Saturday, March 30, 2013

The day before Vegas: Interlude

This is kind of a new thing for my card show write-ups.

Although I was planning to unveil the first of my all-vintage posts today, I didn't end up having the time  to do so.

Instead, I thought I'd bring you an "intermission" post of sorts. Tonight, I'll show a few more of my discount bin finds. On top of that, you'll get a brief glimpse into some of the vintage to come.

For starters, I did indeed buy that autograph card you see above. It's probably been years since I've taken one of those things home from a card show.

Hear me out on this one, though. I had a pretty good excuse as to why I decided to purchase a minor league autograph issue of journeyman Jeremy Reed.

I found it in a dime box.

While it's not the first time that's happened, it was still a shock to me. The fact that Reed is one of my more obscure "binder guys" was icing on the cake.

I have yet to find a dime bin jersey card, though.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised at all if one awaits me in the future.

As I mentioned in my initial card show post, one of the dime boxes I dug through was strangely Indians-centric.

Because of that, I ended up taking home more Tribe cards than any other franchise.

This stunning Fleer insert of Mr. Thome was one of the better of the bunch.

Just some more terrific cardboard photography here.

Omar Vizquel will go down as one of the greatest fielders of all-time. That Stadium Club shot shows (what I believe to be) the future HOFer working his craft.

I dug up a few "bat barrel" cards from the discount bins, but none were better than that one of "The Kid".

Although I've only had that one for a few days, it's already one of the centerpieces of my Carter collection.

These are prime examples of a great card show "tip" I've picked up over the years.

Always, always give your finds a good look-over after the fact.

Not only is it a ton of fun, but you might find something you missed the first time during the process.

I plucked these from a dime box simply because I thought they'd make for fine additions to my Ichiro and Adrian Gonzalez collections.

As I was rehashing my card show glories for about the fifth time yesterday, I decided to flip them over.

To my surprise, I found that each of the small stack of '07 Ultra cards I'd purchased were of the "hobby" variety, individually numbered out of 999 copies. It's the first time I've ever found a numbered Ichiro out of a dime box.

Always double-check, folks.

Here's a couple nifty new quarter box finds.

Although you'd never know it from the awful scan-allergic foil on the left of that insert, R.A. Dickey's "Elite Skills" insert highlights his superb knuckleball ability.

And, unlike the few times I ordered a beer in Vegas, I didn't get carded in the process of purchasing that Soriano "liquorfractor".

I just handed over the quarter and went on my way.

I hope you're not sick of my Panini Golden Age babble yet.

Because here's a couple more.

It's a great set, plain and simple.

Well, the time has come to showcase a few vintage pieces that didn't quite "make the cut" for my final two card show posts.

I'd love to show off every single vintage card I picked out during the course of Saturday's show, but that just isn't in the cards time-wise. 

Still, I picked out a few of the awesome "also-rans" that I felt should've been recognized nevertheless.

You'll be viewing quite a few Hostess cards in the posts to come. This 50-cent piece of "Swingin' A" Gene Tenace is just a brief taste of the candy-coated side of cardboard you'll soon see.

If I had to pick, I think '76 would go at the top of my year-by-year Hostess rankings.

It's one of the more patriotic sets you'll find.

These should appease the many Dodger fans in the blogosphere for now.

Although I'd never had much interest in acquiring his cardboard before the fact, I somehow found myself scooping up all the discounted Bill Russell cards I could on Saturday.

Surprisingly, I managed to find his 1970 Topps rookie out of a terrific 3/$1 box.

The Cey was the lone vintage piece I unearthed from that Golden Age-based dime box I talked about on Thursday.

Thanks to the efforts of Mr. Night Owl, I've decided to devote more time and energy to my collection of "The Penguin" in recent months. His '76 Topps issue is now the oldest card of his in my binders.

Not bad for a dime, I'd say.

You'll be hearing a lot more about an awesome 12/$5 vintage bin I discovered in the coming days, but here's a couple that I had to leave out of the fun.

The only reason that '66 Flood didn't make the cut was because I found an even better card of his from the very same discount bin, which you'll see in the future.

