Monday, October 5, 2015

The dime box frankenset, Page 10: Numbers 82-90

Let's take a look at how last week's frankenset voting played out.

Win -- 1995 Pinnacle #79 Charlie Hayes (8 votes)

Place -- 2011 Topps Update #US-74 Henry Blanco (6 votes)

Show -- 1993 Topps #81 Lloyd McClendon (4 votes)

Voting took a nosedive last week, as the 24 total votes were by far the lowest number I've seen in a long time. The polls were close, however, and Charlie Hayes (aka The Masked Man of Colorado) took the crown by a narrow two-tally margin.

I myself voted for Henry Blanco's bird's-eye PATP, but I had a feeling the well-deserving Hayes would win out in the end.

Let's see if we can boost those vote totals a bit this week -- because more votes equals more competition and more fun!

Here's a look at our nine newest nominees.

1998 Upper Deck #82 Jamey Wright

Don't let the straight-faced warm-up hacks fool you...Jamey Wright was a .144 career hitter. 

1995 Pinnacle #83 Milt Thompson

The rare beach ball slam-dunk. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #84 Jason Dickson

Not the greatest bunting form, but that's to be expected from an American League pitcher.

1991 Score #85 Dan Pasqua

1982 Fleer #86 Shooty Babitt

How could Shooty Babitt not make this frankenset? 

 1993 UD Fun Pack #87 Brett Butler

What Paul Bunyan would've used if he played for the Dodgers.

1997 Upper Deck #88 Mike MacFarlane

A violent play at the plate. 

1998 Fleer Tradition #89 Alex Fernandez

Pitchers do actually get on base some of the time, you know. 

1987 Fleer #90 Gary Pettis

We close with Gary Pettis looking...indifferent about just having won a Gold Glove.

The polls are now on the sidebar.

Happy voting!

Friday, October 2, 2015

A day off at the flea market, Pt. 2

This box is ten for a buck.

These are the words I heard when I approached a familiar table at my local flea market this past Sunday, and they came from a vendor who I've bought from each of the three times I've attended this year.

He looks to have cemented himself as a new "regular" card guy at these gatherings...and I think I've cemented myself as a "regular" customer, because it's gotten to the point where he knows my face and gives me a nice Hey, buddy, how are ya? greeting when I walk up to his table.

I've gotten some good deals from him in the past, but his discount boxes usually topped out at four or five-for-a-buck. He's never had a dime box before, and, as you'll see throughout the course of this post, I'd never found anything near the quality of what I purchased from him on Sunday.

As a young Bobby Murcer can attest, I felt very much like a kid in a candy store.

I'll warn you now: this post will feature many, many more pictures than I usually show in a single write-up.

This is for two reasons. 1) I want to convey just how substantial these discount boxes turned out to be. 2) I couldn't bring myself to not show off any of these cards.

The Herman and Bauer you see above are fantastic in their own right...

...but, to my utter surprise, this guy's dime box was about 90 percent vintage.

The majority of them were no-name '70s commons, but, then again, even no-name '70s commons are a treat to dig through. Boxes like this one are a great reminder of all the early '70s greatness I have yet to uncover.

That's especially true with '73 Topps, of course.

I didn't pay much attention to these World Series highlight cards when I was younger, and only now am I realizing how big of a mistake that was.

None other than Reggie Jackson himself is front-and-center on this beautiful shot from the '73 Fall Classic.

I don't go out of my way to track down Senators cards, but, at a dime per, I'll load up on as many as I can.

The Hinton takes its place as one of the oldest cards I've ever scored for an FDR, and those red Senators duds seem to especially pop on the '71 design.

It was at this point that I began to realize that this dime box was going to be something special.

I found this quartet of '72 In-Action cards clumped together in the same stack of cards. Two fabulous behind-the-plate action shots, and two dust-filled double dips.

You don't see vintage of this quality in dime boxes very often.

Here's where things started to border on the absurd.

I picked up Jim Kaat's regular '72 Topps issue in a card show dollar bin not too long ago, and, seeing as how it was a dreaded uber-high number in the set, I thought that was one of the greatest deals ever. Little did I know I'd pick up the In-Action variant from the same set at a tenth of that price. (Kaat's two cards are #s 709-710.)

You don't find high-numbers like these very often anywhere, and I know I've never seen any in a dime box before.

But the magic wasn't even close to being over yet.

I found a good amount of these 1983 ASA oddballs sprinkled throughout the guy's dime box on Sunday. ASA was the umbrella brand for a bunch of smaller 12-card, single-player sets that were featured on this design.

