Baseball cards were barely at the back of my mind when I woke up last Saturday.
I'd just finished up with a yet another mammoth filing session the night before and, much to my delight, was able to bask in the glory of a clear desk.
But then my mom had to go and ruin it by telling me about a garage sale happening around town. It was a mere ten-minute drive away, and, most importantly, listed baseball cards in the Craigslist ad.
The address sounded vaguely familiar when she mentioned it, but I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't until we turned down an open alley that it hit me.
I've been here before.
It was the same guy that hosted a rather remarkable garage sale about a year ago. Astounding as it might seem, the guy actually remembered me. I guess the kind of cards I buy make an impression with people.
Because I went in November, the big, heaping boxes of singles the guy had on display last year were all football. There were more huge bins scattered around his garage this time, although I told myself not to get my hopes up. A quick peek through one of them, however, instantly put a smile on my face.
I knew what to do from there.
The guy had a good five or six 3200-count boxes spread around the side of his garage. A couple, yes, were football and basketball, but most of them were baseball. I spent a good half-hour digging through the goods.
One thing that grabbed me was the amount of newer brands he had available. Relatively recent sets like Panini Cooperstown are something you'd find at a huge card show, not in some guy's garage.
There aren't many shots of Jackie Robinson as a Kansas City Monarch, so the card at the top of the post was a special find for me.
The spiffy wood-finished insert of "The Peerless Leader", Frank Chance, was another indication that this garage sale would be something special.
We got to talking about the hobby after a while.
As fantastic as the blogs are, it felt great to have an actual, in-person conversation with a fellow collector. That's not something I get the chance to do too often, unfortunately.
Although he told me tales of busting high-end cases of sets like Immaculate and Tribute and other holy names (he had a Clayton Kershaw autograph for sale in the glass case next to the 3200-count boxes), he's a perfectly nice guy.
I learned long ago that just because someone chases after more high-dollar cardboard doesn't automatically make him or her a snob. I have my dime boxes, these people have their Mike Trout autographs.
That said, I was a little hurt by the news of Panini making Cooperstown into an uber-high end brand for 2014. (I can't find a link to the story, but I remember reading about it a couple weeks ago.)
Looks like no more fun Colgan's Chips inserts for me.
Ah, but the madness didn't stop at 2013.
The guy had quite a selection of 2014 brands as well, something I can't say I've ever seen the likes of at a garage sale.
There wasn't a ton of A&G, but I did manage to land a few to my liking. I didn't even realize this Eck was a short-print until I got home later that afternoon.
A sweet find made even sweeter.
This was the only mini I found in the guy's boxes, but it was a doozy.
Granted, the horizontal A&G issues don't exactly translate well into mini form. But this is still a nice little card of young hotshot Jose Fernandez, a guy who I'm sure has a couple Cy Youngs in his future.
And I found it at a garage sale.
I still can't believe it.
No, I haven't come around on the Prizm brand.
I never will.
If they're cheap enough, though, I can't turn down hits to my wide array of player collections. Even if they do come from one of the worst sets in recent memory.
The guy claimed that 2014 Panini Prizm was, and I quote, "a beautiful set" during our conversation. He, like so many other collectors, is disappointed that Panini isn't licensed by MLB, claiming that Prizm would look even better with logos.
Me, I'm not so sure.
I doubt I'd like Prizm much either way.
Same goes for Donruss.
Admittedly, I am starting to come around a tad on these. Not much, but a little. Enough to actually want to say good things about the product.
Donruss made up the bulk of my purchases from the guy's boxes, comprising about a third of what I bought. I'm guessing the guy opened a few boxes (or, dare I say, a case) of the stuff at some point.
They were mostly Series 1, although there were a few Series 2 singles sprinkled in for good measure. I actually had the Grady Sizemore in my Just Commons cart, seeing as how I doubt there'll be many cards commemorating his short time in Boston this year.
I can't pass that up.
There were cards almost literally strewn around the sides of the guy's garage.
Cards in penny sleeves, cards in toploaders, cards with no protection whatsoever, and not to mention random stacks of whatever sitting atop the 3200-count boxes on display. One of those random stacks, as I found, contained nothing but 2014 Archives.
I still need quite a few of the base cards from the brand, but the inserts were what really caught my fancy.
This Goldschmidt features a '70s Topps hockey design on a baseball card, something I find to be an oddly pleasing combo.
These pay homage to the Glossy All-Star series Topps released throughout the '80s.
Archives put its own personal touch on the idea by including guys from older generations. It's fun to see someone like Sandy Koufax on a design that I so closely associate with the 1980's.
The Nettles was the first part...
...of the Nettles-mania I encountered while digging through the guy's cards.
Archives included Mr. Nettles in quite a few of its insert sets this year, something I noticed the very first time I first started flipping through the checklist back in May.
