Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Card shows and me, Pt. 3: Playing the oldies

Against all odds, the card you see above became one of my better finds of Saturday's card show.

No, I haven't decided to build a 1959 Topps set. Even if I was, I think I'd have to draw the line on condition here.

No, I haven't had a sudden surge in passion for the Philadelphia Phillies. I have a passing interest in the franchise, at best.

And no, I have never, ever heard of Seth Morehead. Given his 5-19 record over five big league seasons, I know I'm not the only one.

I probably know what you're thinking.

"How could a creased, beaten, and three-cornered card of a 1950's no-namer be one of his 'better finds' of a card show? Has this 'dime box' guy finally lost it?"

No, I haven't lost it. Not yet, anyways.

Remember how I said it was one of the cards I "found" during my card show experience?

I didn't mean it in the usual cardboard sense, conveying that I discovered it amongst stacks of other otherwise unspectacular vintage.

No, I meant it in the purest sense of the word.

I literally "found" it.

First, a quick note: To get to the big card show convention hall, my dad and I take a bus and train there and back.

On the way back, I was ecstatic. As usual, I had my bulging bag full of cards in my hand, reminding me of what a spectacular day it had been.

Unfortunately, I was also just coming to grips that the show itself was now over. Those would be the last cards I'd find that day.

However, the cardboard gods had a special surprise for me.

As my dad and I approached the train platform, we noticed something sitting underneath one of the benches. Only when we sat down did we first realize what it was.

The very Seth Morehead card you see above.

It must've been a "straggler" from someone else's day at the show. I can only imagine how long it was sitting on the pavement, unnoticed.

I knew I couldn't just leave it there. I'm not sure why, but I just didn't think it'd be right. As a result, I threw it in my bag, thinking I could find some type of use for it.

In the hours following, it was basically an afterthought of the day as a whole.

However, as I began to reflect on it more and more, I realized just how special of a card it really was. Perhaps not the actual card itself, but rather the idea of it.

I literally "saved" this card from a slimy, disgusting life on a train platform. Anyone who has been on those things with regularity probably knows how unpleasant they can be, especially in the Chicago area.

In a way, it's a microcosm of my collecting philosophy.

My binders are like a "shelter" for unwanted, forgotten cardboard. I don't think that's ever been more apparent than with the tale of Mr. Morehead.

That's why this was one of my better "finds" of the day.

Yes, I did "save" a whole bunch of nice vintage in the other, more conventional sense of the term, which you'll soon see in the final installment of Saturday's pickups.

I save these for last because I know just how much many of my fellow bloggers enjoy vintage. Judging from the amount of feedback I got on my first card show post, though, dime boxes might be nipping on its heels. (Apparently, there's not a ton of love for the 12/$1 and quarter boxes, though.)

I like to think that this blog has played a small role in that, although perhaps that's just wishful thinking.

For now, vintage will continue to close out my card show posts.

Judging from the "oldies" I discovered this time around, I probably saved the best for last.

The first vintage sighting of the day came in just the second aisle of the convention hall, a few steps down from the quarter boxes I showcased yesterday.

I'm all for boxes that have organized, neatly stacked cards inside.

Once in a while, though, it's good to have absolute madness when digging for cards.

This table never fails to provide that. They've been at the last couple shows with their usual gigantic, scattered bin of vintage. (I was going to have my dad take a picture of that as well, but it slipped my mind.)

It might sound like a challenge to some, but it's a whole lot of fun when you see it in-person. Grab a handful of cards, sift through, put them back. Repeat.

Please forgive me, but I'd like to go on a small rant here. Not about the cards, of course.

It's about one of the more annoying and frustrating qualities this particular vendor seems to have. He did it back in July, too.

I'm not trying to be mean or anything, but the guy seems like he's in his whole little world when customers are actually at his table, waiting to buy something. I tried saying "Excuse me" a couple times, but still nothing. From what I saw, he was totaling up his profits for the day or something, completely oblivious to the rest of the show.

I was standing there for a good three minutes. He had to see me sometime.

I have a feeling I would've been there forever if one of the other vendors at the table didn't notice my impatience.

A quick note to all potential vendors out there: At least acknowledge the customer when they walk up to your table and be ready when they want to finalize the deal.

That's part of becoming a "vendor", after all.

Rant over. Sorry about that.