This one, for instance, was the only single I found from the Duke Snider set.

These two are part of the 12-card Willie Mays set, and what a couple of cards they are.

A Stan the Man cameo and a rare shot of the "Say Hey Kid" as a Met...not bad for twenty cents.

Joltin' Joe also received a set of his own from the people at ASA.

I didn't know single cards could withstand such star power.

A couple more from the Yankee Clipper, including a shot of him with brother Dom as San Francisco Seal teammates.

Guess Vince DiMaggio got the shaft on that one.

Rub your eyes if you want, but, yes, that's Joe DiMaggio in an Oakland A's jersey.

It doesn't get talked about much now, but Joltin' Joe enjoyed a brief stint as a coach/vice president with the A's in the late '60s.

This is the first card I've seen of him in the uniform, and I think the sheer oddness of the sight is about to make my brain explode.

All in all, I found more Juan Marichal ASAs than any other single player.

These two horizontals have some pretty impressive cameos, if I do say so myself.

Here's another batch from the Dominican Dandy.

The card in the bottom-right particularly intrigued me, as it features Marichal shaking hands with Walter Alston after his brief two-game stint as a Dodger in 1975. It's the closest I've ever seen to a Dodger card of Juan Marichal, and, for that, I was excited.

Still, I couldn't help but think how cool it would've been to find a card of him actually wearing a Dodger uniform. Oh, well.



I had gone my entire collecting life assuming that no card was ever produced of Juan Marichal as a Dodger, and I thought I was pretty safe in that assumption given how short his tenure in Los Angeles was.

But, now, with my own two eyes, I am seeing a card of Juan Marichal as a Dodger. I own it. It will go in my Dodger binder. A card of Juan Marichal will go in my Dodger binder. A card of Juan Marichal will go in my Dodger binder.

It sounds so wrong, yet so right.

And that was just the dime box.

The guy had a 3/$1 bin off to the side as well, though the cards in it only filled about half of a single row in an 800-count box. But I'll be darned if he didn't make those count.

A lot of what was in there seemed to be held in shrinkwrap.

That's because almost all of what I found in there was comprised of smaller, never-before-opened oddball sets.

These Griffeys aren't particularly exciting, and they're not very well-designed. But, heck, at 3/$1, I didn't have to think twice about tossing them into my purchase pile.

Oh, and that's 3/$1 on the whole set, which means that each individual card here cost about three cents per.

Yep, each of these Front Row sets came from the 3/$1 bin as well, which amounts to about seven cents a pop for each individual card.

I bought a couple of these for a buck a piece during one of my earlier trips to the flea market this year, but I guess these were the ones the guy couldn't unload at that price.

Once they got downgraded to the 3/$1 box, the rest was history.

These were also in the 3/$1 archives, though I'm not quite sure what set them apart from the DiMaggios and Mayses I found in the dime box.

But, hey, 33 cents each is still a heck of a deal, I think.

The final feature of this guy's table was a glass case with specially-marked cards off to the side, and the ASA train wasn't quite at the station yet.

For a buck a piece, I scored not one...

...but two cards from the Willie Mays set with Roberto Clemente cameos.

And let's not ignore the appearance of Hammerin' Hank here, either.

I admit, I'm usually a little intimidated by glass cases.

They always seem to house cards I could never dream of owning in a million years. But, in a nutshell, I guess that's one of things I enjoy about the flea market. Even the "glass case" cards are attainable.

The '69 Brock was three bucks, and the Killebrew was five. Both fit well within the day's budget, and, as an added bonus, I now own each of Killer's final eight Topps cards (1968-75).

Before Sunday, only his semi-high number '71 Topps issue (#550) had stood in the way.

Now we're getting into the Pinch me, I'm dreaming moments from the glass case chronicles.

I don't know how to describe my reaction when I saw this '58 Musial All-Star with a two-dollar price tag on it, and I really don't know how to describe my reaction when the guy cut that price in half.

The sentence I'm about to type may seem like a lie, but it's the absolute truth: I purchased a 1958 Topps Stan Musial for a dollar.

Cross my heart, hope to die.

Right about now, I was ready to total up my purchases.

I had around twenty-five bucks' worth of cards in my stack (including a lot more I didn't show here), but the guy only quoted me twenty for the lot. At this point, I figured I was playing with a few extra dollars in house money, and my eyes fell to this 1967 Topps Tony Perez in the glass case.

It was love at first sight. This is one of the most elegant cards from the '67 checklist (dig the name-under-number jersey vests), and one of the better cards I've seen from the 1960s as a whole, for that matter.