I'm happy about that, considering I can't remember the last time we've seen anything of Graig Nettles. The cardboard industry has barely made a peep about John Olerud since his retirement, so it was awesome to see him included in this fun Deckle Edge series as well.
The world needs more Oleruds.
This guy's selection knocked out about two-thirds of my Archives base needs.
It also added a new mini-collection hit to my binders with that Zimmerman throwback.
I honestly forgot that Archives even had SPs while I was digging.
Like the A&G Eck, only later did I find out that I'd unwittingly unearthed some coveted short-prints with this trio.
Because most of his cards were grouped by set, the guy didn't have a whole lot of random for random's sake.
These two Dodgers, however, didn't fit in with much else on display. The Nomo was the only '90s card I found, and I've actually been on the hunt for that unlicensed Thome since Signature Stars hit the shelves in 2009.
It's a prime addition to the squad's "Short Term Stops" roster.
One of the other boxes included a selection of obscure late-2000's releases that I never much cared about in the first place.
Think SP Authentic, SPx, pretty much anything with an "X" in the title.
I was instantly interested by the section marked "2006 Topps Update". I opened a lot of packs from this set from my local Target back in the day. Because my collecting methods were a bit different then, however, I probably traded away a lot of cards I'd keep nowadays.
I can't be sure, but I think I had that obnoxiously alliterative Highlights card of the "Big Hurt" at one point. For me, the big highlight of the Updates was that Carlos Pena gold parallel. The guy played all of 18 games with the '06 Red Sox, yet still received a card in the checklist that year.
It's the only card I've ever seen of him with the Sawx, which makes it an instant favorite.
Right next to the '06 Updates came the biggest development of that obscure box.
A budding stack of 2002 Stadium Club.
Regular readers of this blog probably know how big of a Stadium Club nut I am by now. I could collect for the rest of my life and still not discover all the hidden gems the brand has to offer.
Their early 2000-ish releases seem fairly hard to find, which made stumbling upon this stack even sweeter.
This beautiful celebration shot of Brian Giles with the serene PNC Park backdrop spoke to me.
Love at first sight.
The masterpieces just kept on coming.
Double dips. At the wall shots. Plays at the plate.
Even a card of good ol' "Operation Shutdown" himself, Derek Bell.
This one may have been the best of the lot.
Busted bat, no batting gloves, ball inches away from the point of contact. Oh, and all that in horizontal form, by the way.
Everything I've already shown cemented this garage sale as an unquestioned success.
Luckily for me, the garage sale gods still had a few surprises in store.
Yes, what you see here is indeed a '75 Topps MMMMMMMIIIIIIINNNNNIIIIIIII of none other than Mr. Bob Gibson. The last appearance he'd ever make in a Topps checklist.
I saw this one scattered amongst the guy's miscellany sitting on top of a smaller box of football cards. It was priced at five bucks, but I figured I'd at least see what kind of deal the guy was willing to give me (if any) before I made the final decision.
This is a good time to note that all of the singles I'd previously picked out were unpriced. I flirted with floating into semi-uncharted territory, but something about the guy's good nature made me feel like I'd get the insider's deal.
And I did.
After all was said and done, I had about 150 cards in my hands. The guy charged me a grand total of ten bucks for the lot. Yes, that's including the Gibson mini. That, and everything else, for under a dime a pop.
As I went to fish a ten out of my wallet, my eyes started to wander to a few other things I'd missed the first time around.
I don't know how, but I noticed this Jake Taylor "Major League" insert buried under a stack of other penny sleeved cards on top of a random 3200-count box.
He had it priced at four bucks, but accepted the two-dollar offer I made. The guy commended me on my good eye, noting how much of a fan he was of the "Major League" series. Only Eddie Harris stands in the way of my set now.
It was at that moment that I remembered something I'd seen right after I stepped foot in the guy's garage.
I initially let this beautiful '62 Topps Luis Aparicio slide because of the fifteen-dollar price tag.
I couldn't afford it. After a short deal of consideration, however, I figured I could at least ask what the best price he could give me was. Especially considering the deal he gave me on everything else. The answer made my eyes light up.
Aside from the miscut at the bottom, this gem is in absolutely pristine shape. A far cry from most of the vintage I usually buy. No corner wear. No creases. No nothing.
For five bucks, you can't go wrong.
Between the array of recent singles, the Taylor, and the "Looie", I spent a grand total of seventeen bucks at this garage sale. A small price to pay for such beauty.
I don't know what I did in a past life to be so lucky. Even I'm shocked at my tendency to find cardboard gold in such unexpected places sometimes. All I can do is thank the almighty garage sale gods for their bounty.
Maybe I should offer up some '89 Fleers in tribute.