Dime boxes never cease to surprise me.
It's not just the greatness of the cards you can find. As was the case this afternoon, it's where I find them.
There's a little annual flea market held in the parking lot of a strip mall a couple blocks from where I live. Nothing big, just a few aisles of the usual books, clothes, and everyday household items. Pretty much the normal flea market array.
I've gone every year in hopes of finding some cards, but I haven't come up with much. I recall a great table that had a great dime box once, but that had to have been four or five years ago.
Normally, I try not to get my hopes up for these types of things. But for some reason, I had a feeling that I was going to find something this time. I'm not sure why, but it felt like there was cardboard waiting for me this afternoon.
My suspicions turned out to be right.
The "B story" was finding a complete 33-card set of '91 Toys' R 'Us rookies for a quarter at one of the tables. It helped that the checklist was right on the back of the box. Once I saw the name "Olerud", I knew it was worth the quarter. Thankfully, all 33 cards were still in the box, which amounted to less than a penny per card.
I'll take that any day of the week.
The real story of the day, however, was the aforementioned dime box.
When I say "dime box", I'm sure it conjures up an image of a 3200-count box, all organized into separate columns and stacks. (At least for those who have seen a dime box before.)
This dime box was a literal "box". There were thousands upon thousands of cards thrown into a cardboard box. They were neatly organized towards the bottom of the box, but the vendor must've just said "screw it" at some point and just threw the rest of the cards on top.
At first, all I could see from the sign peeking out of the box was "Entire Box: $100". (Although the vendor later came up to me and said I could have the whole thing for twenty. I still passed.)
But then I moved a couple of the scattered cards out of the way to reveal the other half of the sign. And I found those glorious words:
"Ten cents each."
A dime box!
I was already getting geared up for all the bargain cards at the card show in six days. But here was one scattered amongst tables of cat toys and sunglasses.
In a way, the fact that this one was so unexpected made it even more of a thrill.
One of the first things I noticed as I started digging was that I found a few '82 Fleer cards with each passing stack. I figured there had to be more somewhere in the depths of the box.
Once again, I was right.
After making my way past all the football and basketball cards, I found a few big stacks of early Fleer near the very bottom. I hadn't come across many of these in dime boxes before.
While I didn't find the one card I've wanted for a while, there were still some gems to be had.
Look no further than card number 524, Pete Falcone. If there is such a thing as an "iconic" card from Fleer, this would have to be it. I'm pretty sure it's the only case of baseball cards within a baseball card in my collection.
Sort of like a "cardboard Inception", in a way.
While I don't necessarily collect either of these guys, I had to have this pair of cards.
Seriously, how was I going to pass on a dime card of a guy named Shooty Babitt?
The Wilson was a definite steal for a couple of reasons. For one, it's an "Awesome Night Card" (an especially awesome one if you ask me).
What really makes this card for me is the fact that the shot captures Wilson in mid-interview. I've noticed a few similar cards throughout my collection, and they're all great. (Like this one.)
A microphone on a baseball card is a plus.
On that note, is Mr. Babitt wearing one of those clip-on mics there?
Here's some more '82 Fleer greatness.
Lowenstein is one of the more recent guys I've decided to collect. From what I've read, "quirky" doesn't even begin to describe his personality.
If anyone were to start a "frazzled hair" collection, that Lowenstein would probably be a good start.
Although it looks as though the photographer caught Amos Otis a little off-guard, his '82 Fleer issue is still a thing of beauty.
I don't know that I've ever seen the "Green Monster" displayed better on a baseball card.
From what I've heard of his TV broadcasts, Gary Matthews genuinely loves the game of baseball.
When I see that a Phillies game is coming up on the MLB Network, I make it a point to tune in so I can hear "Sarge" do the play-by-play. Some ex-ballplayers have been disasters in the booth over the years (although some manage to somehow keep their jobs for a long, long time), but Matthews definitely isn't one of them.
I never used to like multi-player cards. In recent years, I've realized that they can make for some great photos, if they're done right.
I think it's safe to say that Fleer "got one right" with the amazing All-Star duo of "The Kid" and "The Cobra".
I also managed to nab a few '91 Upper Deck dime cards.
