I'm convinced that bargain hunting is in my genes.
One of the good things about living near a big city is the fact that there always seems to be deals floating around. I always see tons of garage sale ads in the local paper.
People in the suburbs have a tendency to hoard a lot of trash that could become someone else's treasure, I guess. My dad knows this better than anyone. As I've mentioned many times before, he's an avid record collector.
Over the past few months, he's found quite a few great deals on Craigslist from people who have spare vinyl. He told me he just bought a lot that included eight rare Hank Williams albums yesterday. Total cost? Twenty bucks.
Garage sales have been a vital part of his recent vinyl spree. Every so often, he'll come across one that offers both records and cards. Luckily for me, he has a good eye for both vinyl and cardboard.
I don't recall if he scored any albums out of the deal, but my dad stumbled upon someone with a big tub of cards at a recent garage sale. There wasn't a ton of baseball, but he managed to dig deep and salvage a few gems.
Complete with the iconic Rookie Cup, this terrific '94 Topps Mike Piazza has actually been on my radar for a while.
My dad knows my obsession with oddballs better than anyone.
I was more than happy to take this pair of red-bordered beauties.
My dad took the oddball train even further with a stack from the 1994 Post checklist.
Though it may sound like an oxymoron, these are among the most common oddities in existence. I see them all the time.
While it was an unlicensed set, Post did a nice job of omitting the logos in a rather unobtrusive way. The borders are a bit dull, but I've always had an appreciation for these oddballs.
Almost all the ones my dad found were new to me.
The real coup of this batch was the pile of Conlon Babe Ruths my dad found.
I don't know why, but these have been trickling into my collection at an extraordinary rate lately. I've learned more about the "Sultan of Swat" from reading the backs of these cards than most books could ever teach me.
The photography in this set is simply fantastic. This sampling alone features quite a few great action shots. Not to mention a star-filled portrait of Ruth with Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker in the centerpiece of this page.
And let's not forget that photo of "The Great Bambino" in a dunce-like cap in the top-right.
I think this was my favorite of the bunch.
For one thing, it's a cute addition to my "cards with kids" mini-collection. (I'll come up with a better name for that theme one of these days.)
Also, as the bottom of the card says, Ruth is seen here posing as a righty. The back notes that he did actually take a few at-bats in the right-handed batter's box during his career. Talk about something you'd never see today.
The one problem that often arises with garage sales is people simply wanting too much for their items. I saw someone trying to sell a framed Nolan Ryan plaque that included a 1990 Topps card of his for 100 bucks once.
I'm happy to report that my dad had no such problem with this lot. The owners let him have everything from the Piazza to these Ruths for a single dollar.
An absolute steal.
Not long after that, my dad attended some sort of storage locker/garage sale hybrid.
He said that it was a Storage Wars-esque deal where the people would offer items from storage lockers up for sale. However, the difference with this one was that they were selling the items from the locker individually, so my dad was able to pick and choose what he wanted.
He found a few records to his liking, including an old Bill Haley "Rock Around the Clock" album. Apparently, the storage gods decided to drop some cardboard into the mix.
My dad found a box full of cards. Once again, the initial look wasn't promising. He said it was mostly comprised of cartoon and sci-fi cards, which isn't my bag. However, a more in-depth dig resulted in a few baseball knick-knacks for my binders.
Among the goodies were a stack of "Score Superstar" inserts, a lot that included Jim Abbott and John Olerud cards that I didn't already have. Note the shot of Doc Gooden at the plate as well.
The person in charge asked my dad if he wanted to buy the whole box, which he refused. After that, the guy let my dad take home the dozen or so baseball cards he found for free.
You can't go wrong with free cardboard, right?
As much as I like to glorify them, the harsh reality is that most garage sales don't have anything interesting.
Even if the owners do have cards, they're bound to be boxes and boxes of 1989 Bowman or 1990 Topps. Even worse, the out-of-touch sellers will want insane prices for them. That's exactly what my dad found at one particular garage sale not too long ago.
Now, you'd think he'd know better than to buy a baggie full of 1990 Topps. He does, trust me.
Though there were a few cards I didn't already have in the lot...
...he bought the bag merely for a laugh.
I don't even know where to start.
In his garage sale report to me, my dad said the seller was adamant that the cards were actually worth something. As collectors, it's easy to chuckle at people who still think along those lines, but it's hard for someone to know how overproduced 1990 Topps cards were.
Okay, I won't lie. My dad and I did have a good laugh at the expense of this particular purchase.
For one thing, the bag clearly says FRAGILE!!! and HANDLE WITH CARE. Ironically, the cards themselves were strewn all around the thing without any sort of protection.
Also, the buyer wrote HALL OF FAME COLLECTION even though a good number of guys included aren't Hall of Famers.
The thing that we got the best kick out of was the SERIOUS BUYERS ONLY note. What does that even mean? Whatever it was, I doubt my dad and I were the "serious buyers" the guy had in mind.
The original asking price for the bag was ten bucks. My dad gave the guy three and agreed to "donate" two dollars to his kids' lemonade stand. So, essentially, it cost him five bucks. A small price to pay for a good laugh.
My dad managed to cover the entire the entire garage sale spectrum in a few simple purchases.
He found the good, the bad, and the ugly.