My Saturday afternoon at the National was nothing short of legendary.
Although I'm a veteran when it comes to card shows, I still can't help but get a bit mesmerized by the sheer awesomeness of the place whenever I walk into a convention hall.
That feeling was stronger than ever when I first stepped foot into the hallowed doorways of the National.
My dad and I spent a good five or six hours roaming the aisles. The longer I was there, it seemed, the better it seemed to get.
As I mentioned yesterday, I met a couple fellow bloggers in the flesh for the first time. Plus, luckily for me, I didn't run into a single "bro" at any point in the day. And, yes, I managed to get through the entire show whilst sticking to my budget. And, man, did I manage to get quite the bang for my buck.
On that note, though, I've always preached quality over quantity. While I do like coming home with a bulging bag of cardboard, it's not all about how many I can find. It's not like I set a personal quota or anything.
I was expecting to dig up about seven to eight hundred cards at the National. A ton for most collectors, but only slightly above average for me.
So you can imagine how surprised I was to find that I purchased a staggering 1,014 different cards in my six hours on Saturday. It's the first time I've ever cracked the thousand-card mark.
Although I tried sticking to my usual four-post structure for card shows, my National write-ups will be a five-post series. It was simply too much to squeeze into four. We'll be taking a look at my dime box finds in the first two chapters.
I guess it's fitting that one of the better dime buys of the day was the awesome Ted Kluszewski insert you see above.
After all, the National was a day I'd marked on my calendar as early as September of last year.
This is a card I'd seen a few times before, but one that I'd never been able to track down.
Until the National, that is. It may well be the best "cards with kids" mini-collection hit I'll ever find.
On that note, I found the demographics on this year's National rather fascinating. If you asked most people, I bet they'd guess most collectors at the show would be middle-aged men.
And, for the most part, that's true. I'm probably at least ten or fifteen years behind the average National attendee.
Still, despite what many might believe, the younger demographic is still alive and well in this hobby. I saw quite a few kids much younger than me at the National on Saturday.
Now, almost every single one I heard brought up the word "Beckett" at some point or another in their conversations. Brainwashed already.
But, Beckett or not, it's good that the younger crowd still has a presence in the hobby.
Now that we have the day's recap and demographics out of the way, let's delve deeper into what the dime boxes had in store for me at the National.
Almost subconsciously, I've been buying more and more cards of "Donnie Baseball" at recent shows. As a semi-argument card, I couldn't pass this one up.
My legs hurt just looking at that stretch.
For a long time, I didn't collect Gary Carter or Carly Yastrzemski with much conviction.
That's a darn shame. Nowadays, they're both among the top tier of my many player collections. And, to sweeten the pot, I seem to find a few cards of theirs in nearly every dime box I dig through.
Both have established themselves as "Dime Box MVPs".
For the most part, regular ol' dime boxes and National dime boxes are like peas in a pod.
Despite the high-end aura that the National seems to have, there's not a ton of difference when it comes to the dime bins.
Perhaps the only discrepancy between the two is the fact that you might just run into a few dime cards from higher-end sets at the National.
Given, UD Masterpieces isn't what most would consider "high-end". Still, from my experiences at past shows, they're rarely relegated to the dime boxes.
I found a few at the National, though. Surprisingly, I'd never seen this one of "The Iron Man" before Saturday.
Of course, it features the same shot that Topps used on Ripken's beautiful '92 Topps issue.
Numbered cards aren't usually common suspects in dime boxes.
At the National, though, they were fair game. In fact, the first dime bin I dug through on Saturday (located in the very first aisle) had dozens and dozens of numbered issues ripe for the picking.
You can see a couple of my favorite gets from this particular vendor above. It doesn't get much better than a numbered Vlad for a dime. And I'm always happy to add cards of Randy Johnson as an Astro to my "Short Term Stops" collection.
And, unlike most others, nearly all of the dime cards at that table were carefully placed in penny sleeves and toploaders. The vast majority of the 100 singles I bought from that table were secured as such.
Landing a serially-numbered piece isn't as big a deal for me as it once was, but I'm still more than happy to give them a good home.
That same dime bin happened to offer up singles from a few rather high-end products.
If the title of this blog is any indication, I don't own many cards from Topps Marquee or Ultimate Collection. But, should any find their way into the dime box depths, I'm more than willing to pounce.