Still, I couldn't be too annoyed when I was walking away with my pickups from that table.

This neat Post card of Hall of Famer Robin Roberts only set me back a mere buck-fifty.

Plus, two bucks was a small price to pay for my new oldest Johnny Bench card.

There was also one last "find" at this table, one which was easily the best and priciest purchase of the entire day.

Again, though, you know me.

We'll be saving that for last.

After a couple vintage-depraived aisles, I came across a small fifty-cent bin.

I know I brag about finding 250 cards at a certain table or about coming home with over 700 cards from a show.

I absolutely love coming home with stack upon stack of "keeper" cardboard.

But, believe me, it's not all about the quantity. Not in the least.

When all is said and done, it's the quality that matters. I've never bought cards for the sole purpose of simply buying cards. I have a use in mind for every dime I spend and every card I acquire.

Why bring this up now?

Well, because I bought a grand total of six cards at this table. Three dollars' worth of cardboard.

It doesn't matter whether it's six cards or two hundred cards. I'm extremely pleased with any table that allows me to add to my collection.

Without that fifty-cent bin, I wouldn't have been able to acquire a fantastic new addition to my Seattle Pilots collection.

Before the appearance of this Kellogg's card of Don Mincher, I had no idea that any non-Topps Pilots issues existed.

Keep an eye out for these Kellogg's things.

They're about to become a recurring theme here.

Without that group of fifty-cent cards, I wouldn't have been able to fill one of the gaping holes in my Joe Morgan collection.

Or nab a beautiful O-Pee-Chee card of "Mr. October".

Like I said, it's not the quantity that matters.

I still had a huge smile on my face after I walked away with those six cards.

Now, let's move on to those fateful 12/$5 vintage boxes.

The table where my dad snapped that terrific "in-action" photo of me.

This box could easily be classified under the "nicely sorted" files, as each section was classified by year. A dream come true for potential set builders, I'm sure.

I'm not sure exactly where I was in my "dig" when my dad took that shot, but there's a good chance it was while I was perusing the section labeled "1965".

It was the first one I went to, given that '65 is my all-time favorite vintage design and all.

At the bargain-basement price, much of the boxes consisted of no-namers. That's to be expected.

Still, upon closer inspection, there were a few "names" inside.

You're not going to find a Hank Aaron or anything in one of these types of deals, but there are still quite a few recognizable faces to be had.

Take a guy like Milt Pappas, for instance. Not a Hall-of-Fame-type pitcher, by any means.

Still, most old-time baseball fans at least know the name. He's a prominent member of my binders, as well as the subject of one of the all-time greatest "sunset" cards in existence.

I'll definitely take anything of his for about forty-two cents.

Especially when we're talking 1965 Topps.

If there's such a thing as "cult favorites" among baseball fans, I have a feeling that both Jay Johnstone and Rusty Staub would be somewhere in that fold.

Johnstone's nickname of "Moon Man" was no accident. He was well known for his crazy antics in his time. That '67 Topps issue is his rookie card. Fairly well-conditioned, too.

I wonder if they called him "Moon Man" back in 1967.

The U.S. hadn't even sent a man to the moon at that point.

While I saw the inclusion of a few late '50s cards in the boxes, I figured most of the "names" were relegated to the '60s issues.

Wrong again.

Besides simply being cool pieces of vintage, both of these also take their places in my "sunset" collection as well.

Of course, Mr. Pafko is well-known across collecting circles. A little paper loss on the back was why that one found its way into the discount bin.

On the other hand, I have no good reason as to how the Sauer met such a fate. For a card that's over fifty years old, it's not in that bad of shape.

I guess some mysteries are better left unsolved.

All in all, I found 14 vintage pieces from the bins. The guy only charged me five bucks for them, letting me have those last two for free.

While I was on my "treasure hunt", my dad walked up to the vendor and bought an extra-special card for me at an extra-special price.

Of course, I'm not ready to show that one just yet.

Patience, dear readers.

Finally, we have come to the most consistent of all my card show "treasures".

The two-dollar box.

It's been prominently featured in both my March and July recaps of this show.

Thankfully, it was back for Saturday's installment as well.

It's one of the biggest tables at the show, stretching as far as the eye can see. And it's absolutely mobbed every time.

As had happened in both March in July, my dad and I had to skip the table upon our first encounter with it. There was just nowhere to squeeze in.

