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Cleveland National Recap, er, Blog.......

 
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Randy
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:46 am    Post subject: Cleveland National Recap, er, Blog....... Reply with quote

Here it is, folks, for your reading pleasure.........



Tuesday, July 29, 2014:

First day of the National (well, for me), so here I am in Cleveland. I have 3 hours to kill before Matt and Nick get here to check into the Sheraton at the Airport. Did I mention I have 3 hours to kill? I will recap my trip thus far. To begin with, GPS sucks and MapQuest was wrong. How is that for a start to the National? If I had a nickle, er, nickel, (stupid “auto correct”) for every time GPS said, “recalculating”, I would be rich. I finally gave up and unplugged her and put her away. So, that left me with just MapQuest. I should be o.k., right? Nope, THERE IS NO EXIT 40A TOWARD TOLEDO!!!! I avoided further issues and stayed the course. My game plan: Go straight to the convention center and get a hotel close and check in. Great plan, IN THEORY! Every hotel within forever was booked because of the Sports Card convention. Doesn’t the Trivago commercial say “hotels always have hundreds of unsold rooms that they sell at a discount rate”? LIARS!!! I drove to more than a dozen hotels and got the same line, “NO ROOM IN THE INN”. Although, I did stop at one, they gave me the obligatory line, and the manager caught me leaving and said, “want a room? I have a suite for $229.00”. I believe I said, “no thanks”---well, I may not have included the word “thanks”, but I do remember saying no.
Night was setting in and my game plan was failing. Panic is closing in on me and I discover that I am now lost somewhere in a sketchy area of downtown Cleveland. So, I do what any red-blooded American would do and decide to quickly get out of town (remember the word “quickly” it will pop up later). Apparently, in my speedy haste to depart hooker alley, I notice a huge flash of light go off in my rear view mirror and what do my wonder eyes do appear? One of those stationary speeding traps taking a picture of my car, sending me a cute little snapshot of my Buick Century in the mail, and a little reminder of my trip in Cleveland called a Speeding Ticket……..WONDERFUL!! Way to go, Randy. I found a Motel 6 down the road, well, because they always leave the light on, right? So, I paid $48.00 versus the $229.00 “Mr. Try to Squeeze me out of $229.00” was trying to push on me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014:

I wake up, hit the local McDonalds, but not before passing a cop sitting in the parking lot at the Motel 6. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, well, stop trying to fool me…….I head over to the Sheraton to see what that’s all about. I got free parking (comp for staying in a room---which saved $12.00 per day). The Sheraton was also running a free shuttle every ½ hour between the hotel and convention center (which saved $8.00 per day parking at the Convention Center). I am so thankful to Matt for allowing Nick and I to stay with him at the Sheraton. He is my brother from another mother. I had to kick in $10.00 for a cot because I didn’t want to sleep on the floor. I met 2 guys in the lobby of the Sheraton and decided to strike up a conversation. One guy collects golf and the other vintage baseball. Well, so much for striking up much of a conversation. They were both from the coast and complained that there is no show on the coast. Midwest is best, baby!! They said the bulk of buying gets done on Tuesday and Wednesday before “sneak peek”. Makes sense. I go to Bob Evans for lunch; uneventful, i.e. I didn’t actually see Bob Evans there (insert sad face). However, while eating lunch, I read the instructions on the general admission ticket and the last paragraph states, “holder of this ticket assumes all responsibilities for any risk of bodily harm or loss of property sustained while attending this attraction”. WHAT??? Should I be expecting someone to bum rush me or gauge my eyes out over some basketball cards? Should I be wearing a flak jacket and Kevlar helmet to protect me from marauders? Lesson learned is to be safe out there while at the National…….
I am now watching sportcenter on the TV in the Sheraton lobby and notice it has “lost reception” (stupid Direct TV). Oh, it’s the little things that remind me of home. On another note, SQUIRREL!!, Kevin Durant is talking about going to the Wizards in 2016 since he is from DC. While I am trying to absorb that info, some dude is showing some woman autograph jerseys of Wiggins here in the lobby. I wonder if she is impressed or if she just thinks he’s a nerd? I wonder how legit the auto’s are? The woman, genuinely, seems interested in his stuff (his jersey’s, I mean). It is now 2:05 and Matt and Nick should be here in 25 minutes because when Matt tells you 2:30, he normally gets there at 2:15 (so, really, he should be here in 10 minutes). Sorry, if my Matt math confused any of you. Oooo, I just found out we get free breakfast. BONUS!!
I’m surprised there is no wheelin-n-dealin’ going on here in the lobby. Maybe people don’t do that anymore. Or maybe that is just being done at the National. Dunno. Free computer and printer setup in the lobby, but can’t login without knowing Matt’s room number (insert sad face). While waiting for Matt and Nick, some random dude sits down in the lobby across from me. We sit for a good 5 minutes (quietly) and he says, “Are you Randy?” I think, “O.k. random dude, what is my favorite color?” Turns out, the “random dude” is none other than Hal (aka zarko11cabarkapa). We shook hands and he hands me a cool Dajuan Wagner card and tells me that he has been in constant communication (since he knows that I have not been) with Matt and Nick. Nick showed up late to Matt’s house and I know that Matt wasn’t happy about that, but I found out later that Nick showed up with Scotch, so that eased the pain with Matt. Well, we miss the last shuttle to the Convention Center so Matt had to drive to the show. We were a few minutes late, but we were geeked and we were ready to shop til we dropped. We walk in and the first person we see walking around is none other than Bill Simmons (remember that name; there will be a quiz at the end). None of us are 100% sure it is really Bill Simmons so we move into shop-mode. We decide to go to the very back (uh oh, we are giving out trade secrets) because we figure there will be less traffic at that end of the building initially. Smart move on our part because it proved to be correct. The goal was to attack quarter and dollar boxes. We dug deep and began to figure out what everyone was interested in and we banded together to form an alliance to help each other. At some point, we all broke up and were not able to get back together until towards the end of the day.
We ran into Gerald (aka MJ23collector) who was set up at the show and he told us how he pulled some killer hits out of Intrigue, for example, 1/1 Scottie Pippen, and some other 1/1 cards. Well, that’s all Nick needs to hear to get his “pack busting” juices flowin’, so Nick tries his hand at a box of Court Kings. Nick loves Court Kings, FYI, and it did not disappoint. He hit an Anthony Davis auto /10 that he later sold for $100.00. That was a good return on his money. He almost doubled what he paid for the box in selling that one card. Bravo, sir.
We met up with several people we had met at last years’ Chicago National and finally called it quits because we were getting tired and hungry. I found a guy, bought 3 cards from him, and was just about to leave when Nick mentioned the guy had a Kobe One of a Kind numbered 08/150. Nick offered $35.00 for the card and the guy accepted. It was the steal of the show. I will be like Paul Harvey and tell you “the rest of the story”. Nick sold the card to someone at the show for $175.00. You would think that anyone who made $140.00 profit in one day for doing nothing would be happy, right? NOT NICK!! That dude couldn’t stop ***** and second guessing himself thinking he could have sold it for more……..he wouldn’t stop beating himself up for the rest of the show…….
We left the show and went to Hal’s hotel (called “America’s Best Value Inn”). We particularly liked the different color door for each room. It was only 3 miles from the Convention Center so that, actually, was a good place close. We met Hal’s girlfriend, Maria, and she was cool. Her dad collected cards, back in the day, so she understood the obsession with collecting. She fit into our conversations and contributed greatly to the experience. We decided to go to Steak & Shake because Hal and Maria didn’t have those in New York, where they are from. Prior to arriving, Matt stated that every time he has eaten at S&S, the service sucks. Right on point, we waited FOR-FREAKING-EVER just to get anyone to wait on us. That was priceless.
After dinner, Nick wanted to hit the downtown casino and drop $100.00 at the roulette table. Thus, we have now nicknamed Nick “the gambler” (we also called Nick “squeaker”, but we won’t get into that. Some things that happen at National stay at National). The trip from S&S to the casino was one that I will never forget. We went through the bowels/rat holes of Cleveland, “recalculating” through streets which NONE were straight, and traveling through areas that looked more like war zones than city zones, I brought up the topic of “nicknames” for our group. The group decided my nickname would be “Splinter, which seemed very fitting for me as wise, intelligent, nearly always calm, and even when angry, refrains from raising his voice. O.k. maybe I am not totally Splinter, but parts of me are similar to his.
We didn’t discuss other nicknames, but I would say that Matt is “the godfather of the trip” and Hal is “the miner” because he loves to dig.
At one point, some homeless dude said, “Hey” and Nick said, “Yo”. WEIRD transaction, but funny nevertheless. After navigating, I mean recalculating, our way to the casino, we made our way to the roulette table, Nick purchased his chips and began losing his donkey off. Then, all of a sudden, I look over and see, BILL SIMMONS!! Dude is stalking us. So I said, “watch this” (keep in mind, nothing ever good follows “watch this”). I walk up to Bill Simmons and say, “Dude, (that’s right, I said ‘dude’), has anyone ever told you that you look just like Bill Simmons?” He said, “I’ve heard that”. I said, “O.k. has anyone ever told you TODAY that you look just like Bill Simmons?” He said, “As a matter of fact, they have”. I could have kept playing the game with him, but I didn’t want to be one of “those guys”. It was at that point that Nick’s fortune, or luck if you prefer, began to change. He went up $200.00 and we left the table. Nick was the only person at the table that left with winnings. On the way out, Nick went up to Bill Simmons and said, “I just want you to know that you’re so much cooler than Steven A. Smith”. He shook his hand and we all noticed his comment made Bill Simmons laugh.

