Sunday, October 21, 2012
A flea market farewell
I don't want summer to be over just yet.
My calendar tried to convince me that summertime ended last month. The leafless trees and my return to school attempted to do the same.
Still, I could always look to the local flea market and say, "Summer is still here."
The "flea market chronicles" I've written over the past six months have been among my favorite posts to write on this blog. I'm glad I was able to share to joys of it with my fellow readers this year.
As a result, it disappoints me to say that this will be the last flea market post of 2012. This afternoon marked the last time I'd be able to attend before it closes up shop for the winter.
I did my best to make it count. Once we get further along in this post, I think you'll see why.
For now, let's focus on the first of the regular flea market card vendors.
As I mentioned in my last flea market post, this particular dealer doesn't get many new cards in from week to week. Still, he's always been nice enough to cut me a deal on whatever dime cards I buy, so I try and make an effort to buy something every time I go.
A little non-sports box is one of the regular features of his table. Before this week, I figured I'd picked through it a while ago.
One of the rows was filled with "historical" cards, most of which I had already. The other seemed to be comprised of cartoonish-like cards, something in which I've never had much interest.
This week, I decided to do a quick flip through those "cartoon" cards, just to see what the heck they were.
To my surprise, a few of them actually had ballplayers on them.
A closer examination informed me that these were from the 1990 Upper Deck "Looney Tunes" set, one that was new to me. Since Reggie Jackson was basically the "poster boy" in UD's early stages, it's only fitting that he's a main attraction of these.
While I'm not usually a fan of "cartoon" cards, I'll be the first to admit that these are actually pretty cool.
They're definitely "dime box gems" in my book.
The other prominent focus of this "looney" set is none other than Nolan Ryan.
From what I've seen and heard about his more "hard-nosed" personality, Ryan doesn't exactly seem like the type of guy who'd be involved in something like this.
That's what makes these all the more awesome.
They'll definitely make for some fun additions to my binders.
Between Tweety Bird and giant gloves, this dime box sure wasn't lacking in comedy.
I'd seen this card in the guy's dime boxes before. For some reason, I never managed to pull the trigger on it.
Until today, that is.
Despite that fact that Jason Michaels isn't in my binders, this was a must-have piece of cardboard.
I've found myself hunting for more simple, awesome, and just plain "cool" cards in the past few months.
It's safe to say that both of these belong in that category.
As far as I'm concerned, A&G's peak came in 2008. Others have come close, but nothing has been able to match the greatness of '08.
I think the Neshek is a good example of why that is.
In fact, I'm inducting him into my binders because that card absolutely needs to be displayed in a nine-pocket page.
Normally, it's hard to get excited about manager cards.
There's been a few "gems" in that department, but they're few and far between in the grand scheme of things.
Even though this one features a fairly lackluster manager in Don Wakamatsu, I can't stop staring at it. A measly dime was a small price to pay for such a masterpiece.
This is one of the greatest manager cards ever made, without a doubt.
All in all, I purchased around fifty cards from the vendor this time around, a group of cardboard that only cost me four bucks in the end.
Money well spent.
For those of you who have been to a flea market before, you've probably seen the "little of everything" that they can hold.
I have no idea how people accumulate so much extra stuff to sell at these things.
One of the tables I passed had everything from tools to clothes to lightbulbs.
And, surprisingly, baseball cards.
For just fifty cents, I was able to nab a complete set of '95 Post.
Even though I didn't know exactly what would be inside, it was at least worth a shot for that price.
I'm glad I pulled the trigger.
They were well worth a couple quarters.
As I found out, they were postcard-like in nature. Although they were all airbrushed in some way, shape, or form, a few managed to do a better job of covering it up than others.
The Piazza was probably my favorite from the 16-card set.
It doesn't get much better than an oversized "play at the plate".
Let's get on with the serious business, though.
The reason I keep coming back to the flea market from week to week is to dig through the discount boxes of one of the main vendors.
My finds from his table have found their way into every flea market post I've written so far.
