Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flea market comes to life, Pt. 2

Well, that's it.

I guess I can retire now.

If you'll excuse me, I'll be putting this up for auction righ...wait, what? You're telling me this is a reprint? Shucks. The fourth T206 Honus Wagner I've found in a dime box and they've all been reprints.

Okay, seriously. I'm not naive enough to believe I'll ever own a T206 Wagner. Much less find one in a dime box.

But this awesome reprint of the most iconic card in history is a great way to kick off the second and final part of my flea market recap. Tonight, we'll be digging through the rest of my dime finds from the one awesome vendor that keeps coming up over and over again.

Though it doesn't have an exact date on the back, I have to believe this reprint was produced during the '80s. The back lists the value of the famous T206 Wagner at $100,000.

Hmm. Anyone have a hundred grand I can borrow?

I'll guarantee you at least twenty times that in return.

I've had a love affair with reprints for as long as I can remember.

While I'm proud to say that I do own a few authentic Goudeys, I doubt I'll ever have the actual versions of these two stars.

Reprints, though obviously not the real thing, are a great way to enjoy the beauty of old, often unaffordable cardboard at friendly prices.

That said, I did procure a little bit of dime box vintage sweetness on Sunday.

While he was one of the greatest third basemen ever, Eddie Mathews wasn't the most successful manager. He had a 149-161 career record in one full season and parts of two others at the helm of the Braves.

I honestly didn't even know he was ever a skipper until fairly recently. Either way, finding a vintage Hall of Famer in a dime box had to have been one of the better scores of the day.

Besides, any card with a Lew Burdette mention is okay in my book.

I can't say I remember finding anything from SSPC in a dime box before.

Quarter and fifty-cent boxes, sure. But not dime boxes. This was the one and only SSPC card I saw on Sunday, and it sure managed to pack a punch.

The man above is none other than Bobby Bonds, pictured during his lone season as a Yankee in 1975. I had never seen this particular card before and couldn't believe I got it for so cheap.

Here's to finding more dime box SSPCs in the future.

As usual, this guy's dime boxes were packed to the gills with mini-collection hits.

This neat "autograph" shot of Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (complete with a few cards within the card!) was just the beginning.

Mini-collections are the only reason I'd ever voluntarily buy anything of Barry Bonds.

I can briefly set aside my hatred of the guy when it comes to throwbacks as great as those.

A couple for my "bat barrel" and "award show" themes.

I usually don't like sketch cards, but that Matsui is a rare exception.

Even some of the game's greatest pitchers can slot into my silly mini-collections from time to time.

The Maddux, of course, is a terrific shot of the new Hall of Famer at the plate. The Ryan is a great addition to my brand spankin' new "tip of the cap" mini-collection.

Perhaps more importantly, it also comes from the Mother's Cookies oddball set. Those are usually tough finds around these parts, considering they were distributed regionally and nowhere close to where I live.

One of my dreams is to find a dime box filled with Mother's Cookies cards.

Oh, how sweet that would be...

This might have been the most fascinating find of the day.

I've had many different people send me copies of Tony Fernandez's 1993 Topps issue. Considering the action-packed double play shot, I can see why. (Though I could do without the Barry Bonds cameo.)

You'll probably notice something a little different about this one. There's no nameplate on it, merely a blank spot where the ribbon-like '93 Topps banner should be.

I did a little research and couldn't find anything that suggested this was part of a special set or any kind of intentional release by Topps. Most signs seem to point to it simply being a printing error. A rather large one, at that.

Nobody's perfect.

Because there aren't that many to chase, I've never officially declared a "Man's Best Friend" mini-collection.

I'd call it something else, but dogs seem to be the only animals featured with ballplayers on cards. It's been an unofficial goal of mine to build this Milkbone oddball series, as each issue features a player with their beloved dog(s). They don't pop up too often, so I still have a long way to go.

I guess the flea market would be the appropriate place to find cards like these. Get it?

Hey, I never said all the jokes would be funny.

If you're at all a fan of the Ken Burns's Baseball PBS series, do yourself a favor and pick up the accompanying card set.

Having studied it religiously since the day my parents got it for me as a Christmas present so many years ago, I know the entire checklist by heart.

That's what made this trio of cards so surprising. The design was obviously familiar, but I didn't recognize any of the photos. That sent me off for another little research session.

I found that these are actually from an oddball set that Little Debbie also released in 1994.

Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about the Ken Burns series, a new facet presents itself.

These are all great cards, but I was ready to glaze over them when they appeared in one of Sunday's dime boxes, thinking they were dups.

That is, until I noticed the rather, well, glazed feel each one had, vastly different than the old cardboard touch we've all come to know and love. That could only mean one thing.

Topps Tiffany!

Like so many other items I found on Sunday, Tiffanys aren't exactly easy finds.

Much less ones featuring big stars like these.

I don't care where this hobby takes me.

Finding short-prints in dime boxes is a thrill that will never get old.

I found a stack of those beautiful Cracked Ice parallels about halfway through one of the quartet of dime boxes.

I may be apathetic towards Bowman, but those things certainly stand out.

On that note, how awesome is it that a guy named Bo Bowman once appeared in a Bowman checklist? Sadly, Bo never got above Single-A and has been out of baseball since 2009.

Part of me likes to think that he made the Bowman checklist that year for his name alone.

Maybe Topps does have a little sense of humor left.

I dig into most dime boxes on a mission to find cards of failed rookies.

It's become kind of a side collection of mine over the past year or so. (As if I needed any other little projects.)

There's something inherently captivating to me about once-hotshot prospects who quickly became dime box fodder.