We leave the casino and head back to our respective hotels. We drop off Hal and Maria at their hotel and on the way back to our hotel, we decide to stop at Wal-Mart to make a few purchases. So, ask yourself. What would 3 geeky card collectors want to purchase at Wal-Mart at 1:45 in the morning? (I didn’t realize 1:45 even came in the am, I always though 1:45 only came in the pm). Answer: Matt buys a fan, Nick buys Meta-musil multi-grain wafer crackers, and I buy Krispy Kremes, which Matt calls Dixie Queens (for some inexplicable reason). We begin to wonder, what 25 year old buys Meta-musil multi-grain wafer crackers???? Is that really your target audience>>>> I think we are part of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” organization at this point. We get back to the hotel room, look through some cards, and call it a night.
Thursday, July 31, 2014:

Today is the first full day of the National and our game plan is simple. Kill quarter boxes. Matt is rockin’ the CWebb jersey, Hal is rockin’ the Zarko Cabarkapa Warriors jersey, and me and Nick are just going casual. We head into the National and, once inside, we scatter. Nick and I meet up and sit for a minute just talking about what we have seen so far. This guy is sitting behind us and he had just opened a box of 13-14 Select. Nick, never known to be shy, asks the guy, “What did you hit?” The guy said a Larry Bird auto and a Kyrie Green green auto redemption. When he said, “green”, I knew that Nick would be moving toward him to check it out. He asked the guy what he wanted for it and he said, “well, others are going for $75.00 on ebay, so how about $80.00??? (The guy, apparently, thought it was the regular version and that is why he accepted $80.00 for the card). Nick swooped in for the kill. Nick is going to send it in and he has a 20% chance of being jersey numbered. Or it could be 1/5 or 5/5. So, a 3 in 5 chance of having added value. He’s “the gambler”, so we will see what he gets. Stay tuned……..
We then begin digging quarter boxes. I hit the wall early (because I am old), go back to the hotel, change clothes, and meet back up with the guys at the end of the show. I see the guys come out of the National, and I notice another person with them. I think, “who is that?” It is Zach (bdrr from Hobbykings). He is set up at the show and we all get into Matt’s vehicle and head out to eat. We stop by “America’s Best Value Inn” and pick up Maria, and we decide to hit BDub’s to eat. While waiting for the food, we have a debate (on which you can participate if you are so inclined) on whether it is etiquette to dip your boneless wings (which come dipped in bar-b-que sauce already) in ranch dipping sauce or not. The issue is, “the wing is already covered in sauce, why would you add more sauce to a wing already covered in sauce?”. The waitress settled the debate and said that people dip the bar-b-que covered wing in ranch dipping sauce (which Nick was correct).
We finished dinner, drop off Hal and Maria (Hal later rejoins us at the hotel) , and head back to the Sheraton to go to the lobby bar to unwind. So, we are all sitting at the table and notice some dude at the bar. It is Dave Winfield. I try to “reverse photo bomb” him, but no one would be willing to snap the picture. We decided not to be one of “those guys” who go up and ask for an auto, so we just continue making small talk. Let me just say that Zach has the greatest laugh ever. It is a belly laugh that can’t be duplicated.
This might have been the best part of our National. We gave Hal our parking pass in order to leave the lot. So, I get on the other side of the guard house and retrieve the pass. I then get back into the lot, get into Matt’s vehicle, and we attempt to leave the lot by sticking the pass into the machine. FAIL!! The machine denies us access to leave the lot because it thinks (do machines think?) we have already left so how could we leave twice without reentering? So, how can 3 well-educated, card geeks outsmart a machine? WE GO OFF ROADIN’!!!! We jump a curb, a sidewalk, another curb, a one-way street, and wham-bam-thank-ya-maam, we outsmarted the machine………HA!!!!!! We were yellin’ and screamin’ like we had just broke out of jail and were on the lamb. What the hell is a lamb and what does it have to do with jail? What does it mean to be on the lamb because if it is what I am thinking, I don’t want to be on a lamb (no homo, called it!!).
We leave the bar and Nick decides he wants a shake from S&S. So, me, Nick, and Matt head over to S&S (let’s just call it Steak & Shake part deux). How difficult is it to make 3 shakes? Not rocket science, right? Apparently, it is rocket science because it took FOR-FRICKIN’-EVER again (hence, the “part deux”). Matt texts Nick and says, “what are you doing, milkin’ the cow? It’s milk and ice cream, WTF?”. Then, we get on a topic of “why are there always white chicks with black dudes, but never white dudes with black chicks?????” Anywho, Steak and Shake does not fail to disappoint. Mission accomplished Steak and Shake. Well, played, sir……We get our shakes and head back to the hotel. Another 1:45 am night for the “kids from Hobbykings”………

