As the title of this little series notes, I'm starting to prepare for the farewell of my local flea market this winter.
I'm definitely planning to attend at least once more during its final weeks. But, due to possible problems with time, money, etc., I can't make any guarantees.
So, just in case I don't get another chance to write one of these flea market posts, I just hope you've enjoyed my ramblings about my finds there this summer.
And, if you happen to stumble a flea market near your house, I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot. If you've taken one thing away from these posts this year, I hope it's that you can find almost anything at a flea market.
That idea was in full force during my most recent flea market trip a couple weeks ago. In terms of sheer shock value, I scored my greatest get of the season. Not to mention one of my best ever.
See, just after I was done buying that awesome Cy Young oddball I mentioned before, another vendor let me know that he had some cards on display a couple tables down.
As is always the case with random dealers at the flea market, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
When I walked up to his table, I had exactly ten bucks left in my wallet.
After all was said and done, I'd spent $20 on cardboard goodies, taking out a bit of a loan from my generous mother. (One that I've since paid back, I should mention.)
I don't usually like owing people money, but I had to in this situation. I think you'll agree with me after this post is over.
And, as it happens, I could've spent a lot more. For the time being, though, I kept my impulses (somewhat) intact and limited it to a cool twenty smackers.
As the vendor noted, one of his boxes was filled with half-price cards. Upon taking a quick look through it, my eyes widened. The bin was absolutely packed with '70s oddballs.
I can probably count the number of discount bin SSPC cards I've found on one hand. There were at least a couple dozen in this box alone, including the epic Koosman/Snider combo at the top of the post and the above Dave Kingman.
Featured next to "Kong" here is a rare shot of Tony LaRussa from his playing days, coming from the tough-to-find TCMA 1960's checklist.
Each card from this trio of '70s oddballs set me back a mere buck a piece.
Since I knew my budget was waning, I decided to try and get the most out of my remaining cash.
I asked the vendor if he could go 3/$1 on the cards marked at a buck in the half-price box. So, basically, I was proposing a buy-two, get-one-free deal.
He graciously accepted. At that point, I could've hugged him. Had he not complied, I probably would've had to put a few of these late '70s Galasso Glossy Greats back in the bin. And that would've been painful.
All of the cards you see above fell under the 3/$1 umbrella, in fact. Each and every single one.
The Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance combo. The "clean" Ray Schalk and "dirty" Eddie Cicotte from the infamous 1919 Black Sox. The rare Zack Wheat and Heinie Groh cardboard sightings. The hilariously in-action Hughie "Ee-Yah" Jennings. The "Big" Ed Walsh, featured during his four-game stint as a Boston Brave.
I'm having a hard time comprehending all the old-time oddball awesomeness in this page.
Of course, though, the Hoyt-ster deserves a scan all to himself.
With a two-dollar price tag, I ended up shelling out a whole buck for this one. But, if you know anything about my obsession with Mr. Wilhelm, you'll know how big of a bargain that was for me.
Aside from his '58 Topps issue, this is the only card I've seen of Hoyt in an Indians uniform.
It's also one of the few I've seen of him grinning.
In any other box, this would've been the best of the best. No questions asked.
But, at most, Hoyt here has to share "Best Of" honors.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my absolute pleasure to give you the entire 1983 Galasso Seattle Pilots team set, 43 cards in all.
Baseball geeks like myself have long been fascinated with this franchise, one that lasted just a single season in the bigs before moving to Milwaukee and becoming the Brewers.
That geekdom came to a head when I found these, as the set features nearly every single player and coach on the infamous 1969 Seattle Pilots roster. Before last weekend, the only one of these I'd ever seen/owned was card #1, Jim Bouton. (I've shown it here in the past.)
As I've said time and time again, I absolutely love anything related to the Pilots. Originally priced at ten bucks, I was able to take home all 43 cards for just five. It's almost like fate put this thing in that half-price box for me to find.
I can't come up with a better explanation.
Had that half-price box been the only thing on display, I would've been more than satisfied.
But, shockingly enough, the vendor had another stupendous bin ripe for the picking. These puppies were priced at three for a quarter. So, all in all, it was a 12/$1 box!
