To most people, the concept of baseball cards probably seems fairly simple.
Most I've talked to see them as, well, pieces of cardboard with baseball players featured on the fronts. And, in their most basic form, those people are right.
However, as any collector will tell you, there's a whole lot more to this hobby than simply that.
In the end, that's what separates the collectors from the non-collectors.
I've had quite a few school-related and non-school-related issues present themselves over the past few weeks. And, while none of it was that serious, I'd been looking for something to take my mind off the stress nevertheless.
That's where my precious hobby came into the picture. And, as far as that goes, I found a much-needed diversion in my local flea market.
More specifically, I found a great deal solace in the discount vintage bin.
The very first box I dug through this time around was my regular vendor's vintage bin.
Much like his dime box picks, the array of vintage cardboard he puts on display changes from week to week.
And, again much like this vendor's dime box material, the sheer selection is second-to-none.
The "Reggie" card at the top of the post set me back a mere quarter. It'll look fantastic next to my OPC version in my binder, which fell into my lap at a recent show.
For another quarter, I was able to take home the '69 Topps Amos Otis rookie you see above. To my knowledge, it's the only card that features him as a New York Met.
He enjoyed brief stays with the franchise in both 1967 and '69 before being dealt to the Royals, where he'd spend the majority of his 17-year career.
Not bad for some loose change.
The '73 Topps set is pretty trippy in its own right.
Littered with odd, quirky, and downright epic photography, I've always seen it as one of Topps' best efforts.
Although I can't say I'd heard of Chris Speier before I discovered this one for a quarter, I knew it had to be mine at first sight.
The concept of color misalignment is one of the more plentiful errors from the early days of Topps. That mishap is what gives this already-awesome action shot an especially trippy feel.
I wouldn't stare at it for too long, though.
You'll start getting dizzy after a while.
Now that I think of it, I can't say I've heard a single negative review of '77 Topps during my years in this hobby.
While I wouldn't quite put it on the level of '73 or '75, Topps' 1977 offering has always been a personal favorite.
Surprisingly, though, I'd never added either of these to my collection in the past. I actually saw the Fingers during my prior flea market excursion, only to come home later that day and find no signs of it in my binders.
Oh, the horror!
Luckily, I found the Fingers right where I'd left it. This time, though, it came home with me.
For just another couple quarters, I was able to take home this magnificent pair of vintage goodness.
It's always been a dream of mine to build complete 1969 and '70 Topps Pilots team sets.
For a long time, though, that's exactly how I'd treated it. As a dream.
Recently, I've decided that it's time to get serious about realizing my lofty goal. I snagged five different Pilot quarter vintage pieces from this bargain bin.
And they won't be the last.
I'm starting to fall hopelessly in love with old checklist cards.
There's a certain mystique to them. Especially, as exemplified by the card on the left, ones that have every single card checked off the list.
Better yet, they can be had at extremely reasonable prices. I snagged these Drysdale and "Yaz" checklists for just fifty cents each.
And, while they're not what you'd call "conventional" pieces of cardboard, these will indeed go under my Drysdale and Yastrzemski sections in my binders.
Conventional or not.
In keeping with the whole checklist theme, this flea market bargain bin crossed off a longtime need of mine.
After many, many searches, I have finally found an authentic '74 Topps "Washington -- Nat'l Lea." piece for my binders.
The backstory behind these is fairly well-known around collecting circles. Before the '74 set was released, there was some serious talk about moving the Padres franchise to Washington.
So, in preparation for the move, Topps printed many of the Padres cards that year with the "Washington" heading under the team name. Obviously, the franchise wound up staying put in San Diego.
As a result, Topps reverted back to the appropriate "San Diego" heading for the rest of their Padres cards that year.
Because of the fascinating tale behind them, I'd long been in the market for one of those "Washington" pieces. I honestly couldn't care less about who it featured. Any would've been fine with me.
As it happens, Mr. Johnny Grubb will forever be remembered as fulfilling one of my longtime goals.
Due to the fact that one of its corners was lopped off at some point, I scored this masterpiece for a mere quarter.
A steal if I've ever seen one.
There are quite a few gaps in my "sunset" collection.
Entering my most recent trip to the flea market, however, I'm not sure any were as profound as this one. Although it's not a particularly rare card, I'd never managed to find Lou Brock's 1979 Topps finale for my binders.
In keeping with the vintage theme of the day, another quarter was all it took to knock out one of my most pressing "sunset" needs.
I don't think I'd ever held a copy of Pete Rose's 1975 Topps card in my hands prior to a couple weeks ago.
Much less been exposed to one with a jaw-dropping fifty-cent price tag.
Because of their prices and sheer beauty, "Charlie Hustle" shares co-"Find of the Day" honors with...
..."Mr. October" himself, Reggie Jackson.
I would've been happy with just the '78 Topps "Highlights" card at the top of the post. Even so, his awesome '75 issue completely blows that one out of the water.
I'd certainly seen this card many times in the past. A few reprints of it currently reside in my A's binder. All the while, I'd been wondering when I'd finally get to have the real thing.
At a whole buck, it proved to be my most expensive purchase of the day.
Worth every penny, though, if you ask me.
As opposed to a couple weeks ago, things have certainly picked up around here lately. I'm officially school-free and on summer vacation as we speak. Everything else has begun to fall into place as well.
During those semi-stressful times, though, digging through boxes of glorious cardboard on a wonderful Sunday afternoon certainly helped tone things down a bit.
In that sense, baseball cards can indeed be therapeutic.
Especially when it comes to discount vintage.