Friday, August 1st, 2014:

Last day of the National for us and we are already exhausted. We head down to breakfast and run into Bobby Knight in the lobby with a few homers. Anywho, we decide to sit down and eat so that we can get going to the show (we were running a little late) and we decide how best to mess with Bobby. I suggested putting a folding chair down and seeing how far he could throw it (since he is now 73 years old). In case you missed the game, here it is:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qxu5cvW-ds

We didn’t want to be one of “those guys” who made a “folding chair comment” to him, so we left it alone. We met up with Hal in the lobby and headed to the show. We had to leave Nick behind at the hotel because he wanted to take a shower before hitting the show. We couldn’t wait an hour (sorry Nick, I had to say it) for Nick to take his shower. On the way out, Nick caught a glimpse of Jim Palmer in the hotel lobby (I believe having breakfast with Bobby Knight). I would have loved to be a fly on that wall for that conversation.
Friday was going to be our mission, should we choose to accept it, to leave nothing good in the monster boxes, just crumbs for those that came behind us. Of course, that is impossible when you are talking about the National, but the tables we hit, we didn’t leave much when we walked away.
I hit a great table of stuff on Thursday and decide to take all the guys to that table first thing Friday morning. This guy had some soccer cards and I knew that Hal would be interested in some of them. Hal came on Friday and bought every soccer card this guy had and was stoked about his purchase. The National is about helping others and all of us helped each other out. Hal found a jersey numbered Dajuan Wagner card for me in a QUARTER box and Nick found a jersey numbered Jared Dudley card out of a QUARTER box. Those 2 cards made my show. I will treasure them always and never forget the generosity of all these guys. Matt also went through boxes just for me. I thought, “how cool is it that other people are taking their National time just to help out a brother????” That is the difference between Hobbykings and Blowout!!!!
Nick hit another Kobe jersey numbered out of Fleer Authority (numbered 08/75) and decided to get it graded. Nick has the same luck as I do with BGS……..all bad!! We all agree that the card is going to come back a BGS 9.0. Why? Well, cause it’s Nick and he has “anti-BGS-mojo”………….him and I walk up to the counter and wait for them to bring the little cardboard box which holds Nick’s (out of) luck inside. We already fear the worse, well, again, because it’s Nick. He opens up the box and………..BGS 9.5.
It’s gold, baby!!!!!! That is just a little icing on the cake and Nick can now breathe again.

We were getting tired at this point because we were getting cross eyes, sore backs, and sore knees from looking through quarter boxes. I think Joe (spauthentic84 on Hobbykings) asked, “Hey, what are you guys doing?” Matt said, “We are “dumpster diving” in quarter boxes”. I thought that was hilarious…….
Nick decided to open a box of Intrigue ($100.00) and a box of Court Kings ($49.00). He did better on the Court Kings box than he did the Intrigue box. Remember, Nick is the “gambler” in our group, so it’s the chance that you take. He got some redemption packs from the Intrigue box, but the best card had some damage to the surface.
We had decided to leave at 3:00 on Friday and it was getting close so we hit the road. Most of you know I am the most non-techno person in the world, so this is good. One of our most-used-catch-phrases for our time at the National was, “this is making the blog” because we were going to write a recap just like last year. So, as most of you can guess, I have no cell phone, no GPS, and stick to just Mapquest directions (which, let me know tell you, are WORTHLESS, when you drive through Indianapolis at night trying to find exit 16A-B when it is pitch black out!!!). So, I am following Matt and Nick back from the National and, periodically, I have to communicate with them and they are in the vehicle ahead of me. So, what does an old school guy with no communication devices use to communicate? 2 cans and a string? Smoke signals? Hand and arm signals, like I am an air traffic controller at the airport? NOPE!! I write a note on a paper, pull up beside them, and stick it on the window. I said, “Food?”, so in true communication skill that I understand, they write back, “45 minutes. Can you wait?”. I shook my head yes and pulled back behind them and I said to myself, “this is making the blog”. Matt then waved me back to pull up beside him and he held up a sign that said (and you ain’t gonna believe this), “this is making the blog”. I laughed my donkey off. Now, THAT is real communication, jack!!!!
We got back to his house, stretched, and I hit the road (getting lost for an hour in Indy). So, when you are “old school lost” what do you do? Well, you stop at a gas station and ask directions. I stopped at the first gas station I could find (after going down, what seemed like a million 1-way streets) and asked, “excuse me, can you tell me how to get to 74---which is Interstate 74”. And the guy says, “a seven four?” I thought, “uh oh, this ain’t gonna turn out well”. Well, 30 minutes later, I stop and ask another employee at a gas station for directions to Interstate 74----NOT “a seven four” and I am literally 3 blocks---not 3 miles---3 blocks off of Interstate 74. I got back on track and the rest is history. Another National experience in the books. Can’t wait for next year already AND so glad it’s not going to be in Cleveland!!!!!







