Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Flea market in a box, Pt. 1: A flurry of dimes
I think I've set a new personal record.
At a whopping 403 different cards, I bought more cards at the flea market this week than ever before. In fact, my regular vendor didn't even have a bag big enough for my haul. He opted to just give me the huge cardboard box you see above.
So, due to the sheer volume of my finds this time around, I'll be composing four different flea market posts in the coming days, as opposed to the usual three-post setup.
All in all, this recent flea market binge was a win-win. I've been trying to save some cash until I can find a job around here, so I didn't want to break the bank with this trip.
Luckily, I didn't have to. I spent a mere 23 bucks on the 403 cards I purchased this past Sunday. That comes out to a little less than six cents a piece. (Yes, I did the math.)
My regular vendor is largely to thank for that. I spent a good hour at his table, perusing his usual cardboard treasures. In the end, I scored about 280 dime cards, 14 fifty-centers, four quarter cards, and about a buck's worth of other miscellaneous cardboard.
If my math is right, that should've amounted to about $37 total. Yet, amazingly, he only charged me fifteen bucks for the lot. Well less than half of what it should've been.
That, my friends, is why I keep coming back to this place on a regular basis.
To start things off, let's talk about those 280 dime cards I just mentioned.
As you might guess, I'll be splitting my latest dime box experience into two separate posts.
The cards I scored from this vendor's two massive dime bins was just too much to cram into a single write-up.
For nearly the entire time I was browsing through the table, a father and his two sons were excitedly digging through the same vendor's discount cardboard.
The dad was telling his kids his memories of guys like Ozzie Smith and Tony Gwynn whenever he'd come across their cards in the bin. Those types of experiences always manage to put a smile on my face.
Luckily, though, they left behind a great deal of awesome dime cards for me to discover.
We'll kick things off with a gold parallel version of a card you've probably seen before. One that, in fact, is currently in competition for an "Elite Eight" spot in this blog's "Gems of Junk Wax" tournament.
The base-parallel combo of such a stunning piece of cardboard will look awesome amongst all my Ripken cards.
Speaking of which...
There's another terrific add to my fairly modest "Iron Man" collection.
Any card that features those old cell phones is okay in my book. On top of that, how often do you see King Kelly short-prints pop up in this hobby?
Yet, as I've always said, even SPs are no strangers to the dime box depths.
I've established a new little rule when it comes to dime bins.
"If you have the chance to acquire a rookie card of a fairly well-known ballplayer, take it."
So, even though I don't necessarily collect the likes of Mike Scioscia or Dwight Gooden, I couldn't pass up rookies of them for just a dime each.
I'm only human.
It's the same with Tim Hudson.
He's not a prime focus of mine, yet I still had to pull the trigger on his '99 Fleer Tradition Update rookie for a mere dime.
Jon Lester, on the other hand, is a guy I vehemently collect. Finding dime box rookies of those guys, well...
Let's just say it's a pretty sweet feeling.
While they're not officially considered rookie cards, I've always considered minor league and Team USA issues to be nearly as cool as "true" rookies.
Ryan Zimmerman wasn't yet a professional when that Upper Deck USA card was released in 2005.
"Official" rookie card or not, that has to stand for something.
These are some rather high-end products for the dime box mix.
I'd never dream of busting packs of Bowman Originals or Topps Museum Collection. These don't usually end up in dime bins, which means that there aren't many in my collection. And I'm totally okay with that.
But, if I happen to find a few in dime boxes, I'm not one to pass up such an opportunity.
My regular vendor even drops a bit of "latest and greatest" cardboard into his dime boxes every now and then.
I happily managed to come home with a nice little stack of 2013 Panini Triple Play after all was said and done, the first dime cards of the product I'd ever found.
Surprisingly, nothing from Panini's 2012 or '13 releases had made their way into any of the dime boxes I'd perused up to that point.
Since both Reddick and Lawrie are a couple of my newer "binder inductees", these were some of my favorite scores of the day.
I especially like the little cartoon tattoos on Mr. Lawrie's arms there.
This dime box beat me to the Archives punch.
I haven't even busted a pack of the stuff, yet they're already finding their way into dime boxes around these parks.
I'll probably go more in-depth with Archives when I get around to buying a few retail packs.
For now, though, let's just say I picked up a couple of neat player collection scores with these two.
We've arrived at the mini-collection portion of this post.
As usual, I excavated quite a few hits to my wacky themed collections during this dime box dig.
Let's start with one of the more beautiful "double dip" cards you'll ever find with this Vizquel masterpiece.
A jaw-dropping shot of the glove master in action.
Bat barrels and broken bats.
Neither were strangers to this dime box.
Neither were "pitchers on the basepaths" or "multiple-exposure" shots.
I'd long wanted to add that '96 Upper Deck Mattingly to my collection. Trouble is, mid-90s UD aren't exactly common when it comes to dime bins.
It's almost like my vendor customizes those dime boxes according to what I like.
Plus, there aren't many "pitchers on the basepaths" shots to begin with in this hobby. The Webb is one of the extreme few I've found that feature a hurler leading off third base.
It's a fairly uncommon feat in the world of baseball.
Often times, though, I'll purchase a card that simply captures my fancy.
Although they might not fit snugly into any of my main player or mini-collections, some pieces are simply too cool not to buy.
Cards that feature awesome scoreboards or snow flurries are terrific examples.
Craig Biggio had some terrific cards issued during his career.
That awesome Ultra card just adds to the already tremendous list.
It's a good thing I flipped that Randy Johnson card over when I first found it. Otherwise, I would've missed one of the strangest shots ever featured on a piece of cardboard.
Are my eyes deceiving me, or is the "Big Unit" pole dancing there?
This is one of the more interesting cards I've ever plucked from a dime box.
Kirby Puckett, of course, made his living as an outfielder during his heyday. It's noted right there underneath his name.
Yet, in contrast, the shot featured on his 1996 Upper Deck issue features him playing the infield. It's hard to say for certain which position, although I'd be inclined to go with shortstop.
And, since identifying ballparks isn't one of my stronger points, I couldn't tell you whether that's a big-league or spring training stadium in the backdrop. So, yes, what we have here could well be a spring training shot.
But, if it is a regular season photo, it should be noted that Puckett played all of two innings in the infield during the '95 season.
One full inning at second, two-thirds of an inning at third, and one-third of an inning at shortstop were his totals for the year. (He even racked up an assist during his brief stint at second.)
Had I not found this card, I would've never known that Puckett even had infield experience.
In a way, that's part of the beauty of dime boxes. They've helped educate me about the game I love so much.
And, if you're jealous of these flea market scores, I'm happy (or sorry) to say that we've barely even scratched the surface of my great afternoon this past weekend.
It was one for the record books.