Trouble is, it's a semi-high number and a short-print, which means its not a card you find up for grabs very often. I'd never seen a copy in the flesh until Sunday. It had a ten-dollar price tag on it. I asked the guy if he'd take five, and, to my pleasant surprise, he accepted. I handed the vendor twenty-five dollars and thanked him for the flea market dig of a lifetime.

Another glass case card caught my eye as I was walking away, but I figured I'd leave it behind for another day.

But then I got to thinking about it more and more...

...and, a short while later, I came back for Mr. Kaline.

This one was also priced at ten dollars, and, like the Perez, the guy took five on it. It's another high-number toughie from the early '70s (#600), and, though I'm no stickler for condition, I couldn't help but notice the immaculate shape this particular copy was in.

Before Sunday, this was one of those long-wanted cards that I'm sure most collectors have. One of the need-to-have-it-but-can-never-find-one-for-the-right-price cards.

Five dollars, my friends, is the right price for me.

You'd be hard-pressed to come away from an entire card show with a haul as great as this one, and I found all these from a single table at my local flea market. It's true.

There goes the flea market blowing my mind all over again.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A day off at the flea market, Pt. 1

I've basically fallen into a set schedule of working Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at my job.

The hours are long (noon to 10 PM), but I don't mind it too much. It's not back-breaking work and it's kind of nice having the whole middle of the week set aside for school and what ever relaxation I can squeeze in.

The one drawback is that most big card events seem to take place on the weekends. Card shows, garage sale, and, yes, my local flea market, which I hadn't attended since June.

But, from what it looks like, the people at my job are pretty lenient when it comes to people needing to take a day every now and then. My dad got tickets for this past Sunday's Pirates-Cubs contest at Wrigley.

Thankfully, I was able to get Sunday off (I worked Wednesday instead), which meant I got to see a 4-0 Cubs win that featured a homer and six perfect innings from Jake Arrieta.

And, as an added bonus, I finally got to spend another beautiful afternoon under the sky of the local flea market.

Like the last time I went back in June, however, my main guy, Ron, wasn't there.

The other regular vendor was, and, although he doesn't get new stock in very often, I make an effort to find at least a small stack of cards because he's a really nice guy. He kept trying to get me to buy an entire thousand(ish)-count box from his table. The price dropped from, finally, five dollars, but I still wouldn't bite.

I've picked through most of his stuff before, and I really don't need to immerse myself in even more cards I don't need (not to mention all the sorting) at this point. In the end, I found about 30 singles to my liking, including the Jordan Zimmerman insert at the top of this post (for my new player collection of his) and these two '80s Fleer oddballs.

I may have bit on that five-dollar box offer a couple years ago, but, at this point, my already-cluttered room is much happier that I settled on just the thirty cards.

A guy in one of the last aisles of the flea market had a big box of miscellaneous pop culture items on display.

Very little of what I found was sports-related, though I did dig up a diamond in the rough with this oversized '70s TCMA oddball of the Splendid Splinter for a buck.

I also bought my dad an empty box of Welcome Back, Kotter candy (with Freddy "Boom Boom" Washington on the cover) from the guy for another dollar.

There were two huge surprises at the flea market last Sunday.

We'll get to the second of the two in the final half of this mini-series, but the first came in the unlikely form of a vendor with a lot of power tools and leaf blowers scattered around her table. To my utter surprise, I found two tubs filled with baseball cards underneath all that, tubs that looked exactly like ones I'd had in my room for at least fifteen years or so. (Kind of like this.)

It wasn't clear if the cards had been previously owned by her kid(s), husband, or whoever, but I knew she didn't have crazy prices in her head when she offered me the tubs for twenty dollars each. I, again, resisted the temptation to buy the whole thing and instead decided to pick through everything one by one.

It took a good half-hour to get through it all, and the lady was absolutely flabbergasted that anyone would take the time to sift through piles and piles and piles of individual baseball cards.

I had a pretty hefty stack of singles after all was said and done, and, because I didn't really feel like counting them all, I asked the lady if she'd take ten bucks for everything I'd picked out.

She did, and celebration ensued.

I counted the cards when I got home a few hours later, and it turned out that I'd had over 150 cards in that pile, which amounts to well under a dime per.

From what I could gather, the previous owner of those tubs seemed to have collected right around the same period that I was first breaking into the hobby, only he/she had cards from sets that I never saw as a young collector.

I always complain that I never see cards from the mid-to-late '90s in dime boxes, and then here comes a whole tub of them for me to dig through.

I could tell the cards hadn't been touched for a long time, because quite a few of them were stuck together.