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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

that was great, congrats on the successful trip and thank you for the recap!

Where are the pictures!??
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You guys are funny. Thanks for the write up Randy. Hopefully I an make it out one year and enjoy all the madness myself.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So does this qualify as Matt's write-up or do we have that to look forward to too? Great writeup, also looking forward to seeing Bill Simmons' photo diary of sorts that he does.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lol! sounds like you had a blast! Thanks for the write up. That is awesome you saw so many athletes! Glad to hear Simmons is as good in person as he is on ESPN.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting it up, Randy. This was a compilation of Randy (mainly) and Nick and I. So, no separate writeup coming from me, but I will add some pictures and commentary tonight if I can.

I came home from cleveland with quite a head cold. It hit me hard on Saturday, so I haven't even looked at the cards I picked up, let alone organize and take pics. I'm still feeling pretty poorly.

But National was an absolute blast! And as much as Randy hated Cleveland, I actually prefer it ten times over to Chicago. It is so much easier getting in and out of the convention center, with no traffic issues. The show itself was much better for basketball as well. I felt like there was tons more hoops at Cleveland than Chicago.

Don't get me wrong, Cleveland itself is no Chicago. But in regards to the National, everything was better for me.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The woman, genuinely, seems interested in his stuff (his jersey’s, I mean)"

Great read for sooooooo many reasons... thanks again for your recap!
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone, and for taking the time to read the blog. I hope that our recaps can bring in more HKers to future Nationals. Hopefully, we can all get together next year and party like it's 1999.


As far as basketball cards go, Cleveland was "better than expected" so no complaints on that part. If it sounded like I hated my time, that is not correct. It was a once-in-a-lifetime (that I have now experienced twice)----so, wouldn't that make it a twice-in-a-lifetime???? Well, I had a great time.



Randy
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

worth waiting for the recap......sounds like you guys had a blast....
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome recap! Sounds like you guys had a blast.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic recap randy! Wish I could of been there!
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story. Always enjoy reading the re-caps. Reminds me of the small card shows I went to as a young kid (I am now 31 so it has been a LONG time). Hopefully someday I can experience the big one.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are such the personality Randy

you avoid hooker alley but go to the hooker motel?
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good read. Thanks for sharing!
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2014 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing the experience! Glad you guys had a good time as well.
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Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Juan Dixon Collector wrote:
You are such the personality Randy

you avoid hooker alley but go to the hooker motel?





JDC, tough to avoid the hookers in Cleveland, I guess.........
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DAJUAN WAGNER // JARED DUDLEY // 03-04 STANDING "O" GOLD EMBOSSED DIE CUT ROOKIE CARDS
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MGoBlue
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry, guys, I'm still feeling under the weather, but I was able to get some pics taken and some things organized. Here is the lot of cards I either picked up at National, or purchased on ebay and had waiting on me when I got home from National....quite the haul of both.


First the Glen Rice cards:

























Now the Webbers














































A very hard find here:







And the best pickup of them all:




3/5




Goes good with these two:


4/5


5/5

Keep an eye out for the other 2 Smile
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kukocitb
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MGOBLUE never disappoints. Holy moly. unreal pick ups. Love the card clip. Someday I will find the Kukoc. Thanks for sharing. Looks like you had an amazing show.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matt, amazing pickups. Maybe you can come over and take some pics of my pickups and post them...........lol.........


Get to feeling better. You are a pharmacist, you should never be under the weather........




Randy
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Randy wrote:
Matt, amazing pickups. Maybe you can come over and take some pics of my pickups and post them...........lol.........


Get to feeling better. You are a pharmacist, you should never be under the weather........




Randy



We do need to plan another Urbana card gathering! If I wouldn't get fired for getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar, my days at work could be a lot more interesting. Lol
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


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