October is like one big last hurrah.
Last hurrah for warm weather. Last hurrah for baseball. And, as my collection will be sorry to hear, the last hurrah for the local flea market.
This past Sunday marked the final weekend of the flea market season. As anyone who lives in or around Chicago knows, late October weather in the midwest often doesn't cooperate with outdoor events.
As fate would have it, the flea market gods smiled down on me once again. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day in the upper-60s on Sunday, unheard of for this time of year. That, of course, meant I was able to make the trek up to the local flea market one last time.
Better yet, I was able to do some digging with a friend and fellow card collector this time around. If you read his blog yesterday, you might already know that Jeff of "2x3 Heroes" made the trip up to my part of town to join in the flea market fun.
I finally have someone who can validate all these fantasy-like stories I tell about the place.
It exists, people.
Strolling through the flea market and talking cardboard with Jeff was definitely an awesome experience.
One of my regular vendors even remarked that I had a whole "posse" with me when Jeff and I walked up to his table. A card collecting posse. I like the sound of that.
Jeff had already hit this guy's table by the time I arrived, but he was nice enough to stand around while I did a little digging. After a while, we discovered some cards in the guy's quarter box that weren't what they originally seemed.
Though I initially thought they were ordinary old base issues, this "double dip" Ramirez...
...and all six of these are actually from last year's White Sox retail-based team set.
The Sale is what tipped me off. It's the only one of the six to feature a different photo than the standard base card. (A massive downgrade, I might add.)
Though they were originally priced at a quarter per, the guy gave Jeff and I the insider's deal and let these go for a dime a pop.
Jeff actually inspired me to take a closer look through this vendor's dime boxes.
I thought I'd already picked through most of the guy's stuff over the past few months, but talking with Jeff made me reconsider. He noted how he'd found that awesome Melvin Mora before I arrived. Luckily, the guy had a second copy for me to pounce on.
That, coupled with a few other spectacular cards from 2004 UD, made me glad I took a second look.
As always, however, my other regular vendor was the real story from Sunday's trip to the flea market.
At only around 200 cards, my dime finds were actually a little lighter last week. Those, coupled with around 40 quarter cards, a dozen 50-centers, and a handful of other miscellany (all of which you'll see in Part 2), set me back a mere 20 bucks.
Jeff and I didn't waste any time in digging through the guy's cards. We probably spent a good 45 minutes at his table. Though I didn't get as many as usual, Sunday's dime finds still managed to pack a wallop. As always.
I don't really collect Shawn Green, but the very Blair Witch-like backdrop on this one spooked me into buying it.
There was a ton of early Stadium Club goodness to go around.
This dime box made it painfully obvious that I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to these sets.
I collect Brad Ausmus anyways, but the umbrella in the background of that one especially fascinates me for some reason.
Though you obviously can't tell from the back, the Dykstra is actually the silver signature parallel of the infamous Hooter-ific card.
With a back like that, who needs the front?
This guy's dime boxes aren't immune to a little parallel action.
Jeff was actually the one who first spotted that Colon. (Yeah, that sentence didn't sound right to me, either.)
He didn't need it, but I sure did. One of the more creative shots in what has been a general yawn-fest for All-Star cards these past few years.
The Punto is actually from 2014 Update, which is shocking considering the set just hit the shelves a couple weeks ago.
Already dime box fodder.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again.
The '90s was a strange time for baseball cards.
Further evidence for my previous claim that this vendor inherited inventory from a Matt Williams collector at some point.
While I may not officially collect his cards...
...there was no way I was going to let such wacky insert slip through my fingers for a dime each.
I'm particularly fond of this concept, as I'd never seen this Viewfinder-like design before Sunday.
Only the '90s, man.
More from the dime box depths.
I've come to count on the fact that this guy's discount bin is always good for a handful of prime rookie cards.
The same goes for oddballs.
My oddball collection has probably doubled since the dawn of this flea market season. At the least.
The sheer variety of the ones I've found is second-to-none.
Even so, my regular guy managed to up the usual oddball ante on Sunday.
Again, Jeff was originally the one who spotted these beauties. They're from the 1978 SSPC Yankees series, and I'd only been vaguely familiar with them before this weekend.
From left to right, we have Ron Guidry, Paul Blair (in a rare Yankee appearance), Graig Nettles, and Lou Piniella. All for a dime a pop.
Can't beat it.
Or can you?
From personal experience, I can say that these '80s Coke oddballs are fairly few and far between. I think I only had one or two in my collection prior to Sunday.
That changed with the handful of groovy Astros that fell out of this guy's dime box. It's not much, but that tiny Coca-Cola logo really does stand out.
I definitely had a Coke and a smile after throwing these into my purchase pile.
I discovered a pit of late '70s team cards in a small section of one of the boxes.
Since my collection is sorely lacking in them, I went to town. I pretty much cleaned the guy out.
I'm bad with faces, so I often don't even try to identify who's who on most of these things. That said, I did manage to spot Bill Lee in the top row, fourth from the right. (And to his left is Dennis Eckersley, I think.)
After one taste of vintage, I needed more.
Luckily, the guy had a new box on display this time around.
It was a box of miscellaneous, unpriced, and largely weathered vintage. I found a few I liked and asked for a price on them. Then came the reply.
I ask you, dear reader, are there two better words in the English language than FREE VINTAGE? I think not.
I haven't picked up a Colt .45s card in a while, so that scribbled-on Carl Warwick seemed like a fun no-brainer. The Larry Bowa completes my "Topps set", as I now have every Topps card of his from that '70 rookie to his '85 finale.
I can't get used to seeing him as a bright-eyed young man.
I've been making a conscious effort to pick up more Fred Lynn cards lately, and I was surprised to find that I didn't yet have a copy of his '77 in my collection.
The Hand (aloha, Mr. Hand) is yet another chapter in the never-ending fable of '73 Topps.
And I'm pretty sure that's Bert Campaneris in the batter's box there.
This was the last and easily the greatest find from the free vintage bin.
I think everyone should try and track down least one card of Wally Moon. This is my second issue of The Unibrowed One, and, better yet, it comes from '65 design. (My all-time favorite.)
As the writing at the top indicates, Mr. Moon once belonged to Stan, but later found its way into Jimmy's hands.
Did Jimmy trade for it? Did Jimmy steal it? Did Jimmy win it in a flipping contest? Did Jimmy and Stan have a bare-knuckle brawl over it?
We'll never know.
All I know is that it might be time to scratch out "Jimmy" and write "Nick", because this one's never leaving my sight.
Believe it or not, all that is basically only half of what I found during an action-packed day at the flea market with Jeff.
Between friends, warm weather, and baseball cards, what more does a guy need?