Still, that '66 Topps piece is one bad-ass piece of cardboard.

Given its semi-high number status, that '71 Topps Cleon Jones (#527) was a must-have from a 12/$5 box.

The fact that these two didn't make the cut should tell you how awesome this discount bin truly was.

But, like I said, more on that later.

Lastly, we have this nifty 1960 Topps piece of the Czechoslovakian-born Elmer Valo.

Because of his awe-inspiring '57 Topps issue, Valo will always hold a special place in my collection. The fact that his cards usually come pretty cheap is a bonus.

This one became mine for about 33 cents, a part of a few 3/$1 off-conditioned vintage stacks I found from a terrific table.

Still, one particular quality of this piece edges out everything else.

After all was said and done, Elmer Valo played in exactly eight games for the 1960 Yankees, never getting a hit with the franchise.

Definitely one of the finer "unfamiliar uniform" pieces you'll find in this hobby.

While the few I featured tonight are terrific, you'll be seeing even more awesome vintage in the posts to come.

I hope this post got you at least a little bit more excited for those.

Since I won't be posting tomorrow, I'd like to wish all my readers out there a very happy and safe Easter holiday!

I'll be back Monday with more of what I dug up from the card show discount vintage bins.

Believe me, they featured a treasure trove of goodies.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The day before Vegas, Pt. 2: Sleepers

Around this time every year, fantasy baseball starts to kick into gear.

While I was really into it a few seasons ago, I don't have much interest in fantasy sports these days. It's just not my bag anymore.

Even so, I do take the time to peruse the "sleeper" list with each coming season. I've always found those types of under-the-radar players to be the most interesting ones to track during the year.

If this blog were a fantasy baseball draft, dime boxes and discount vintage would probably be the Trout and Cabrera of the league. They're the more well-known, mainstream aspects of my writings.

Around here, the "sleeper" of the cardboard universe would have to be the quarter boxes.

Because of this blog's title, I don't mention quarter bins all that much. Still, while they may add up a lot quicker than dime cards, I've found that you can get a lot of enjoyment out of a few quarters in this hobby.

Some of the time, they can net you cards that don't often wind up in dime boxes. I've found that newer inserts, like Jay Bruce's awesome Opening Day "Superstar Celebrations" piece you see above, are often prime quarter bin material.

While we'll swing back into more dime box material later on in this post, I thought we'd start the evening off with a few of my quarter and 5/$1 finds from Saturday's show.

After all was said and done, they certainly had a lot to offer.

For a quarter, I'll take absolutely any Ernie Banks card I can find.

As a lifelong Cubs fan, though, something about this particular piece instantly jumped out at me.

"Mr. Cub" isn't wearing his retired #14 jersey there. Although the initial digit is obscured, I'd guess that it's a #19 uniform.

Even with quite a bit of research, I can't find a single instance of Banks sporting number 19. My big book o' cards makes no reference to a "player swap" error, either.

From there, I can only think of two options. This has to either be a spring training shot from early in Banks's career, or the person on the front isn't "Mr. Cub" at all, despite what my "big book" says.

Either way, it made for one of the more intriguing finds of the afternoon.

In my book, quarter boxes are the best place to go for numbered cards.

Although I used to do it fairly often, my days of digging through dollar boxes in search of numbered pieces are pretty much over.

In the present day, though, I'm always glad to fork over a quarter for a neat numbered card, especially one that features a "fan favorite" such as Craig Counsell. 

Keep the name Mike Schmidt in the back of your mind.

We'll be discussing him in more detail a bit later.

I featured one of these in my "preview post" before I left for Vegas.

In the end, I couldn't live with showing just one of 'em. As a result, here's a couple more for your viewing pleasure.

As part of a 5/$1 deal, I pounced on the few of these I found. While every World Series is historic, the two programs featured here are especially so.

In 1905, Hall of Fame hurler Christy Mathewson fired an unheard-of three shutouts against the Philadephia A's in the Giants' five-game victory.

And, of course, 1932 was the year Babe Ruth hit his fabled "called shot" against my beloved Cubs at Wrigley Field.

While I'm a huge fan of "The Babe", it's a bittersweet moment in time for me.

