Thursday, June 13, 2013

Flea market in a box, Pt. 2: Cereal boxes to chalkboards

I've learned a lot from the blogosphere.

This place has taught me what a baseball card community should be like. It's shown me how meaningless the "book value" charade really is. Plus, despite what the media would have you believe, the blogs are a great reminder that this hobby is still going strong.

And, at the very least, many of my fellow bloggers have introduced me to flat-out awesome pieces of cardboard for me to chase.

Sometimes, after seeing such a card, I'll run right out to a site like Sportlots or COMC and purchase it right then and there. At others, however, I sit back and say...

"No rush. I bet I'll find it in a dime box sooner or later."

That was exactly my thought process going into the second part of last weekend's flea market dig. And, lo and behold, quite a few of those types of cards fell out my main vendor's dime box.

Mr. Night Owl has shown the above Mike Piazza "V.J. Lovero Showcase" insert (with an Eric Karros cameo) many, many times on his blog over the years. Given my love for anything and everything odd, I very nearly rushed out and bought it upon first sight.

But, for whatever reason, I didn't. Maybe I just knew it'd eventually fall out of a dime box. As it turns out, my suspicions were right.

Perhaps patience really does pay off.

After all, I'm now the proud owner of my new favorite Mike Piazza card.

Here's another Dodger masterpiece that I first saw on the Owl's blog.

Again courtesy of Mr. Lovero, I might add.

This might be the best pitching action shot in the history of cardboard.

These, on the other hand, will forever haunt my dreams.

But, at a dime a piece, I couldn't pass them up. As they say, some things are so bad...that they actually end up being kind of good.

Besides, it's not every day that you get to see that much Canseco douchebaggery on a baseball card.

I learned something from this dime box dig.

Between cereal boxes and chalkboards, the "V.J. Lovero Showcase" series may be among the greatest insert sets ever released.

Mr. Gwynn here is an absolute perfect fit for me, in both cardboard and non-cardboard ways. Of course, it's another odd shot that not many other cards can match.

But, more than that, my hopeful career path in education makes this a particularly special piece.

Before last week, I never thought I'd voluntarily welcome a Curt Schilling card into my collection.

Still, there was just something about this "bloody sock" card that I just couldn't resist. I love the little spot shadow box on the part of Upper Deck.

Cards like these are why UD Masterpieces managed to live up to its moniker.

These two were part of a special promotion back in the day.

Kids were urged to submit drawings of their favorite players to Upper Deck, at which point the company would choose a few to be featured in a special upcoming insert series.

These were drawn by 14 and 11 year-old youngsters, respectively.

And they're still better than Gypsy Queen.

I've never officially set out to collect Nolan Ryan.

But, over the past few months, I've picked up fairly hefty stacks of "Ryan Express" cardboard during my dime box travels.

What can I say?

The guy has some awesome cards.

I'd long wanted to add a 2000 Pacific Revolution specimen to my collection.

In terms of sheer design, this may be the most awesome card I've ever scanned. And, on top of that, Carlos Febles is one of my most obscure binder "inductees". (You can thank my MLB Showdown playing days for that.)

Only after I flipped it over did I find out that this was some sort of parallel from the set, numbered to just 99 copies.

Icing on the cake, my friends.

Paul Konerko as a Cincinnati Red will never look right to me.


Horrid scanning qualities aside, I had to show off these Bowman Chrome WBC pieces.

On the left, we have recent Cub import Kyuji Fujikawa. Unfortunately, he fell victim to arm trouble a few weeks ago, eventually having to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Still, I don't believe Fujikawa has had an official big-league card issued as of this writing. Picking up a "pre-rookie" WBC card of his was a big score for me.

That's former "Team Italia" third baseman Alex Liddi on the right. Unlike most of his fellow WBC teammates, Liddi really is from Italy. (He was born in San Reno.)

Given my family's deep Italian roots, I absolutely must have any cards that feature those Team Italy jerseys. In fact, I decided to make Mr. Liddi a new "binder guy" after picking up that one.

So, if you happen to have any spare cards of his lying around, please keep me in mind.

These are certainly a couple star-studded dime box gems.

You'd be hard-pressed to find another pre-overproduction era Nolan Ryan card for a dime. And even his '88 Topps and '90 Donruss issues are still passable quarter bin material in most cases.

Mike Schmidt, on the other hand, is quickly cementing himself as a "Dime Box MVP". I only just decided to start collecting him a couple months ago, and I'm already up to a whopping 94 different issues of his in my binders.

That '82 "In Action" piece was the best of 18 different Schmidt cards I found last Sunday.

A couple more surprising dime finds here.

These smell fresh from their thirty year-old pack wrappers. You know that old, somewhat musty scent that some older cardboard can hold.

And, yes, I've been smelling my cards again.

You caught me.

After my hour of discount digs was through, I finally went to go pay for my finds.

I'd had my eye on one of the 56-card boxes 1986 Donruss Highlights sets my vendor had on display, but wasn't quite sure if I wanted to pull the trigger. I was on a budget that afternoon.

But, after a bit of consideration, I grabbed one. It wasn't going to break the bank either way.

After the vendor totaled up all my various purchases, he happily let me have the Highlights set on the house. It's a little token of gratitude that I greatly appreciated, to say the least.

There were quite a few gems in that set (including first-year cards of both Will Clark and Bo Jackson), but my far and away favorite was the Mr. October/Mick combo you see above.

Not only does it feature two of the greatest sluggers to ever play the game, but it'll also make for a tremendous addition to my new "Award Show" collection.

In many ways, I guess I've learned a few things from my flea market travels as well.

Most importantly, perhaps, is the value of being a regular customer.

You never know when it might pay off.


P-town Tom said...

That Tony Gwynn is pretty neat. I'm sure how he can teach or lecture on hitting without a bat in his hand though!

The Cubs had a pitcher in their farm system by the name of Alex Maestri that passed through Peoria sometime back. His claim to fame was that he was the first player in the Cubs organization to be from Italy. I think he's in Japan playing ball now.

Mark said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds player collections starting from the strangest places. Much like your Febles fandom, I'll forever have fond memories of Terry Shumpert from playing All-Star Baseball 97 for N64. For a .250 career hitter, he always seemed to hit .350+ in any season. Yet Ken Giffey would barely crack the Mendoza line...

Stealing Home said...

That birds-eye-view Nomo card is the bomb!
If I ever make a top ten want list, that one's on it.

Bo said...

If you're curious about Mantle's jacket in the last card, the logo is for SportsChannel, which broadcast Yankee games in the mid-80s. Mantle was an announcer for the Yankees for a couple of years.

petethan said...

You know, I might just have to move to where you are. You're just plain killing me! I can't believe I haven't come up with that awesome Nomo yet. And I've never seen that hilarious Piazza card.

Going to my girl's softball tournament up near Portland in a couple of weeks, though, and I'll be searching for a good dime box. Don't plan to come home until I find something good!