Peeling such cards apart results in the "snow" that you see here. It didn't affect too many of the cards I bought (and I really don't mind it all that much on the ones that were affected), and, for some reason, I liked the idea that I was probably the first person to actually touch these cards in God knows how long.

It made me feel like some kind of cardboard crusader.

I was floored by how many quality cards I found in those tubs, and how perfectly so many of them aligned to my various collecting passions.

Mark Grace has always been one of my top-tier guys, but this one takes it a step further by featuring him on one of the greatest (and most original) insert sets of the '90s.

Besides 1995 Fleer, I'm not sure any set screams NINETIES!!!! more than '96 Metal Universe.

These cards are absolutely insane, and I kind of do and kind of don't want to meet the employee at Topps who gave the green light on this idea. (The only downside is that they don't scan very well.)

Here, you have Pudge Rodriguez attached to a test tube, Edgardo Alfonso taking a ground ball next to some kind of aquatic superhero, and veterans Lee Smith and Deion Sanders having their likenesses plastered on other cartoon craziness.

These are only a small sample of the Metals I unearthed in those tubs.

Bask in the glory of an intense action shot of David Wells...tying his shoe.

And I have no idea who Katsuhiro Maeda is, but he needs a new barber.

Like so many good dime boxes I've dug through in the past, I had no idea where these tubs were going to turn with each passing stack.

One minute, I was going through a major bout of deja vu with that Benito Santiago oddball. The next, I was being blinded by Pacific Prism.

This dig certainly kept me on my toes.

There was some high-dollar potential, too.

I noticed a lot of early '90s Bowman in these piles, and, specifically, a hefty amount of '92 Bowman, a set that famously features rookie cards of both Mariano Rivera and Mike Piazza (among others). I didn't find either of those, sadly, but I was happy to take this much-needed Scott Hatteberg rookie home with me.

I did, however, find a '92 Bowman Trevor Hoffman rookie in those tubs. I decided to tell the lady that it was kind of a valuable card, and she seemed pleased that I did.

Granted, the fact that I already own a copy of it made that decision a lot easier.

I don't know if the previous owner of these cards collected Eddie Murray, but I sure did find a lot of him in there.

The two Mets cards are treasured adds (I'm especially fond of the "Time, ump" 1994 Fleer shot). I even sprinkled in a sunset card with the '98 UD issue and a new short-term stop featuring his brief stint with the Angels.

Speaking of which...

...the mid-to-late '90s, for whatever reason, seemed like a rich time for unfamiliar uniforms.

Darryl Strawberry as a Giant and Orel Hershiser as a Met are a couple of the more famous stints to come out of that era. I'd actually been searching for that Bulldog for a while now, but, because Pacific singles are so darn hard to find, I'd come up empty.

Until Sunday, of course.

The '90s are far-and-away the most plentiful decade for my mini-collections, and you better believe these tubs had a plethora of those.

I found not one...

...but two Kirby Puckett cards I'd been eyeing for a while in the lady's stacks.

The 1997 Collector's Choice is a "SPEECH!" card (which I lump in with my "interview" mini-collection), while the one you see above is a coveted throwback.

The Womack (more Pacific...hooray!) kills two birds with one stone, in that it's a throwback and a double dip hit.

I really went to town on the double plays.

I think you can see the sheer variety of sets that I found in those tubs from this page alone. Collector's Choice. Pacific. Metal. Donruss. Stadium Club...and more.

And these aren't even all the double plays I bought.

A couple for the "play at the plate" and "at the wall" archives here.

My favorite part about that Randa is seeing all those fans in the fetal position.

Here's two star-studded additions for my "behind the camera" and "tip of the cap" collections.

If there was ever a man deserving of a tip of the cap, it was Tony Gwynn.

These two "broken bat" shots actually came out of the same stack of cards.

The Franco is an obvious one, but I had to do a double-take with the Piazza to see that it was indeed a mini-collection hit.

Those broken bats can be tough to spot some of the time.

And, like a proverbial cherry on top, these tubs did the unthinkable by knocking out a "Dime Box Dozen" need.

Between this and Jamie Moyer's '91 Stadium Club issue, I'm now fairly certain that I own the only two cards ever produced of him as a Cardinal, a team he spent just eight games with in 1991.

Digging through actual boxes is fine and good, but there was something innately fun about digging through two tubs of baseball cards at the flea market on Sunday. I got on my hands and knees to uncover some of these cards, but, seeing the payoff of all this '90s goodness, I think the work was well worth it.

But the local flea market wasn't done working its magic just yet. It was only just beginning.

I'm not usually one for cliffhangers, but...more on that in my next post.