I wrangled these up from a couple miscellaneous quarter boxes throughout the day.

The separate tables that landed me this father-son duo were more vintage-based, which is what we'll be discussing in my final two card show posts.

In case you're wondering, Pete Rose Jr. did indeed enjoy a brief cup of coffee with the Reds in 1998, cracking two singles in 16 at-bats that year.

Which left him 4,254 hits behind his dad.

Once you get past the shiny new inserts and numbered cards, quarter bins can still be a nest for simply fun cardboard.

I'm always quick to shell out a quarter for terrific multiple-exposure and broken bat shots like these.

In fact, the "Bo" might be the most prolific broken bat card...ever.

As I found at Saturday's show, quarter boxes can also be home to minis.

This fantastic Ty Cobb tobacco reprint fell out of that 5/$1 box I mentioned earlier.

Oh, and speaking of minis...

This post is about to get a bit mini-crazy.

Because of my Vegas, I had a slightly smaller budget at this show than in ones past. Now, for the most part, I was still able to buy everything I could've wanted. As you'll see in later posts, it certainly didn't affect my vintage allotment.

That slight dip in budget really only came into play once during the course of the show.

About halfway through, I found one of these things packed to the gills with quarter minis. All were nicely separated by set, containing everything from Goudey to Goodwin Champions.

Had I had a few more bucks to spend, I would've gone wild at this table. In the end, though, I limited myself to a five-dollar mini budget.

I guess I can't be too regretful. I still managed to land 21 awesome minis for my binders. (The generous vendor let me pick an extra one on the house.)

While I was never that big a fan of UD Goudey, I'm quick to recognize the absolute awesomeness of the pair of HOFers you see above.

I tried to keep things as diverse as possible with my five bucks.

My bite-sized purchases ranged from Goudey to Gypsy Queen to A&G. After some deliberation, I decided that I couldn't leave either of these behind, especially that beautiful black-bordered card of Mr. Derrek Lee.

As you might guess, selecting just 21 minis out of hundreds wasn't an easy process. There was quite a bit of agonizing on my part.

Of those minis, though...

...most came from the Obak brand.

Although I didn't recognize its greatness until recently, Tristar continually put together amazing checklists for this release.

Thanks to their efforts, I was able to land minis of Eddie Cicotte and Ray Chapman from this vendor. And Wally Pipp. And Jim Abbott. And Ron Necciai.

Five bucks has rarely been better spent.

As far as the quarter finds went, this was my absolute favorite find of the day.

While I haven't yet landed a copy of Ichiro's actual 2001 Bowman rookie, this is probably the next best thing.

I've never paid much attention to Bowman Chrome, but these '01-style inserts from last year are nifty. Even better, the back of the version I plucked from this quarter bin is in Japanese.

While this blog may be called "Dime Boxes", keep an eye out for those quarter cards at future shows, folks.

They can still be a lot of fun.

If you've made it up to here, fellow reader, I thank you.

I realize my card show posts can be fairly lengthy, but I just love writing them that much. Reliving a day at the show is one of my biggest joys as a blogger.

Anyways, I hope your thirst for cardboard isn't satisfied just yet, because we're about to take a journey into one of the better boxes I sifted through at Saturday's show.

Like a few of the other vendors, the "12/$1 box guy" has become one of the bigger forces at this show.

On top of his couple of massive bargain bins, he's also featured a kick-ass discount vintage box at the last few shows. But we'll get to that in a later post.

Price-wise, these 12/$1 boxes are a smidge better than dime bins. If my math is right, cards at 12/$1 are about eight cents per.

This particular vendor's 12/$1 selection is almost entirely comprised of pre-millenium cardboard. In fact, this 2001 American Pie piece of Mr. Grich was the only post-2000 card I snagged from his table.

The rest featured a smorgasbord of, well...everything.

Considering how legendary their careers were, you'd think that cards of Christy Mathewson and Joe DiMaggio would warrant more than an eight-cent price tag.

As I found at this table, you'd be wrong.

As I've mentioned in past posts, I always seem to take home a few of those Pacific Nolan Ryan cards after every show.

