Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Inside the card show, Pt. 1: A march of dimes

As promised, I hit the local tri-annual card show this past Saturday.

Since I hadn't been to a show since March, I was looking for this one to be a big experience. I'd been socking away money since summer vacation in preparation for Saturday.

A good chunk of my funds came from piecing out parts of my game-used/autograph collection on Ebay in hopes of turning them into discount treasures at the card show. That, plus a more than generous grant from good ol' dad, helped turn Saturday into the memorable experience I'd dreamed about.

Oh, and before we get to the cards, I thought I'd mention that I did actually remember to snap some photos of my day at the card show. You'll be seeing them dispersed here and there throughout my upcoming series of posts.

What you see above is an action shot of yours truly on the dime box prowl. This particular table came about halfway through the show and had mounds and mounds of 2014 singles to sift through. It took a while, which is why I chose to take advantage of the chair the vendors put out.

As far as dime boxes go, however, the very first aisle stole the show on Saturday.


Because I bought a whole dime box.

This isn't usual for me. A lot of the fun of dime boxes for me comes from digging through the stacks and stacks of cardboard, waiting for those couple finds that make it all worth it. Buying a whole dime box takes the mystique out of the dime box process.

But, to put it simply, the guy made me an offer I couldn't refuse. And, more importantly, it involved the best of both dime box worlds.

The vendor had two of these double-rowed boxes of baseball at his table. I'd already dug through most of them and had a stack of around 120 cards ready to go when the guy came up to me.

It was obvious he wanted to clear inventory. That's the goal for most dime box vendors. So, in order to do so, he offered me one of the dime boxes for twelve bucks or both for twenty. I didn't want to carry both of them all day, so I just grabbed the one. 

Better yet, the guy let me put the cards I'd already chosen into the box I bought. I got my 120-ish carefully selected pieces plus a generous helping of other extras (a lot of which ended up making for good trade fodder) for a mere twelve bucks.

How can you go wrong?

Because the vendor seemed so eager to unload it, you'd think a box like this would be mostly overproduction era cardboard and other undesirables.

Au contraire, my friends. The vast majority of it was filled with post-2000 cards. Sure, there was a good helping of mind-numbingly boring sets like SP Authentic and UD Icons, but the gems I unearthed made digging through everything else worth it.

Fun cards like this McGwire are what dime boxes are all about.

Finding new mini-collection hits is a constant source of dime box joy for me, and this box was absolutely rife with them.

I'm especially fond of the Kirk Gibson in the bottom-left, a card that was sitting in my Just Commons cart prior to Saturday.

It's not often you see a throwback jersey in a set devoted to past legends.

Really the only overproduction-era cardboard I found in the dime box was a small stack of 1992 Donruss.

Even those managed to pack quite a punch. I found a good half-dozen double dips within a span of about 30 cards.

I swear, this set grows on me more and more with each passing day.

This was one of the next cards in line for my "Dime Box Dozen" list before Saturday.

I've always been partial to any type of milestone depicted on cardboard. Press conferences are an added bonus since they slot in under my "interviews" mini-collection theme.

I'm rather fond of the three baseballs spelling out "300" in front of Mr. Glavine as well.

I actually missed these two during my initial dig.

Only after buying the entire box did I discover what I'd passed up. I came this close to leaving them behind forever.

Even the trained dime box eye can overlook a few gems now and then.

What's a dime box without a little cardboard fun?

I doubt you'll find many cards with more interesting backgrounds than these two. Let's hope that Jorge Nunez didn't drown after that photo session.

Something about the shrubbery behind Ordonez reminds me of a high school pathway.

Also known as the hidden spot behind the bushes where everyone would sneak away after class and smoke weed.

Vlad is one of the most common suspects when it comes to dime boxes.

He was actually there signing at Saturday's show, but the fee was a bit high for me. I'm pretty much priced out of the autograph market.

In contrast, I can't remember the last time I found a new Craig Counsell card at a show.

OPC gets bonus points for featuring that wacky batting stance of his.

We'll close my twelve-dollar dime box with this work of art.

Like the Glavine, this one had been sitting on my future "Dime Box Dozen" list for a long time. I assumed it'd pop up in a dime box eventually. Until Saturday, though, I'd always come up short.

Has a more beautiful stadium shot ever been featured on a baseball card?

I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a better one.

I guess it was something about that first aisle.

