The National #3 | A Show for Newcomers, Youngsters

Come One, Come All!

Date: May 29, 2024
Author: Greg Bates, Senior Writer
Topics: Card Culture, Greg Bates, The National
Length: 957 Words
Reading Time: ~5 Minutes

Enjoy our third story in a series to help collectors prepare for the 44th annual National Sports Collectors Convention, which will be held in Cleveland from July 24 to 28. We will introduce a new topic each week leading up to the show.

This week, we meet a grandmother heading to The National for the first time, and a 13-year-old Canadian Media Kid Ambassador who can’t wait to return to his favorite event. Don’t miss next week’s story, where we discuss how The National has changed and evolved since the pandemic hit.

It’s an 18-hour drive from just north of Austin, Texas, to Cleveland. For Jenny Campbell, every second will be well worth the time.

Campbell will be heading to her first National Sports Collectors Convention at the end of July. She and her husband, Sascha, have already mapped out their two-day journey, which includes stopping at plenty of local card shops before they hit the I-X Center in Cleveland.

“We just decided to go three weeks ago,” Campbell said last week. “We didn’t think it was going to happen. But it was like, you know what? Let’s make this happen. We’re going to make a road trip out of it.”

Campbell is a passionate card collector and content creator. She was first introduced to cards at a young age when her dad, a trucker, would come home after many days on the road with some packs.

After stepping away from collecting, Campbell reunited with The Hobby when the pandemic hit. Her husband cracked out his old collection, which put hers to shame. From then on, Campbell made it her mission to match or have a better collection than her husband.

A Wisconsin native, Campbell loves collecting cards of Green Bay Packers quarterbacks dating back to Bart Starr. Campbell’s most recent big PC player is Jordan Love.

She also likes Victor Wembanyama and has reverted to her childhood going after Bo Jackson cards.

“I’ve also started collecting a lot of cards that I remember from my dad,” Campbell said. “When I was little, I remember being able to go outside, and the police cars would roll through the neighborhood. They would hand out Milwaukee Brewer cards, which was cool. I recently got an old Paul Molitor, a Rollie Fingers.”

The Campbells will attend The National from that Thursday until it shuts down on Sunday. They are trying to complete the entire Ernie Banks Topps cards run as a couple. They need just two cards to finish the collection, one of which is Banks’ iconic 1954 Topps rookie.

Campbell frequents the ever-popular Dallas Card Show and the Austin Card Show. But the 47-year-old grandmother of three can’t wait to experience the totality of The National.

“In this whole process, I have made so many hobby friends. I’ve got to meet a few,” Campbell said. “My focus now is to get somewhere where a lot of my hobby friends and family will be so I can finally get to meet them. That’s the best part of it.”

Campbell could experience a little culture shock when she arrives at the I-X Center and witnesses firsthand the massive amount of valuable cardboard within her reach.

“Seriously, I just know that it will be so overwhelming just getting through it. And if I see something great or don’t, I want to enjoy it,” Campbell said. “I just want to take it all in. I want to experience my first National.”

Teenage Dream Becomes Reality

Greg Donato got the surprise of a lifetime last year.

After returning home from camp, the then-12-year-old was informed by his dad, Michael, that they were going to The National. It was a dream come true for the Toronto native. The father and son drove nine hours to Rosemont, Illinois, making a plan of attack for the showroom floor along the way.

Donato had a blast at his first National. This year, he will be the Canadian Media Kid Ambassador. Donato is a content creator who goes by Greggy Boy Cards on Instagram.

Donato accomplished the goals he had set going into last year’s National.

“I wanted to meet everyone I talk to on social media and watch on YouTube every night,” Donato said. “I spend a few hours when I’m supposed to be doing my work, but I watch YouTube.”

Dad quickly responded: “You’re not supposed to be doing that, buddy.”

Attending his first National offered valuable learning lessons for Donato. He will use last year’s experience to aid him at his second show.

“I learned how to set guidelines, where to go,” Donato said. “Remember to find which way you want to go because it’s going to be tough exploring the whole place. It’s also tough to meet a lot of people because it’s a huge place. Also, you need to bring a lot of snacks and water.”

Donato was happy to see so many young collectors at The National in 2023. That bodes well for the future of the show. Donato has some advice for kids who might be making their first trip to a National this year. “Most importantly, have the best time of your life,” Donato said. “Remember that you get very tired very easily, and it’s a lot of people. So you might feel overwhelmed at once, but then you eventually get used to it.”


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