As of about six o'clock this morning, I am officially back home.
While it's nice to be writing this post from the comfort of my own bed, I'm sad that my grand spring break is over.
As you might guess, Las Vegas was an absolute blast.
While I'm probably the opposite of what you'd call a "party animal", I couldn't help but enjoy a few of the 21-and-over privileges that go along with a trip to Vegas. Although I lost a decent chunk of my gambling cash, I did enjoy a fair share of free drinks from the casinos.
On top of that, my grandfather lives in Vegas. Given that neither my dad nor I get to see him all that much, it was fantastic visiting him on the last day of our trip.
However, I think the highlight of the vacation involved the very photo you see above. For those of you who aren't familiar with him, that's yours truly with Penn Jillette, part of the Penn & Teller duo.
Knowing that I'd always been a huge fan of theirs, my dad surprised me with a couple of tickets to their show at the Rio. To top it off, Penn was gracious enough to sign autographs and snap photos outside of the theater after the fact.
I said it about ten times during the trip, and I'll say it again.
I still can't believe I got to meet Penn!
For now, though, let's get back to what I was doing the day before I left for vacation.
I was at a card show.
Yes, I even brought my finds with me to Vegas. Rehashing all my card show glories filled what little down time there was during my three days of paradise.
As has become custom with my posts of this sort, we'll kick off this four-part recap with a trip through the dime boxes.
While the dime selections were probably a little weaker than the past few mega-shows, I still managed to find quite a few diamonds in the rough.
After all, that's what my collection is all about.
As was the case with November's show, the very first table my dad and I stopped at had a glorious dime box on display.
After entering the gigantic convention hall, I immediately saw that familiar sign.
"All Cards: 10 Cents".
Naturally, I wandered over to the table and started digging. Those signs are like tractor beams to me.
The overarching "theme" of this particular dime bin became evident fairly quickly. It was a "latest-and-greatest" type of batch.
While I love dime bins that feature a little of everything, these are always nice to stumble across. Thanks to the "latest-and-greatest" bins, I know I don't have to drop the money on a "Living Legend" blaster at Target.
They'll all just wind up in dime boxes eventually.
While I wasn't impressed with what I'd seen from these "All Rose, All the Time" cards, I'll admit this triple bat barrel card of "Charlie Hustle" is pretty awesome.
After all is said and done, that's about three cents per barrel.
For a dime a piece, I managed to knock out a few of my dwindling Panini Cooperstown needs as well.
Connie Mack certainly looked fashionable back in the day.
These are quickly becoming dime box staples.
From what I've witnessed, Goodwin Champions has earned the "cast-off" label in the world of cardboard. I've seen stacks upon stacks of them in dime boxes during the last couple shows.
While largely forgettable, there are a few gems to be found within the checklist. The spiffy John McGraw is certainly one of those in my eyes.
That Brian Bosworth sure isn't, though.
I'm not even sure why I bought it.
I haven't bought a pack of anything Bowman-related for at least five years.
More than any other brand, I've found that Bowman is most likely to wind up in dime boxes after all the initial hype of each coming release ends.
While I'm not hell-bent on acquiring Bowman Platinum or Bowman Chrome cards for my various player collections, I'll still scoop them up for a dime any day of the week.
Besides, the Uggla is a nice "throwback" piece, to boot.
As I mentioned in my preview post, though, the unquestioned highlight of this particular dime box was its inclusion of Panini Golden Age singles.
My dig through those stacks confirmed my suspicion.
Logo-less photos aside, Panini Golden Age features one of the most fitting checklists for my collecting preferences.
My non-baseball pickups included both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Loch Ness Monster, W.H. Kellogg, and Marsha Brady...I mean, Maureen McCormick.
For just sixty cents, I managed to pick up six of the eight "Black Sox" cards within the set. With the "centerpiece" Lefty Williams, I now own at least one solo card of each of the eight blackballed members of that infamous squad.
On top of all that, Golden Age went a long way in quenching my need for "legendary" cardboard. The last few years of Topps have left a gaping hole in that regard.
After all was said and done, I walked away with 76 cards from this table. At least half of those were from the Golden Age brand.
I couldn't be happier about that.
While "latest-and-greatest" dime boxes are great, I probably get a wee bit more enjoyment from digging through a "little of everything" bin.
Luckily, I stumbled upon one of those about halfway through the show.
The guy who had this dime box on display has become a bit of a regular at the last few gatherings. Given his diverse selection of cardboard, he's quickly cemented himself as an "All-Star" vendor in my book.
While this show didn't yield its usual dozens of Vlad-based cardboard, I still managed to pick up a few nifty ones for my binders.
For better or worse, I've always been a sucker for see-through pieces.
At just a dime, this one was an absolute no-brainer.