Back during the peak of Shelton-mania, I'm sure copies of that numbered rookie of his were going for tens, if not hundreds, of dollars.
After fading into relative obscurity, I can get my hands on the very same card for loose change here in 2013.
It's one of the reasons I love collecting guys like Chris Shelton so much.
If you were at the National, you probably know that the big boys were right at the center of the convention hall.
Vendors like Topps and Dave and Adam's Card World probably received an absolute ton of foot traffic throughout the day. You couldn't avoid them if you tried.
As you might guess, most of the dime boxes were found far, far away from those prime locales. One of the more diverse ones of the day materialized all the way in the back of the hall, just feet away from the fire exits.
The 100 cards I landed from this vendor included everything from about the early '80s to now. (Can you tell I try to end my dime box quests with an even number of cards yet?)
I was shocked that I didn't already have a copy of Luis Tiant's "Super Veteran" issue from '83 Topps. Technically, you could consider it a "sunset" card. On top of that, it's only the third card I've seen that features him as an Angel.
For a dime, anything of "The Pride of Havana" is a no-brainer.
These boxes also held stacks upon stacks of 1993 Upper Deck.
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed going through those. Photography-wise, the set might just be the very best in hobby history.
Perhaps the biggest draw of the table, however, was its inclusion of tough-to-find late '90s/early 2000's cardboard.
For the most part, Upper Deck's 2000 release is forgotten amongst collectors. I've always liked it, but the dime boxes were never much help.
Thanks to this vendor, though, I was able to take home a hearty stack of a wildly under-appreciated set.
For good measure, here are a couple more sets you don't see too often these days.
Both Metal Universe and Fleer Tradition left the hobby a long time ago. I wouldn't call either release great, but I enjoy finding singles from time to time.
The Hershiser filled a personal goal I'd been chasing for years.
It's the very first card I've found of him in a Mets uniform.
Well, we've arrived at the mini-collection portion of this post.
As I've said over and over again, they're a ton of fun to hunt down when it comes to dime boxes. The selection at the National certainly didn't disappoint in that department.
Kicking off the festivities is this magnificent "multiple-exposure" shot of Ken Griffey Jr. himself.
I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of all the great cardboard he had during the course of his career.
The "shaded" Mike Piazza and autograph-signing Frank Thomas added onto the mini-collection fun.
You certainly don't see green uniforms pop up every day in the world of cardboard.
I've never officially declared a "sweet 'stache" mini-collection, but Mr. Blackwell there would certainly have to be an inaugural inductee if I ever do so.
My dad actually pulled that one for me, on the hunch that I'd enjoy Blackwell's awesome facial hair. Nice work, pops.
The Christianson, on the other hand, is a nice addition to my "bat barrel" theme.
Both of these were part of a big stack of prime frankenset nominees I pulled throughout the day. That fulfilled goal #3 of my "prep work" for the National.
We'll be revisiting that list as these posts roll on.
Just a couple of awesome "throwback" and "play at the plate" shots here.
One question for you folks.
Does it get much better than a "Joltin' Joe" PATP?
Here's an entire binder page filled with fantastic "double dip" dime cards.
Amazingly, these are just a handful of at least a couple dozen I nabbed on Saturday.
Throughout the years, my favorite mini-collection has been the one featuring "pitchers at the plate".
Whether they're on the basepaths, in the batting cage, or simply posing with a bat, absolutely all are eligible.
As I've found, having mini-collection means that I sometimes have to buy cards of some of my least favorite players.
So, yes, I'm happy to add any new "pitcher at the plate" cards to my collection.
Even ones that feature Roger Clemens.
And I'm ecstatic to find any new "broken bat" cards for my binders.
Even if they happen to feature Sammy Sosa.
Clemens and Sosa were far from the only ones. Not pictured are a couple Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and A-Rod cards I bought for the sole purpose of adding to my mini-collections. (Including one that featured both Bonds and A-Rod.)
It's okay, though, because...
The awesomeness of Ken Griffey Jr. easily offsets the agony of adding a new Sammy Sosa card to my collection.
I'm proud to have landed this beautiful "Award Show" shot of "The Kid" for just a dime.
Even with the variety of dime box cardboard I've shown in this post, though, we still have another couple of posts to go.
One thing became apparent to me early on at the National.
The dime box gods were certainly on my side that afternoon.
I can't thank them enough.