EDITOR'S NOTE: If you want to skip Bill's quick introduction about the 2011 National Sports Collectors Convention and go straight to the 16-page mega-photo gallery essay, here are the links:
Back in 2009, my first National Sports Collectors Convention yielded a 2,200-word essay, a 20-page photo essay, a decent-sized hole in my checking account, and the enduring disgust of my wife after I returned from Cleveland carrying vintage pennants, Topps boxes, beaten-up posters and various other items that I didn't really need. One year later, I went back for seconds — this time in Baltimore — under the guise of filming a TV segment for E:60. I bought more useless stuff and had this exchange with my wife upon returning home.
—Her (sifting through one of my bags): "What's this?"
—Me: "That's a 1940s Red Sox razor. An old-school one!"
—Her (opening it): "What are you gonna do with it?"
—Me: "I don't know. I just thought it was cool."
—Her: "How much did it cost?"
—Me: "Like 150."
—Her (confused): "And you can't shave with it?"
—Me: "No. It's a collector's item."
—Her: "Where is it gonna go?"
—Me: "I don't know."
—Her (thinking about slitting my jugular vein with the razor): "You don't know?"
—Her: "Why don't you think of these things when you're buying this stuff?"
—Me: "I I don't know."
That should have been it. A third straight year would turn me into an official NSCC junkie, push me closer to wearing my first cheaply made Hawaiian shirt, and maybe even lead to my first conversation with a divorce lawyer. But when I learned the 2011 Convention was being held in Chicago — one of the happiest cities to visit during the summer — and that a few of my friends were going, I mean, how could I skip it? I didn't plan on doing a photo essay or anything this time, just going for fun. But first, I needed clearance.
—Me: "I'm thinking about going to the Collectors Convention again next month."
—Her: "What? Where is it?"
—Her: "Chicago? That's not fair!"
—Me (panicking): "I'm going for work — doing a photo essay for Grantland."
—Her: "Wait, didn't you already do one of those?"
—Me (thinking): "Yeah, but still."
In the words of Ernie Banks, let's play two! CLICK HERE FOR MY 2011 PHOTO ESSAY.