This 12/$1 bin continued that streak. While largely forgettable, the set does actually include a few memorable photos.

Still, despite how historic that "tip of the cap" shot is, I can't stop looking at Pete Rose's hair.

That's the definition of a bowl haircut right there.

Although I've never been that high on "combo cards", Fleer managed to produce quite a few gems of the sort back in the day.

While a "double sunset" sounds like something out of a stoner movie, that's exactly what we have with the card on the right. Both Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski enjoyed their final cards in '84.

Speaking of HOF catchers...

Here are a couple shockingly beautiful pieces.

I should've decided to collect "The Kid" years ago. Largely thanks to these 12/$1 boxes, I took home another dozen or so cards of his this time around.

This time next year, I wouldn't be shocked if my Carter collection numbered in the hundreds.

If you're a fan of overproduction-era gems, then this 12/$1 bin would've been perfect for you.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of another "double play" card that features a pitcher as the baserunner. The Smith is now currently the only one in my collection.

Not bad for eight cents.

Without a doubt, this was one of my greatest finds of the day.

I have absolutely no information about the specific origins of Mr. Swoboda here. All I can tell you is that it looks about a hundred times better in person.

Complete with utterly psychedelic borders, this oddball depicts Swoboda's famous game-saving catch from Game 4 of the 1969 World Series in painting form.

Maybe I should have it framed.

It's that awesome.

Early '80s Fleer had a tendency to be a bit awkward.

Still, that's what makes those sets so lovable to me. These "hardware" shots look slightly amateurish, but there's something innately charming about both.

Plus, that shot of Mr. Sutter there looks to have been snapped in complete darkness. I'd like to know the story behind that one.

And, the Schmidt, if you'll remember, was a former "Dime Box Dozen" need of mine. In fact, I just decided to devote a full-on player collection to his likeness before Saturday's show.

In hindsight, it turned out to be a pretty good decision on my part.

My discount bin travels landed me a total of thirty-five new Schmidt cards for my binders.

While I don't have an exact count, I'd guess about 30 of them came from these spectacular 12/$1 boxes.

Even though the aforementioned "Dime Box Dozen" need was my favorite, it was far from the only gem I discovered.

The Classic "flashback" minor league issue in the center-right was a great find. And, much to my surprise, I discovered that Schmidt was granted a hallowed "interview" card in 1989 Upper Deck.

It's a fitting "centerpiece" for this particular page.

While I'm looking forward to unleashing my vintage finds onto the blogosphere, the discount bins made for just as many terrific discoveries at Saturday's show.

Nothing I've shown throughout these first couple posts set me back more than a quarter. That's pretty amazing when you really stop and think about it.

Even after all these years of collecting, I'm still surprised at what a dig through the discount bins can uncover.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The day before Vegas, Pt. 1: Dimes-a-fun

As of about six o'clock this morning, I am officially back home.

While it's nice to be writing this post from the comfort of my own bed, I'm sad that my grand spring break is over.

As you might guess, Las Vegas was an absolute blast.

While I'm probably the opposite of what you'd call a "party animal", I couldn't help but enjoy a few of the 21-and-over privileges that go along with a trip to Vegas. Although I lost a decent chunk of my gambling cash, I did enjoy a fair share of free drinks from the casinos.

On top of that, my grandfather lives in Vegas. Given that neither my dad nor I get to see him all that much, it was fantastic visiting him on the last day of our trip.

However, I think the highlight of the vacation involved the very photo you see above. For those of you who aren't familiar with him, that's yours truly with Penn Jillette, part of the Penn & Teller duo.

Knowing that I'd always been a huge fan of theirs, my dad surprised me with a couple of tickets to their show at the Rio. To top it off, Penn was gracious enough to sign autographs and snap photos outside of the theater after the fact.

I said it about ten times during the trip, and I'll say it again.

I still can't believe I got to meet Penn!

For now, though, let's get back to what I was doing the day before I left for vacation.

I was at a card show.

Yes, I even brought my finds with me to Vegas. Rehashing all my card show glories filled what little down time there was during my three days of paradise.

As has become custom with my posts of this sort, we'll kick off this four-part recap with a trip through the dime boxes.