One of the more redeeming qualities of this particular dig was its knack for late '90s cardboard.
Pardon my language, but anything from that era has been an absolute bitch to find from my experience.
What makes it even more aggravating is the fact that the era featured a huge amount of fantastic photography, especially within the Stadium Club brand.
I think Mr. Lofton here is proof of that.
For whatever reason, this particular dime box dig seemed to uncover quite a few Indians pieces.
The first few handfuls of cards I flipped through were almost entirely comprised of the Tribe.
Although I've never been that interested in the franchise, this experience allowed me to add a boatload of great pieces to my Indians binder.
While I found quite a few new Andre Thorntons, Julio Francos, and Dave Winfields in the process, these were easily among my favorite pieces of Indian cardboard of the day.
Apparently, the headlock is a common form of affection in Cleveland.
Although most collectors probably think I'm crazy, I absolutely love digging through overproduction-era cardboard.
After all, there are a ton of "gems" that I haven't yet discovered.
This particular dime box dig resulted in a stack of new early '90s Score pieces for my collection.
In a way, I guess it's fitting that I found that Frank Thomas card. As my dad and I were entering the convention hall, we saw a guy wielding one of those gigantic bats, tricked out with quite a few signatures.
It's good to see that Score had a sense of humor with their photo selection.
To add to the fun, this dime box also featured a few newer pieces as well.
My eyes gleamed when I saw that sparkly Jonny Gomes parallel at such a terrific price. I'm a big fan of his, and that Topps Update issue ended up being Gomes's only card in 2012.
I've never opened a pack of Topps Pro Debut. I don't intend to in the future, either. Still, while I'm not much on "prospects", I'm always happy to add them to my binders.
As one of my newer "binder inductees", my Will Middlebrooks collection is in its early stages. For a dime, his Pawtucket Red Sox piece from Pro Debut was a fun find.
I'm still not buying a pack of the stuff, though.
Over the last few shows, a new little "dime box habit" has overcome me.
Almost involuntarily, I've constantly found myself picking up rookie cards of once-hot prospects who didn't quite pan out.
I'm sure that Topps Traded Rocco Baldelli rookie went for quite a few smackers back in the day. Now, it's pure dime box material.
Ben Sheets did have quite a few good years, but injuries turned his once-promising career into a "what could have been" story.
No matter how their careers turned out, though, they'll always be welcome in my collection.
Although I don't collect Chipper Jones, I had to pounce on this one for a dime.
Only in this hobby can you buy a "masterpiece" for loose change.
I'm liking 2006 Upper Deck more by the minute.
My recent dime box searches have resulted in quite a few excellent pieces. While the 1000-card-plus checklist is its main drawing card, the photography within the set is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
These are only a couple of the terrific UD cards I plucked from this dime box.
Just look at the anticipation on the faces of those Yankee fans.
As has become the norm with my latest dime box digs, I found quite a few additions to my various "mini-collections" from this vendor.
I'd never even seen this fantastic "multiple exposure" card of the late Jose Lima before Saturday.
In addition to all the terrific finds I'll be featuring over the next few days, I uncovered a stack of new cards that should make their way into my future outgoing trade packages.
Initially, this was supposed to be one of those. Once I saw the Blue Jays insignia, I instantly thought of the couple Jays collectors in the blogosphere.
However, upon reviewing the day's finds, I fell in love with this one. As one of the more beautiful "autograph" cards I've ever come across, I just couldn't bring myself to part with it.
Sorry, Jays fans.
As you probably know by now, I'm an avid "pitcher at the plate" and "throwback" supporter.
Mr. Maddux looks to have his bunting form down pat.
These "cards with kids" are quickly rising up my mini-collection depth chart.
If you were to ask them, I'm sure both Shawon Dunston and Fred McGriff would rate these as their proudest moments on cardboard. (Given that they're aware of them in the first place.)
They're among the most special pieces a card company can produce.
Technically, I guess you could place my Hall of Famer cards under the "mini-collection" category.
In reality, though, it's anything but "mini". My dime box travels over the years have netted thousands upon thousands of new HOFers for my binders.
As you can see above (and with a few of the other cards I've featured thus far), this show continued the trend.
To me, few joys are better than finding a brand new Hall of Famer for a dime.
And I don't see that changing anytime soon.
I've had good luck with finding neat cards of "The Hawk" during my various dime box adventures.
This isn't even the first time he's closed out one of my card show posts.
You, Mr. Dawson, are a true Dime Box MVP.
While I had a ton of fun in Vegas, these next couple days should be fairly interesting in their own right as well.
Since I didn't get a chance to do it after the show, I'll be spending the next few days sorting, organizing, scanning, and blogging about my stacks of finds.
That, in many ways, is almost as good as the show itself.
Especially when it comes to these dime box treasures.