This time was no different.
Unfortunately, his dime boxes were still missing in action, as they were the last time I'd attended.
Once again, though, I managed to find more than enough from his other cards to keep me happy.
I knew this one of "The Mick" enjoying his Triple Crown needed to be in my collection the moment I saw it.
Not bad for fifty cents.
Here's a couple from the same set, this time from the quarter bin.
As is the case with the previous card of Mantle, I've always been a fan of players showcasing their awards on cardboard. Because of that, buying the card on the right was a no-brainer.
The one on the left, however, was a different story.
I nearly put it back in the box. After all, the card doesn't actually picture "Joltin' Joe". Plus, the cropping job on it isn't exactly ideal.
Yet something about that card drew my interest. It certainly captures a defining moment in baseball history, seeing as it features the day Joe DiMaggio returned from World War II.
Because of that, I couldn't bring myself to pass it up.
An event like that deserves better than being a part of a forgotten quarter box.
Between "The Yankee Clipper", "The Iron Man", and "Say Hey", the stars just kept on coming.
A Ripken collector would've had a field day with the guy's quarter boxes. About half the box was comprised of his stuff.
Although I don't collect Ripken, that "Dream Team" card of his is perfect for my collection of anything and everything "odd".
I'm not exactly sure what that train has do do with the "Iron Man", but it sure makes for a neat backdrop.
As I was gearing up to purchase my finds, I noticed something off to the side.
A large 500-count box with the word "Closeout!" written in big, bold letters. Usually, those types of deals are relegated to overproduction-era cardboard.
To my surprise, this one was comprised entirely of 1983 and '84 Topps singles, years which aren't as plentiful in my collection as I'd like.
At the more-than-fair price of three bucks, I figured it was at least worth a look. A deal that sweet doesn't come along too often.
Once I got home, I dug into it with gusto.
It didn't take long to find one of my most wanted "sunset" cards with this '83 Topps Bobby Murcer.
As it turned out, the Murcer was the best of the bunch.
Most of it was comprised of fairly run-of-the-mill commons, which is pretty much what I was expecting. Just digging into all that early '80s cardboard was well worth the three bucks to me.
New cards for my binders, like the Kuiper and Lopes, were just icing on the cake.
If this afternoon's entire flea market experience had only involved everything I've shown so far, it would've been a bit of a letdown for me.
My "finds" up to this point were great, but still less than what my Sunday afternoons at the flea market usually hold.
Luckily, a couple "glass case" cards from the regular vendor more than saved the day.
Most of the time, my budget isn't expansive enough for me to go too crazy with the more expensive pieces of cardboard.
The ones in the glass case.
Usually, I hold onto a little bit of cash, just in case I happen to come across another unexpected card vendor later on in the flea market.
Outside of the Post set I featured earlier, all the cardboard I found came from the two regular vendors this afternoon.
That turned out to be a good thing.
After all, it allowed me to score an awesome 1966 Topps Don Drysdale. A fairly well-conditioned one, at that.
It looks unbelievably awesome next to my '66 Sandy Koufax on the "wall of cards" that hang in my room.
I actually had to make a return to the table in order to purchase the Drysdale.
That's because I'd already spent a good percentage of my daily budget on something else a little earlier...
This is one of those cards I never thought I'd own.
Although I've seen this card many, many times before, the thought of adding it to my collection seemed like a longshot.
Yet for just seven bucks, the impossible happened. I actually became the proud new owner of a 1969 Topps Hank Aaron.
Although it ate up about a third of the day's budget, I never had to think twice about buying it.
In the trips to the flea market this year, I've managed to add a '65 "Yaz", a '66 Drysdale, and a '69 Hank Aaron to my collection, as well as countless other great pieces of cardboard that have all received a good home.
For now, though, I'll just have to accept the fact that my summer is over. I hope you all enjoyed reading through my flea market finds from the last few months.
It's been fun.
Safe to say, I'm going to miss the flea market.
I'm going to miss it a lot.