Tuesday, August 6, 2013
National treasures, Pt. 2: Hitting the jackpot
As it turns out, the National wasn't the last of the craziness I'd experience on Saturday.
In what I'm sure was a common destination for a few fellow National attendees, a friend and I decided to hit the casino that recently opened up a few blocks away from the convention hall. (You have to take advantage of being 21 when you can, right?)
I simply wanted to check the place out. My friend, meanwhile, decided to put a dollar into one of the slots. A few spins and about five minutes later, he walked out of the place with a hundred and fifty bucks.
I couldn't believe it. I was both excited for him and floored at the same time. For the record, if that had been me, I would've taken my winnings and treated myself to a bonus day at the National.
But, much like my friend did that night at the slots, I myself hit the jackpot earlier that day. Only this time, it was with the dime boxes at the National. You'll see what I thought was my best dime find of the show in tonight's post.
Before that, though, I hope you'll join me into the second of the five-post series I'll be writing about my experience throughout the week on the blog. (For whatever reason, readership has been a bit lacking around here the last couple weeks.)
We start with one of the more awe-inspiring cards I pulled on Saturday with Mr. Thomas there. I've always maintained that Pinnacle was the most underrated brand in the history of cardboard.
They certainly created a fitting juxtaposition for the man they called "The Big Hurt" on that one.
Despite the many high-end rookies that I'm sure were on display at the National, I managed to dig up quite a few cool first-year finds from the dime bins.
The '04 Bowman Chrome Adam Greenberg is just the third card of his in my binders, and the first I've had the pleasure of nabbing from a dime box. His historic Topps issue from this year is and always will be my favorite card of the 2013 season.
Although I'd long wanted one, I never thought I'd find an Orel Hershiser rookie for just a dime.
Those pesky dime boxes proved me wrong yet again.
Staying true to my roots, I scored a mess of new dime box paisans for my collection on Saturday.
Before this past weekend, I'd had a grand total of one card of the Italian born-and-raised Alex Liddi in my binders. I nabbed a whopping six new ones throughout the course of the National, including the Finest rookie you see above.
Frank Catalanotto's WBC stint with "Team Italia" was documented on one of my all-time favorite pieces of cardboard in 2008.
I'm excited to add yet another card of his to my Italy-themed collection.
Take a gander at another couple oddities that I couldn't resist showing around here.
I've long been in the market for any and all Darryl Kile cardboard, but that's the first minor league card of his I've found. In case you were wondering, the Tucson Toros are the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros.
The "Eck" comes from the 1996 Leaf Steel checklist. They're easily the heaviest cards I've ever held.
Anyone who owns one of those things can probably back me up on that claim.
One of the dime bins I dug through on Saturday included something I'd never, ever seen before.
There was actually a minimum to how many dime cards you could buy from this particular vendor. The sign next to the boxes clearly stated that you had to purchase at least 50 cards if you were going to dig through 'em.
Of course, that's not much of a problem for me. I nabbed a grand total of 300 cards from his table, including the two awesome "Bo" and Bobby Murcer reprints you see above.
I'm sure it was a deterrent for other potential customers, though.
Needless to say, the whole "minimum" rule was one of the stranger things I saw on Saturday.
I hope you like a little shiny with your cardboard.
I know I do.
A few National dime boxes quenched one of my greatest thirsts in the world of cardboard.
I'm all for finding cards of guys like Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, and Al Kaline, but I absolutely love digging up pre-WWII memoirs.
In fact, the very card you see above is from a TCMA set called "The War Years", one that documents the often-forgotten ballplayers who stayed home during the second World War.
I found a small stack of these in the 50-card minimum dime box I just talked about. I'll admit, I'd never even heard of most of the guys featured.
This one, however, quickly became one of the better buys of the day. Again, I can't say I'd heard of any of the 1941 Boston Bees hurlers shown above. (Although the guy on the far left, George Barnicle, has one of the coolest names ever.)
Still, you might recognize the somewhat older man with the bat on the far right of this photo. That's the "The Old Perfesser" himself, Casey Stengel. He managed the '41 Boston Bees club.
Speaking of which...
There's Stengel again, this time in a wonderful Conlon shot from his playing days.
I can't say I'm necessarily proud to collect Hal Chase. Still, no matter how you slice it, he is certainly an interesting figure from the annals of baseball history.
He was a great player in his time, but was often linked to shady gamblers and bookies who hung around ballparks in the 1910's. In fact, Chase was a sort of a "Ninth Man Out", as he was banned from the game for betting on the infamous "Black Sox" World Series in 1919.
And there's your useless piece of baseball trivia for the day.
I can never get enough of you.
One of the better dime bins I scavenged at the National contained a hearty stack of burgundy Conlon parallels and issues from the set's final release in 1995. Both are tough finds these days.
If such a thing is possible, Kid Nichols is one of the more forgotten 300-game winners in history. He won a staggering 361 games in just 15 big-league seasons.