For some reason, I'm still missing a lot of cards I need from UD's earlier issues. As a result, I might be one of the last collectors who still gets excited over finding scattered piles of 1990 or '91 Upper Deck cards in a box.
While I don't really collect him, I couldn't pass up that Moyer card. It looks like he's about ready to take in a wonderful afternoon of baseball from the dugout. (Something he's still doing 21 years later.)
I simply thought the Mayne card was funny. I doubt that a collector had ever gotten more up-close-and-personal with a player's shin guards ever before.
A laugh is well worth a dime.
However, the majority of the dime cards I found came from 1995 Collector's Choice.
Rarely had I come across anything from this set before. The only specific ties I have to Collector's Choice is one of the few good memories from my old college.
After my roommate found out I collected cards (they were scattered all around the dorm), he brought a couple stacks of them to show me one week. Of course, he wanted to know if they were worth anything. Sadly, I had to tell him that they weren't worth much.
However, he did have a couple cards I wanted, and he was nice enough to let me pick out a few. Most of the ones I got were from this very set. I even scored a "zero-year" card out of the ordeal.
Up until this afternoon, I hadn't thought much about Collector's Choice. However, I quickly realized that this was a quirky (and underrated) set.
Even though I'd never heard of Phil Leftwich before, I couldn't pass this one up.
I'd like to know what the premise was behind that particular shot.
Neither of these cards will go in my binder, but they were still well worth a dime.
Perhaps the Rijo could be a contestant in the "four eyes" countdown that Night Owl brings up from time to time.
At first, the Leskanic might just look like your everyday boring posed card. But then I noticed the name tag, which doesn't even have his name on it.
It's just a series of random numbers. What gives?
I guess people can name their kids anything these days.
And then there's this one.
I don't really know what more I could add to it.
Let's just appreciate the creepy greatness that lies within this card.
How many cards have guys going through their pre-game running drills?
This is the only one I've ever seen.
Plus, I've always thought that a hilly spring training site would make for a terrific backdrop on a baseball card. Once again, my feelings were right.
If you look closely, I'm sure you'll find a couple kids rolling down that hill.
I know it's all I ever wanted to do when I was young.
While Eddie Murray "assumes" that record, is it safe to assume that this is one of the greatest checklist cards ever made?
I think so.
Besides a few cards of Rickey Henderson, I can only think of one other card in my collection where a player is physically holding a base.
As some of my regular readers might know, I absolutely love cards of pitchers at the plate.
Even more rare than a hitting pitcher is an American League hitting pitcher, as we have with the Steve Karsay. (He only made four career plate appearances, never getting a hit.)
And as if that wasn't enough, Karsay didn't even play in '95 due to injury.
Needless to say, it was one of my better finds of the afternoon.
It's hard to believe that it's been ten years since the tragic passing of Darryl Kile.
Even though I was only ten years old at the time, I still have a vivid memory of that day. I'll never forget it.
I knew this was my new favorite Darryl Kile card at first sight. (For the record, Kile was a .132 career hitter, although he did blast two homers and drive in 40 runs with the Astros, Rockies, and Cardinals.)
Position players would be lucky to have such a great shot for their baseball card.
Even with all the great dime cards I've already shown in this post, I think I have to give this one "Find of the Day" honors.
Amazingly, none of my Joe Carter cards capture the immediate aftermath of his famous homer in the '93 World Series. I would think that card companies were chomping at the bit to use a shot like this at the time.
I always daydreamed about being a Joe Carter-like hero during my Little League days. Hitting the dramatic homer to clinch the championship for me and my teammates, the crowd roaring in the background.
While that never actually happened, something like this is pretty much what I had in mind.
It might just be the best "moment in time" card in my collection.
All in all, I bought fifty dime cards. Paired with the Toys' R' Us set I mentioned earlier, I spent a paltry $5.25 on cardboard this afternoon.
A small price to pay for such greatness.
Never did I think I'd come across a dime box at such an innocent little local gathering. I was literally on my hands and knees at times while I was digging through these. After all, it was the only way I was going to uncover the greats like Falcone and Fassero that were hiding near the bottom of the box. (Although I can't imagine what other people must've thought as they walked by.)
At one point during my "dig", a nice lady came up to me. While pointing at the box, she said:
"This is where you find the goldmines."
I can't put it much better than that.