Clemente’s Corner: All Eyes on Cleveland for the 2024 National

It’s that time of year. The days are longer and hotter. Kids are out of school. And collectors are gearing up for the National Sports Collectors Convention once again.

The five-day NSCC opens on July 24 (with the annual VIP Party) at Cleveland’s I-X Center featuring over 600 dealers and vendors spread out across 420,000 square feet. Organizers are already calling “the second-largest trade show event to occur in the NSCC’s 44-year history” following last year’s record-breaking show in Chicago.

As always, there will be a plethora of signers – from Hall of Famers to current stars – and corporate booths featuring the likes of Topps, Upper Deck and PSA. In other words, there’s something for everyone – no matter how you collect.

For hockey collectors, the National remains a must-visit – especially if you’ve never been to one – although the Toronto Sport Card Expo (held twice each year) is hockey heaven. Nonetheless, there will be something for hockey fans in Cleveland.  

Here’s a look at what to expect at the 44th National Sports Collectors Convention, which runs from Wednesday, July 24 to Sunday, July 28:

Corporate Booths

Hockey fans definitely should stop at Upper Deck’s corporate booth at least once during the National. [Photo by Clemente Lisi]
For those who love giveaways, the corporate section is the place to be. There are a few options for hockey collectors to check out at this year’s show.

Upper Deck’s booth is a must-visit destination for hockey collectors. As the only company to make officially licensed NHL trading cards, Upper Deck is generous with its giveaways and raffles, while selling high-end autographed photos, jerseys, and other memorabilia items of players such as Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid. Upper Deck also has an annual wrapper redemption program at the National, where collectors buy a certain product in order to get special packs of cards available only at the show. 

Not far from UD’s booth will be Steel City Collectables, another place where collectors could get their wax box fix given the array of products they sell at the show each year. They, too, will be poised to do giveaways, kids breaks and take in wrapper redemptions.

Leaf will also have a presence once again. Although they do not hold the NHL license, they do produce hockey products that are worth a look. I especially like their autograph and memorabilia cards. It’s worth a look if you’re in that area of the showroom floor.

Autograph Guests

Kareen Abdul-Jabbar signed autographs at the 2023 National in Chicago. [Photo by Clemente Lisi]
It’s the same story every year. There aren’t enough hockey signers at the National. This year is no different.

Expect the Tristar Autograph Pavilion will be packed as usual with past and present greats from the worlds of baseball, football, basketball, boxing and even soccer. Don’t expect too many hockey signers.

1997-98 Pinnacle Team Pinnacle #2 - Dominik Hasek & Curtis Joseph
Dominik Hasek is the lone hockey autograph guest at the 2024 NSCC in Cleveland.

In fact, there will only be one at this year’s National – goaltending great and Hall of Famer Dominick Hasek. Nicknamed “The Dominator,” the two-time Stanley Cup champion and six-time Vezina Trophy winner will be signing on Saturday, July 27 starting at 1:45 p.m.

I get that Cleveland is not a hockey town, but it does cover a large swath of the Midwest. It would have been fun to see more hockey autograph guests. For hockey autographs, you’re better off going to the Expo or the Chicago Sports Spectacular.

Hockey Card Vendors

The Puck Junk Booth (#700) will be selling hockey cards and t-shirts at this year’s National in Cleveland.

How much hockey is there at this show? That’s a question I get a lot from collectors who have never been to a National.

The answer is that there is hockey, but you have to look. Yes, many vendors sell McDavid Young Guns (and expect a flood of Connor Bedard rookies as well this summer), but vintage baseball dominates this show, especially when you first walk in.

Expect tons of baseball cards – but you can find hockey cards if you look. [Photo by Clemente Lisi]

The key is that you have to keep looking – and even ask vendors who sell a variety of sports. Many will keep a box of hockey cards under the table for you to rummage through. There will also be three trade nights (July 25, 26 and 27) where collectors can gather and make deals at the “Collectors Lounge” sponsored by eBay.   

Of course, Puck Junk’s Sal Barry will be there once again with his awesome collection of singles, collectables and t-shirts. When I’m not walking the floor looking for deals, I’ll be hanging out with Sal. Stop on by and say hello. I look forward to seeking you at this year’s National. Puck Junk will be located at Booth #700.

To purchase tickets for the show and other information, please visit For show hours, go to

Clemente Lisi is a lifelong Rangers fan who first started collecting cards in 1986. He collects both vintage and modern with a focus on rookie cards. Follow him on X/Twitter @ClementeLisi.

Top Photo Credit: Ray Schulte / Schulte Sports

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Author: Clemente Lisi

Clemente Lisi is a lifelong Rangers fan who first started collecting cards in 1986. He collects both vintage and modern with a focus on rookie cards. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.

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