On the other hand, even over a century later, Fred Merkle is still well-remembered for his infamous blunder that supposedly cost his Giants the NL pennant in 1908. He never lived down his boner (he, he), despite enjoying a nice big-league career after the fact.
Both of these are just a couple more reasons to love the Conlon brand.
We now have a new winner for the most frightening card I've found in my dime box career.
At first, I thought this was intended to be a two-part card. But, as the back suggests, the beheading was intentional, as the shot was designed to show off Ty Cobb's famous "hands apart" grip.
Why they couldn't have done that with a shot of "The Georgia Peach" with his head intact is beyond me.
I'm always happy to add a few '80s oddities to my collection.
While it may be tough to tell from the scan, the Knight is actually a glossy Topps Tiffany parallel. One of the dime boxes I found held quite a few of those, many of which I'll be slipping into trade packages in the coming months.
The O-Pee-Chee Perez was one of the better gets from the initial dime box of the day.
I believe it's my very first Canadian variation from the '83 checklist.
Rickey breaks records.
Rickey does Pepsi endorsements.
Which reminds me...
One of my hopes for the National was to add a slew of new oddballs to my collection.
I'm happy to say that I achieved that goal on Saturday.
And then some. I went a bit oddball-crazy with the dime boxes, buying as many as I could possibly get my hands on.
Shockingly, I didn't find any Hostess or Kellogg's cards throughout the course of the day.
Still, between the likes of Jiffy Pop...
...Kraft, and Coca-Cola, I found cards from enough other products to fill a supermarket shelf.
In fact, the Murphy is my first issue from the Kraft brand.
Let's take a look at a couple Cubbie oddballs, courtesy of Post Cereal and Burger King.
I'd eat Whoppers to my heart's content (or disappointment) if they came with baseball cards.
Not all oddballs have to be food-related, though.
These are a couple more generic ones that I'd never seen prior to Saturday.
The Matty Alou, brilliantly centered around the '69 Topps design, was produced by a company called Sports Design Products.
The Ryan, on the other hand, was a giveaway with American Sports Monthly, which I'm guessing was some sort of magazine back in the day.
I'd never heard of either of those companies before these oddballs came along.
In a way, I guess that's just part of their beauty.
This, though, was my personal favorite oddball get of the day.
During the course of my dig through the 50-card minimum dime box I mentioned earlier, I came across a few of these puppies.
Like most oddballs, I had no clue what they were at first glance. But, after flipping them over, I found that these were issued at what they call "The Shriner's Show" up in Boston. Each of the day's autograph guests were featured on a specially made baseball card.
While I did find a couple of non-Boston players (such as one of Duke Snider), many of these throwback-themed cards featured guys who played on the Red Sox at some point. Bobby Doerr, Jim Rice, and Andre Dawson were some of the more notable names.
My favorite, however, was the Juan Marichal you see above. He was only with the Red Sox for one season towards the end of his career, yet he's featured with the franchise on the front of this oddity.
Had one simply amazing card not presented itself earlier in the day, the Marichal might've been my favorite dime find of the National.
Nevertheless, I think that honor has to go to...
...the knuckleballer himself, R.A. Dickey.
I, like many other baseball devotees, have become an avid Dickey fan over the last few years. His storybook journeyman-to-Cy Young winner tale is one of the best I've heard, and one that earned him a rightful place in my binders last year.
Before he shocked the world during his stint with the Mets, Dickey was a former first-round flameout from the Texas organization. He was on the verge of becoming a coach after mediocre seasons in Seattle and Minnesota.
Up until a few years ago, I'm sure most card dealers saw him as just another failed prospect. As a result, I'm sure thousands and thousands of copies of Dickey's 1997 Bowman rookies were tossed into dime boxes across the nation.
Ever since his meteoric rise with the Mets, I couldn't help but wonder when I'd be lucky enough to find a copy of my own.
I ended up with 229 cards after finishing up one of my many dime box searches on Saturday. Since I like to end my digs with an even number, I decided to peek into one of the other dime boxes. (I was hoping to come back to the table a little later on in the show.)
As fate would have it, the very first card I pulled was the one I'd wanted for so long. A 1997 Bowman R.A. Dickey rookie. (There were actually about five or six copies in there, but I just wanted the one.)
I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe how lucky I was. If I would've finished with 230 cards, I wouldn't have even peeked into that box. And I wouldn't have found my R.A. Dickey rookie card.
A couple hours later, with a few bucks left in my pocket, my dad and I decided to return to that same table. Literally minutes after I sat down, some suit-and-tied guy came up and bought all the dime bins the vendor had. (There were at least a dozen 3200-count boxes on display.)
Had I not fallen one card short of an even number during my first go-around, I would've never found the Dickey. And, since someone bought out the vendor's entire stock when I came back hours later, it would've been gone and lost forever.
Not only do I now own an awesome rookie card of one of my favorite players, but I also have quite the story to go with it.
With all that, I guess you could say I hit the jackpot at this year's National.