearing Jenko’s.  I wore them – did you?

Since I’m a big baseball guy, the conversation really focused on baseball.  I told Atticus about the lockout in 1994, and how many fans left the fold, but came back in 1998 because of the home run race between these two guys:

It was an incredibly exciting time.  When either of these guys were at bat, no one would leave their seat.  I explained to Atticus that Babe Ruth was the first player to hit 60 home runs in 1927 and 34 years later, Maris & Mantle were in a home run race to capture the all-time single season HR record.  With Mantle having succumbed to injuries, the only shot available was for Maris.  Amidst a ton of anxiety, he hit 61 in 1961 – a record that stuck longer than the Babe’s.

When 1998 came around, not only was there one threat; there were two.  Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.  By the end of the 1998 season, we had two players who smashed the record.  Sosa hit 66 while Big Mac hit 70.  This wasn’t just exciting for the 1998 season; it was a monumental event for all of baseball history – and sadly, mixed with good and bad feelings due to performance enhancing “stuff”.  A few years later, a man by the name of Barry Bonds broke that record.  The man who never hit over 49 home runs at any other point in his career in a single season, cracked 73 bombs in 2001.

Perhaps I brought all of this up because I ran a poll on the forums and on social media earlier this week:  “Are you glad the steroid era happened?”  The results astounded me.  Everywhere I go I hear people who think that this time period was a huge black eye for our national pastime.  As it turns out, more people are actually glad it happened!

Are you as shocked as I am?

The entire conversation had strange timing, because when we got to the card show and walked around a bit, we stumbled into a conversation that a customer and dealer had about this very subject.  I interjected saying how Atticus and I were just talking about this in the car.  The customer told me “I am a big McGwire fan, so you can imagine I have many people who find it strange that I collect him.”  I told him “I know what you mean.  I collect Canseco.”

He responded with “You know something, there is a guy online who is selling a massive Canse…or…wait…are you him??”

“Yes, that is me!  I sold it all inside of 4 months, and am picking back up some cards I love using the profit.”

“No way!  That is crazy!!!  I can’t believe I ran into you.  What are the odds?”

I believe his name was George, and we talked for a while.  He showed me pictures of his incredible McGwire collection.

Throughout the course of the day, a few people came up to me to talk, and fellow cardboard compadre Kippy connected with me to buy a book.  Kippy said many nice things to me and about me to my son.  Thanks for that, by the way!  I love getting positive feedback, but nothing beats hearing someone say nice things to my son about me 🙂

For the card show itself, it was impressive as ever.  The place was loaded with dealers.  Museum-worthy (and Museum) cards were shown, so even if you weren’t a buyer, you still had plenty of eye candy to make the price of admission worth it.  From loads of pre-war cards to Babe Ruth signatures and barrel cards to Koufax rookies, it was definitely a treat to see.

All of the newer cards were great too.  Tons of knobs, buttons, high end patch cards, etc.

The one thing that was missing was what I was hoping to get:  inserts & parallels from the ’90s – ’00s.  It is a strange feeling that you can see multiple Hank Aaron rookies, and not a single PMG.  It felt like I was lost at sea – surrounded by more water than anywhere else in the world, and yet dying of thirst, because I couldn’t drink any of it.  There were LOADS of cards – tons of vintage and new stuff, but almost nothing in between.  I did dive into some dollar boxes and pulled a few cards:

I also got this, which was interestingly enough, my first ever “substantial” Canseco purchase I have EVER made in person.

I made this purchase not because it is for me, though.  I purchased because it was  good deal and figured I could trade it for something I like.  This card simply isn’t a good fit for what I’m trying to do.

So, to wrap up, it was certainly not a day of exciting treasure hunting.  It was a bummer to enter this sea of cardboard …

… and leave with very little, because the entire building didn’t appear to have much of anything up my alley (that I saw, anyway).  On the bright side, the conversations with other collectors I had were greatly enjoyed, and made the trip worth it.

This experience really made me realize how blessed we are as collectors to be able to connect online and pick up cards from eBay.  Here is a card I sold, but ended up buying back from a Yankees collector named Dan.  He was gracious enough to allow me to purchase it back from him.   (The card on the right – it is a 2000 Fleer Showcase Legacy #/20.)  Definitely NOT a card you would see at the card show.  Thank you Dan!

Look at how cool it is in different light.  It is like a reverse refractor!

Below is a video of a mailday I had two days ago that shows eight incredible cards that excite me to no end in my collection.  If I went to every single card show here in Houston for the next 20 years, there is a very good chance, I may never run into any one of these.  That’s okay, though.  It just makes me appreciate them that much more.

For those of you who care to see, here is a video of my wrap up of the card show itself:

I’m not sure if I will ever attend another show, but if I do, it will likely be for the conversation and not necessarily to pick up cards for my collection.  But then again, that is what makes this hobby so great – it isn’t just about the cards; it is also about the relationships you can build through them.