Here's a thought.
Let's say it's Sunday and you have what will most likely be a long week of school and work ahead. Where would you spend that last day of freedom?
That's an easy answer for me.
The local flea market, of course.
In fact, that's exactly where I was last Sunday, just before I started at both a new school and a new job this week. I had a few extra bucks in my wallet and wanted to send summer vacation out with a bang.
It seems like I say this after every flea market haul, but I may have scored my best finds during last week's digs. I've already recapped that "mystery box" I nabbed over the course of this week.
But, for the next few posts around here, I thought I'd recap my buys from my "regular guy" who always seems to have an awesome display of cardboard out every week.
The best part is that he seems to change the dime boxes every week. I rarely, if ever, see the same dime card twice. It's almost always a new selection, which means I never know what exactly I'm going to find.
Take this past trip, for instance. I actually found a new Hoyt for my collection. I have the autographed and serial-numbered "retrofractor" variations of his Topps Super Teams issue, but I'd somehow never managed to track down the base card.
That's a dime box success if I've ever seen one.
All in all, I set another new record at the regular guy's table.
I snagged over 400 cards total from the four gigantic dime bins he had on display last week. (Along with a few quarter, fifty-centers, etc. that we'll get to later.)
The bargain I got may have also set a new mark. I guess I've locked in the "regular customer" discount plan, which means I was only charged ten bucks for what should've been around $40 worth of cardboard.
If I wasn't the one getting the discount, I wouldn't believe it myself.
Among my discounted gems was the Wal-Mart blue parallel of Mr. Hudson here, the only card I know of that features a pitcher in the process of smashing a home run.
It's one of the best of the decade so far, if you ask me.
Oops. These are actually Topps Lineage knockoffs.
Ah, they're still cool. Minis are always welcome around here.
The more, the merrier.
Interestingly, I nabbed both the base and Traded versions of the great Keith Hernandez.
Or, as I like to say, these dime bins got me both ends of the '83 Topps Keith Hernandez doubleheader.
Also included were a couple great additions to my "Short Term Stops" collection.
Jim Abbott's first tenure with the Sox didn't last very long, consisting of just 17 starts in 1995 before being dealt back to the Angels midway through the season. (He'd have a second tenure on the South Side in 1998.)
Bert Campaneris ended his career in a utility role with the '83 Yankees, playing in 60 games for the Bronx Bombers that year.
"Campy" in pinstripes never looked quite right to me.
I scored a decent stack of cards from Pacific's "Tom Terrific" set, but this one was the far and away favorite.
Because it's the only one I've ever seen that documents Seaver's largely forgotten third stint with the Mets.
Of course, "Tom Terrific" enjoyed a number of memorable years in Queens during the '60s and '70s. After a few years in Cincinnati, he went back to the Mets in '83. And, after his '86 season with both the White Sox and Red Sox, Seaver attempted to make a return to the club for a third time in 1987.
Sadly, the future Hall of Famer just couldn't cut it anymore, deciding to hang 'em up before ever playing in an official game for the '87 Mets.
So, yes, I guess this one is a semi-"zero-year" card.
As I've mentioned in the past, I'm starting to buy more and more notable dime box rookies these days.
Although I wouldn't say I collect either Deion Sanders or Johan Santana, I had to have these two. Both were among the most hyped rookies of their day.
I can't say I was around to see the "Neon Deion" baseball craze, but I assume his '89 Topps Traded issue was one of the more sought-after cards at the time.
On the other hand, I do remember the hype around Johan Santana's 2000 Fleer Tradition Update rookie. He was quite possibly the best pitcher in baseball for a few years in the mid 2000's, which made that particular first-year card a highly coveted piece.
Although he's far from a star these days, I never thought I'd find a Johan Santana rookie priced at a mere dime.
As has become commonplace, the dime boxes once again proved me wrong.
With a single in Montreal, Tony Gywnn collected his 3,000th hit on August 6th, 1999.
With a homer in Tampa, Wade Boggs collected his 3,000th hit on August 7th, 1999.
Two of the game's greatest batsmen reached the 3,000 hit plateau within one day of each other.
That really is amazing when you stop and think about it.
Let's go a bit further back in time with my Hall of Fame flea market pickups.
Although both Winfield and Eckersley would go on to play well into the '90s, I'm assuming both of these shots were taken sometime in the late '70s or early '80s.
As far as all-legend sets go, the American Pie brand will always be one of my favorites.
Which is way more than I can say about the song "American Pie".
Hey, we can even go back a bit further than that.
While Burleigh Grimes and Richie Ashburn are both Hall of Famers, I've heard some pundits question their induction into Cooperstown. Personally, I think both of these guys earned their spot in the Hall.
If a "baseball name" Hall of Fame were ever to open, guys like Grimes and Ashburn would be among the first inductees.
I don't think there's much questioning that.
Can we go even further back, you ask?
My new HOF pickups stretched from the more recent to the dawn of professional baseball. In fact, brothers George and Harry Wright (bottom-left, bottom-center) were members of the 1869 Boston Red Stockings, the first official pro club.
I should probably mention that they went 65-0 that year.
While it's riddled with quality control errors, I've always liked the oddball-ish "Baseball Immortals" set. (It gives off a strong '75 Topps vibe, doesn't it?)
Unfortunately, past greats like Ed Delahanty, "King" Kelly, and "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity have almost nothing to chase outside of this checklist. I'm pretty sure this is the first dime card of "Old Hoss" Radbourne that I've acquired.
Luckily for me, I found at least a few dozen "Immortals" in these dime boxes alone.
Staying on the turn-of-the-century bandwagon, we'll close out today's post with a card of the "Big Train" himself, Walter Johnson.
For part of their short-print checklist in 2010, National Chicle photoshopped past stars into modern uniforms. I'm still torn on how I feel about these.
It's a good concept, but they sure look strange in my binders. I mean, I'll have to mix a Nationals jersey in with my Senators cards. (Although, technically, the original Senators were officially known as the Nationals.)
Still, it's a nice piece of cardboard. And one that I was absolutely shocked to find in a dime box.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of it, however, was the outstanding little nugget of trivia it featured on the back. I have a ton of useless baseball facts rolling around in my head, but this one may well take the cake.
Walter Johnson is the only player to win 20 games and hit .400 in the same season. "The Big Train" went 20-7 and hit .433 for the 1925 Senators.
Amaze your friends with that one.
Such a gem of baseball trivia was just another great chapter in my saga of flea market finds.
It really was a great way to spend my last day of summer vacation.