Like most of its kind, there were certainly some greats to be had in this batch of bargains.
You know, people stop me on the street all the time and ask...
"Nick, just why are you such a big fan of Stadium Club?"
If I could, I'd reach into my pocket and pull out this Kirby Puckett card.
"This. This is why, my friend."
Now if only that could actually happen.
The Griffeys are most likely the best father-son combo this game has ever seen.
Those talents transferred onto their cardboard as well. "Griffey Senior" on the right is a tremendous addition to my "At the Wall" mini-collection.
As it happens, that "Junior" had been on my short list for future "Dime Box Dozen" nominees for a while.
From what I know, the elderly lady featured there won some sort of contest held by the folks at Upper Deck, getting to appear with Griffey on his 1997 Collector's Choice issue.
Ah, the 1990s.
Always finding new ways to surprise me.
For about eight cents each, these were certainly a welcome sight.
I've unofficially decided to build Studio's "Heritage" insert sets. If that Ozzie Smith is any indication, they're about as "throwback" as it gets. (Note the five-fingered glove.)
For some unknown reason, the Ultra Pro brand decided to publish a few of Mike Piazza's prom photos after his breakout 1993 NL Rookie of the Year campaign.
Or at least it looks that way.
This was a shocking development out of the 12/$1 bin.
A legend liquorfractor!
I've never seen these cheaper than a buck or two a piece at card shows. But, at the flea market, I nabbed this Cognac Rogers Hornsby for about eight cents.
I thought I was fair in assuming that it'd be the best this bin had to offer.
However, that was before I found the...
Finding a 12/$1 box is hard enough. Finding vintage in a 12/$1 box is darn near impossible.
You just never know when those cardboard gods are going to strike, I guess.
Against all odds, I found a couple budding stacks of vintagey goodness in this vendor's 12/$1 bins. We're talkin' good early '70s vintage, too.
Among my gets was this, my first card (and rookie card) of ex-Phillies manager Charlie Manuel during his playing days. After a six-year big league career (and a .198 career average), he later found success in Japan as a player and as an MLB skipper.
At such an obnoxious price, I couldn't help but add a few cards to my defunct teams binder.
These are a couple of the last Senators cards ever issued. In fact, it's the second Paul Casanova card I've found in as many trips to the flea market.
And, in case you were wondering, both of these do indeed smell like discount bin vintage.
Yes, I've been smelling my cards.
Even iconic, well-loved '75s were no stranger to the discount depths.
Both of these proved to be nifty adds to my frankenset.
The Meoli is actually a card I've wanted to track down for a while. Aside from the terrific action shot, it's the very first card featured in one of the best books ever written, Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker.
That alone cemented it in my memory.
And, before Mr. Ferguson came along, I didn't think there were any "plays at the plate" in the '75 checklist.
Okay, I've kept you waiting long enough.
It's time to reveal that grand finale I alluded to earlier. Please keep in mind that the card you're about to see actually came out of this 12/$1 box. I wouldn't lie to you.
That was my first reaction upon seeing this card in a 12/$1 bin.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Was my second.
Wait, should this thing REALLY be in here?
Was my third.
I figured there was a good chance someone accidentally put this one in his 12/$1 box. No way was it supposed to be had for eight cents.
So, being the honest soul I am, I kindly asked the vendor if Mr. Amoros here was really supposed to be in such a bargain-basement group. He said, and I quote...
"Yeah. There's some writing on it there. And a crease over there."
And that's how I took home a beautiful 1956 Topps Sandy Amoros for eight cents. Dodger fans know him for his amazing catch in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series. (Which made for a pretty neat photo.)
Oh, and it happens to feature a staggeringly nice "play at the plate" shot, complete with a Yogi Berra cameo.
That's not even mentioning the cool bit of writing, either. Some young (and perhaps broken-hearted) collector scratched out the "Brooklyn" part of the Dodgers moniker, updating the team's move to Los Angeles prior to the '58 season.
It's easily the oldest card I've ever found in a dime-or-less box. In fact, it's not even close.
I can never do enough flea market preaching around here. Again, I highly encourage you to find a local flea market and go to it.
After all, you never know when you'll find your Sandy Amoros.