While the dime selections were probably a little weaker than the past few mega-shows, I still managed to find quite a few diamonds in the rough.

After all, that's what my collection is all about.

As was the case with November's show, the very first table my dad and I stopped at had a glorious dime box on display.

After entering the gigantic convention hall, I immediately saw that familiar sign.

"All Cards: 10 Cents".

Naturally, I wandered over to the table and started digging. Those signs are like tractor beams to me.

The overarching "theme" of this particular dime bin became evident fairly quickly. It was a "latest-and-greatest" type of batch.

While I love dime bins that feature a little of everything, these are always nice to stumble across. Thanks to the "latest-and-greatest" bins, I know I don't have to drop the money on a "Living Legend" blaster at Target.

They'll all just wind up in dime boxes eventually.

While I wasn't impressed with what I'd seen from these "All Rose, All the Time" cards, I'll admit this triple bat barrel card of "Charlie Hustle" is pretty awesome.

After all is said and done, that's about three cents per barrel.

For a dime a piece, I managed to knock out a few of my dwindling Panini Cooperstown needs as well.

Connie Mack certainly looked fashionable back in the day.

These are quickly becoming dime box staples.

From what I've witnessed, Goodwin Champions has earned the "cast-off" label in the world of cardboard. I've seen stacks upon stacks of them in dime boxes during the last couple shows.

While largely forgettable, there are a few gems to be found within the checklist. The spiffy John McGraw is certainly one of those in my eyes.

That Brian Bosworth sure isn't, though.

I'm not even sure why I bought it.

I haven't bought a pack of anything Bowman-related for at least five years.

More than any other brand, I've found that Bowman is most likely to wind up in dime boxes after all the initial hype of each coming release ends.

While I'm not hell-bent on acquiring Bowman Platinum or Bowman Chrome cards for my various player collections, I'll still scoop them up for a dime any day of the week.

Besides, the Uggla is a nice "throwback" piece, to boot.

As I mentioned in my preview post, though, the unquestioned highlight of this particular dime box was its inclusion of Panini Golden Age singles.

My dig through those stacks confirmed my suspicion.

Logo-less photos aside, Panini Golden Age features one of the most fitting checklists for my collecting preferences.

My non-baseball pickups included both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the Loch Ness Monster, W.H. Kellogg, and Marsha Brady...I mean, Maureen McCormick.

For just sixty cents, I managed to pick up six of the eight "Black Sox" cards within the set. With the "centerpiece" Lefty Williams, I now own at least one solo card of each of the eight blackballed members of that infamous squad.

On top of all that, Golden Age went a long way in quenching my need for "legendary" cardboard. The last few years of Topps have left a gaping hole in that regard.

After all was said and done, I walked away with 76 cards from this table. At least half of those were from the Golden Age brand.

I couldn't be happier about that.

While "latest-and-greatest" dime boxes are great, I probably get a wee bit more enjoyment from digging through a "little of everything" bin.

Luckily, I stumbled upon one of those about halfway through the show.

The guy who had this dime box on display has become a bit of a regular at the last few gatherings. Given his diverse selection of cardboard, he's quickly cemented himself as an "All-Star" vendor in my book.

While this show didn't yield its usual dozens of Vlad-based cardboard, I still managed to pick up a few nifty ones for my binders.

For better or worse, I've always been a sucker for see-through pieces.

At just a dime, this one was an absolute no-brainer.

One of the more redeeming qualities of this particular dig was its knack for late '90s cardboard.

Pardon my language, but anything from that era has been an absolute bitch to find from my experience.

What makes it even more aggravating is the fact that the era featured a huge amount of fantastic photography, especially within the Stadium Club brand.

I think Mr. Lofton here is proof of that.

For whatever reason, this particular dime box dig seemed to uncover quite a few Indians pieces.

The first few handfuls of cards I flipped through were almost entirely comprised of the Tribe.

Although I've never been that interested in the franchise, this experience allowed me to add a boatload of great pieces to my Indians binder.

While I found quite a few new Andre Thorntons, Julio Francos, and Dave Winfields in the process, these were easily among my favorite pieces of Indian cardboard of the day.