Most semi-devoted baseball fans should know the names of Corey Patterson, Andy LaRoche, Brandon Wood, and Kei Igawa. All were expected to do great things in the big leagues, but none came all that close to following up on their promise.

It's easy to see why they're dime box material these days.

Finding rookies of these guys for dimes, on the other hand, was a tad more surprising.

Each enjoyed vast amounts of success in the majors and (save for Canseco) had distinguished careers.

Aside from Doc Gooden, I wouldn't say I collect any player from the quartet you see above. Similar to the failed rookies, however, something inside me just couldn't let them go for a few silver FDRs.

Plus, the fact that I can find a Jose Canseco rookie in a dime box at all is funny to me. His '86 Fleer Update first-year is even an error card, to boot. Note the pitching designations (such as W, L, ERA, etc.) atop the stat lines on the back.

Curiouser and curiouser.

This is one of those sets that I can't decide whether to love or hate.

Like its inaugural release from the year prior, it's hard to deny that 1996 Fleer Emotion XL was (and still is) different from the rest of the pack.

Each player was given an adjective that supposedly described their emotion. They range from the common enduring (Lee Smith) to words like adroit (John Mabry) that sent me to the dictionary. (Clever or skillful in using the hands or the mind.)

I'll admit, I got a little excited when I found a budding stack of these things near the end of my dime box digs. I don't own a whole lot of them, and the set does feature a lot of players I collect.

But I'm still up in the air about how I feel about the whole Emotion brand.

Ask me in a year or two, and I probably still won't have a good answer.

Nearly half of a whole row in one of the 3200-count boxes on display was filled with just about every Tristar Obak card you can imagine.

Obak is one of those sets that I can't believe I didn't discover sooner. Sure, the cards themselves won't blow anyone away, but they cover a lot of those little pieces of baseball minutiae that I find fascinating.

There's Ernest Thayer, the man who wrote "Casey at the Bat", with a fine honey on his arm. There's "Crash" Davis, an obscure minor leaguer whose name was the inspiration for Kevin Costner's character in Bull Durham. 

And there's Eiji Sawamura, a man who struck out Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, and Babe Ruth during an exhibition All-Star Game in 1934. Did I mention that Sawamura was 17 years old at the time?

Let's not forget a new addition to my Black Sox collection with the Chick Gandil centerpiece, a card I didn't even know existed before Sunday.

Obak is the gift that keeps on giving.

I already discussed the bulk of my oddball finds in yesterday's post, but these may have been the best of them all.

TCMA may be the best-kept secret in the history of baseball cards. Since most of their sets didn't have very wide releases and weren't distributed in pack form, they can be hard to find in today's hobby.

Luckily, I have people like my local flea market vendor to help save the day. This page of TCMA greatness comes from a few different award-themed sets the brand released in 1985. There were ten of them in this dime box, and I bought every single one. (Not pictured is Harvey Kuenn.)

I couldn't put them in my purchase pile fast enough.

I don't know if I had one surefire favorite card from Sunday's flea market bonanza.

If I had to choose, though, this '98 UD Piazza might get the nod.

The guy's dime boxes held dozens and dozens of Piazzas. I bought some for myself and even more for other bloggers, since all of them featured him with the Dodgers.

All of them, that is, except one.

When we're talking "short term stops", Mike Piazza as a Marlin is pretty much the ultimate. The guy was dealt to the Marlins by the Dodgers, played in just five games in Florida, and then was promptly traded to the Mets.

The strangest part is that it all happened right smack dab in the middle of Piazza's peak. He wasn't some old washed-up vet making the rounds. (Fun fact: Mike Piazza hit eight career triples in 16 seasons. One of those came during his five-game stint as a Marlin.)

This is my fourth card of Piazza in wildly unfamiliar Marlins gear. Odd, considering he only spent five games with the team.

It may well have been the best of the staggering 575 different dime finds I purchased on Sunday, along with my stack of 25 quarter cards.

After all was said and done, the ever-generous vendor charged me just fifteen bucks for the lot. Fifteen bucks.

There aren't many better ways to spend an hour-and-a-half on a warm Sunday afternoon. What really gets me is that the guy thanked me for spending so much time at his table as I walked away with a brick of baseball cards under my arms.

No, sir.

Thank you.


Jeremya1um said...

The Fernandez looks like a Toppsgold card that is missing the gold foil.

Mike said...

Wow,great day at the flea market!! those Little Debbie and Obak cards!!....and a Bowman on a Bowman!.....its like an ice cream man named Cone!!!!...haha!!

Mark Kaz said...

Wow, I'd faint if I found a Piazza Marlins card in a dime box!

P-town Tom said...

Believe it or not, the 2009 Obak set is the one that got me back into collecting. Lots of great factoids in the Obak series.

John Miller said...

As always awesome DIG! BTW, there are two versions (1 listed error) of that 1973 Mathews (aka Coaches card), pertaining specifically to Lew, one has the right ear showing and one does NOT.

Adam Kaningher said...

Pretty amazing haul. There's some really obscure stuff in there.

I do, however, remember that Nolan Ryan card from Mother's Cookies. My mom bought a few boxes in the summer of 1994, and there were a couple Piazza/Salmon Rookie of the Year cards that year as well. I even have the same Nolan Ryan card you found (#10 of 10.)

Even the cookies themselves were memorable. They were sandwich cremes--pretty much an Oreo, but with baseball team logos stamped into the cookie dough.

Matthew Scott said...

I cringe every time I see an Andy LaRoche card. It pains me to think he was the center piece of the Jason Bay deal.

Mark said...

Great pickups, Nick. I'm drooling over the Piazza Marlins card. They're not easy to come by on the cheap.

Bru said...

There's a Mets prospect named Matthew Bowman in this year's Bowman checklist. I had the same thought about him.