Later in the day, as people were beginning to file out of the hall, we happily found the two-dollar boxes unoccupied, all ours.

I spent the last of my dad's generous "grant money" at this table.

It was the last stop of the day.

Almost instantly, I found the first "gem" of the adventure. A 1969 Topps "Deckle Edge" Bob Gibson. One of my all-time favorite pitchers featured on one of my all-time favorite oddball designs.

I gladly forked over a couple bucks for that.

In continuing with the "oddball" theme, here's a couple 1971 Kellogg's cards.

By Beckett's standards, I may have slightly overpaid for these two. You know what I think of "Beckett's standards", though.

When it comes to the Alou brothers, I'm like a hurricane. Whether it's Felipe, Matty, or Jesus, I suck up absolutely everything of theirs within sight. I just can't let anything Alou-related slip through my fingertips.

It's the same thing with Jose Cardenal.

Speaking of which...

I have long wanted to add a copy of this one to my collection.

Given the scarcity and sheer aggravation of early '70s high-numbers, I figured it would stay as just that. A "want".

Yet, by some miraculous fate, Cardenal's 1972 "Traded" issue found its way into that two-dollar bin.

I'd seen copies of it at other shows with eight or ten-dollar price tags. In fact, I almost pulled the trigger on one of them last year.

In hindsight, I guess it's a good thing I waited.

The two-dollar bins have a ton of '50s and early '60s cards inside.

However, a nice chunk of them are no-namers. They're mainly there for set builders, especially given the inclusion of quite a few high-numbers.

For a collector like myself, the late '60s and early '70s stacks are where I find the "good stuff".

I don't know that two guys define "good stuff" more than "Hammerin' Hank" and "Say Hey".

True, the condition on the Aaron isn't the greatest. Even so, I never thought twice about buying it.

Creased or not, I wasn't about to let a card of one of the greats slip through my hands. Especially one that features him on my third-favorite Topps design. (Behind '65 and '75, for the record.)

Other than some barely visible writing near the top, there really isn't that much wrong with the Mays. It's a historic card, given that it would be the last time Topps would feature him as a Giant.

Two bucks was a small price to pay for this pair.

These rounded out my two-dollar box experience.

Between that one and the '66 issue I picked up a couple months ago, I've been on an absolute roll with Mr. Drysdale lately.

Somehow, I'd never seen a copy of that '74 "Yaz" before Saturday. Not in-person, not on the blogs, and not anywhere else on the Internet.

I can't help but wonder what else is out there, just waiting to be discovered.

I'm starting to realize something.

The two-dollar boxes might not even be the best part of this table.

Off in the distance, the vendor had another couple small boxes with the word "Bargains!" written above them. They've been there at the last couple shows, but I'd never dug through them with too much conviction.

This time, though, I made an effort to dig deep. I wanted to see just how great these "bargains" really were.

Since each card is individually priced, a whole lot of mystery and wonder goes into these things.

So, just how good were the "bargains"? 

I think I'll let the cards speak to that.

First, we have a long-awaited need of mine with the '76 Topps Aaron "Record Breaker" shown above. 

Anything featuring Hank Aaron in a Brewers uniform makes for a great piece to my "unfamiliar uniform" collection.

Plus, it's awesome because, well...

...it's Hank Aaron, for goodness sake.

Maybe there is a place for unpriced cards in this hobby.

I was a little worried when I saw the lack of a price tag on this one. I'd purchased the Archives reprint of it from that quarter box near the beginning of the day.

Adding the actual card to my collection would've been about a thousand times sweeter.

Because of that, I was fully ready to spend a couple bucks on it. Whatever it took.

Once again, a huge grin ran across my face when the vendor uttered those fateful words.

"Fifty cents."


I went a little "oddball crazy" at Saturday's show.

They just kept popping up left and right. Even the vendor commented on my interest in them when I went to pay for my "finds".

When I saw each of these '68 Topps "Game" issues with twenty-five cent price tags, I couldn't help myself.

"Bargains" in every sense of the word.

Nope, we're not done with the oddballs just yet.

I managed to pick up a these two spiffy "Deckle Edge" cards for just a buck each. 

The deals just kept adding up.

Even with all the fantastic Kellogg's cards I bought, this one has to take the cake.

Although it has seen its better days, a buck was an absolute steal for a 3-D issue of "Mr. Cub" himself.