Apparently, the headlock is a common form of affection in Cleveland.

Although most collectors probably think I'm crazy, I absolutely love digging through overproduction-era cardboard.

After all, there are a ton of "gems" that I haven't yet discovered.

This particular dime box dig resulted in a stack of new early '90s Score pieces for my collection.

In a way, I guess it's fitting that I found that Frank Thomas card. As my dad and I were entering the convention hall, we saw a guy wielding one of those gigantic bats, tricked out with quite a few signatures.

It's good to see that Score had a sense of humor with their photo selection.

To add to the fun, this dime box also featured a few newer pieces as well.

My eyes gleamed when I saw that sparkly Jonny Gomes parallel at such a terrific price. I'm a big fan of his, and that Topps Update issue ended up being Gomes's only card in 2012.

I've never opened a pack of Topps Pro Debut. I don't intend to in the future, either. Still, while I'm not much on "prospects", I'm always happy to add them to my binders.

As one of my newer "binder inductees", my Will Middlebrooks collection is in its early stages. For a dime, his Pawtucket Red Sox piece from Pro Debut was a fun find.

I'm still not buying a pack of the stuff, though.

Over the last few shows, a new little "dime box habit" has overcome me.

Almost involuntarily, I've constantly found myself picking up rookie cards of once-hot prospects who didn't quite pan out.

I'm sure that Topps Traded Rocco Baldelli rookie went for quite a few smackers back in the day. Now, it's pure dime box material.

Ben Sheets did have quite a few good years, but injuries turned his once-promising career into a "what could have been" story.

No matter how their careers turned out, though, they'll always be welcome in my collection.

Although I don't collect Chipper Jones, I had to pounce on this one for a dime.

Only in this hobby can you buy a "masterpiece" for loose change.

I'm liking 2006 Upper Deck more by the minute.

My recent dime box searches have resulted in quite a few excellent pieces. While the 1000-card-plus checklist is its main drawing card, the photography within the set is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

These are only a couple of the terrific UD cards I plucked from this dime box.

Just look at the anticipation on the faces of those Yankee fans.

As has become the norm with my latest dime box digs, I found quite a few additions to my various "mini-collections" from this vendor.

I'd never even seen this fantastic "multiple exposure" card of the late Jose Lima before Saturday.

In addition to all the terrific finds I'll be featuring over the next few days, I uncovered a stack of new cards that should make their way into my future outgoing trade packages.

Initially, this was supposed to be one of those. Once I saw the Blue Jays insignia, I instantly thought of the couple Jays collectors in the blogosphere.

However, upon reviewing the day's finds, I fell in love with this one. As one of the more beautiful "autograph" cards I've ever come across, I just couldn't bring myself to part with it.

Sorry, Jays fans.

As you probably know by now, I'm an avid "pitcher at the plate" and "throwback" supporter.

Mr. Maddux looks to have his bunting form down pat.

These "cards with kids" are quickly rising up my mini-collection depth chart.

If you were to ask them, I'm sure both Shawon Dunston and Fred McGriff would rate these as their proudest moments on cardboard. (Given that they're aware of them in the first place.)

They're among the most special pieces a card company can produce.

Technically, I guess you could place my Hall of Famer cards under the "mini-collection" category.

In reality, though, it's anything but "mini". My dime box travels over the years have netted thousands upon thousands of new HOFers for my binders.

As you can see above (and with a few of the other cards I've featured thus far), this show continued the trend.

To me, few joys are better than finding a brand new Hall of Famer for a dime.

And I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Because I wasn't exactly sure where else to put it, we'll close out this initial card show post with a tumbling Andre Dawson.

I've had good luck with finding neat cards of "The Hawk" during my various dime box adventures.

This isn't even the first time he's closed out one of my card show posts.

You, Mr. Dawson, are a true Dime Box MVP.

While I had a ton of fun in Vegas, these next couple days should be fairly interesting in their own right as well.

Since I didn't get a chance to do it after the show, I'll be spending the next few days sorting, organizing, scanning, and blogging about my stacks of finds.

That, in many ways, is almost as good as the show itself.

Especially when it comes to these dime box treasures.