To my knowledge, Banks didn't have any cards issued in '72, which would classify this as one of his "sunset" issues.

Even more reason to love it.

Let's close out the "bargains" with a couple cards of another prominent Cubbie, none other than Billy Williams.

At just a buck, the '72 Williams will look spectacular next to my "in-action" card of his from the same set, a Christmas gift from my dad last year.

I'm just stating the obvious here, but the '63 is one beautiful piece of cardboard.

At three bucks, it was tied for my second most expensive purchase of the day.

Well worth it, though.

So, yes, judging from what I found inside those couple boxes, I think the "bargain" label fits rather nicely.

Now, I think it's time to reveal my two greatest finds of the entire show.

The ones I left you waiting on earlier in this post.

I've let the suspense hold long enough, so I won't drag this out.

This was the one my dad snuck off to buy at the 12/$5 boxes.

At a couple of the past shows, I'd noticed that the vendor had a '77 Fidrych cloth sticker on display. At nine bucks, I felt it was a bit overpriced.

So I didn't pull the trigger.

Going into this show, though, I thought enough was enough. Nine bucks or not, I needed to have that card in my collection. 

Of course, when we got to the table this time around, it was gone. 

While I was going through the 12/$5 boxes, my dad walked over and asked the vendor if he had any available copies of the Fidrych that we'd previously seen, by chance.

From what my dad told me, the guy dug through one of his binders and pulled out a copy of it.

Seconds later, my dad proudly walked back to my seat, showcasing the newest piece to the collection.

A real, actual 1977 Topps Mark Fidrych cloth sticker!

The kicker?

It only cost three bucks.

I'm not quite sure how it went from nine bucks to three. There's no discernible condition issues with my copy.

I could care less, though.

It's mine!

So, what could possibly beat that one out, you ask?

Well, try this one.

One of my longest "quests" has been to add a real Topps card of "Stan the Man" to the collection.

Trouble was, most were a tad out of my price range.

When I uncovered this one from that big bin I described near the beginning of this post, I considered my options.

On the one hand, it was the Stan Musial card I'd wanted for so long. At fifteen bucks, it was among the cheaper cards of his I'd seen.

On the other hand, fifteen bucks sure was a lot to blow so early into the show. I hadn't spent that much money on a single card in years...

Ah, who was I kidding?

I bought it.

Any dissenting voices in my mind quickly faded away when I became the proud owner of a beautiful 1961 Topps Stan Musial.

You have no idea how honored I am to have this one in my collection.

"Stan the Man" is like cardboard royalty.

Well, that about does it.

I hope you enjoyed my ramblings about my glorious card-filled Saturday afternoon. 

From Morehead to Musial, it sure was a blast for me. I'll tell you that.

As has become the norm on this blog, I'd like to close by thanking my dad for all his help.

Without him, there's a good chance I wouldn't have been able to afford most of the cards you saw in this post. Heck, without his stories of collecting as a kid in the 1970's, I don't know that I'd even be interested in vintage.

Thanks to him, though, I'm an avid vintage supporter.

Sometimes, I ask him whether he remembers a certain card from his youth. He almost always does. He has fond memories of that '77 Gary Carter.

I guess my interest in baseball cards is a way of reminiscing for him.

Because of that, I tend not to think of the cards I own as my collection.

It's our collection.


Dhoff said...

Great finds. Love that Fidrych. And how cool that you actually found a card.

night owl said...

My favorites of those are the '62 Drysdale, the '72 Traded Cardenal and the '72 Mays.

Of course, all three are on my want list. Funny how that happens.

AdamE said...

The reaso I didn'comment yesterday wasn't because I don't like dime cards. It was the lack of Red Sox.

I once went to a card show and couldn't buy a card from a vendor because the guy was asleep in his chair. Pretty sure I wrote a post on it long ago.

arpsmith said...

Great pick ups Nick! I am so jealous of the shows in your area. There is really nothing in Southern CA. I miss the days of digging through stacks of cards to uncover treasures like these. I have to agree that your top 2 were pretty amazing.

Mike said...

I had a great time,as always,pal....I thought of all those crazy folks waiting in line to shell out 300+ bucks to get Shaq's autograph while you were sweating the 15 bucks for the Musial card!...those autograph prices are insane!

Mark Kaz said...

You made the right call with the '61 Musial!