A few tables before my grand dime box purchase, I stumbled upon a 5/$1 bin with rows and rows of 2014 issues. I didn't spend a whole lot of time at the table, but I did come up with a stack of about 30 cards that I felt were worth a whole twenty cents a piece. (GASP!)

The Taveras is a new addition to my tribute collection of the late Cardinals prospect. Although I collect Chris Sale, the throwback was what convinced me to drop twenty cents on his 2014 Finest issue.

I can't be throwing around two shiny FDRs all willy-nilly now, can I?

And now for something completely different, let's take a look at cards of Keith Richards and Sigmund Freud.

I've posted about the Concert Cards series before, but I don't know what the hell kind of outfit Keith is wearing there.

One of my card show pet peeves is when vendors don't bother to organize their dime boxes by sport.

I came across one such table on Saturday. The people had about six big dime bins on display, which got me excited at first. A closer look, however, revealed that every single one was interwoven with football, basketball, and baseball. Baseball was easily the least represented of the three, by the way.

Every sport should have their own individual box. Is that too much to ask, or am I crazy?

I normally wouldn't have bothered at a table like this, but finding this quartet of awesomely awful Bo Jackson customs convinced me to stick it out.

I think I ended up with about 20 cards after all was said and done, but these four were the most memorable.

Another pet peeve?

People that sit themselves in front of discount boxes without even the slightest regard for other shoppers. I always shift to the side and make room if I see someone approaching. It's just proper etiquette, people.

I don't know how they did it, two guys managed to take up almost that entire row of dime boxes you see in the picture of me at the top of this post. I tried inching my way in between them, but I got the feeling they weren't going to let me squeeze through anytime soon.

I paid for what I'd already found from the box at the only open spot at the very edge of the table (more on that tomorrow) and went on my merry way. I circled around for a bit and returned, happy to see that the pair of dime box parkers were gone.

I finally got my hands on what I'd spotted during my first trip to the table. Rows and rows of 2014 Bowman Chrome singles, all for a dime a piece. Probably the most effort I've ever put into voluntarily tracking down anything from Bowman Chrome, I'd say.

It wasn't so much the fronts of the cards I wanted.

It was more about the backs.

I'm all for "proper" stat lines, but reading the same numbers over and over again throughout the course of a card year can get boring. Give me something different, something outside the box.

Thankfully, Bowman Chrome, of all brands, answered my call. Say what you want about sabermetrics, but these are some of the most creative backs I've seen in a while. Spray charts, hot zones, it's all there.

Finally some new stats to absorb.

There's always a guy with oddball-tastic 12/$1 boxes at these shows.

He was back on Saturday, surprising me yet again with the awesome variety of oddities at his table. This Joe Cronin Goudey reprint actually has a bit of a glossy finish.

And, like so much of what I find from these 12/$1 bins, I can't give you the slightest bit of info on it.

Here's just a small portion of the oddities I dug up for about eight cents per.

I'm starting to realize that some of Fleer's oddball designs were better than their standard releases during the '80s.

The story of this guy's table in March was his box of '84 Donruss.

This time, it was his stacks of '85 Fleer. While it may not be the flashiest set around, I've always had a healthy respect for Fleer's 1985 release.

For whatever reason, though, I've had a pretty tough time finding singles from the set. I guess that's why I went a little nuts when I found a whole dime box of the stuff. All told, I probably scored about 60 new '85 Fleers from the guy's table.

I guess all those years of waiting were all leading up to Saturday.

We'll close things out this evening with another 12/$1 find that, for lack of a better term, just makes me happy.

I'd never seen this particular card before Saturday. Not in-person, not on the internet, not anywhere. That's shocking considering how '70s-centric the blogosphere can be.

Although we may not always know why, I'll bet we all have cards that speak to us in our own individual ways. Don't you?

I do.

And I can say with unabashed certainty that Jim Kern's toothy smile speaks to me.

It's cards like these that keep me coming back to the dime boxes with each passing show.


Julie Owens said...

Two weeks ago, I went to my first card show in over ten years. I didn't find any dime boxes. It was quarter box heaven tho! Cards worth anywhere from $5 to $15. Sounds like you got a great price on the box!

John Miller said...

You are the King. I may be fortunate to have year long flea markets, but el zippo when it comes to nearby card shows (real card shows).

P-town Tom said...

Your dime box skills never cease to amaze me. That "Super Bo" is a great find. Very nice!

Mark Hoyle said...

Good deals.... Have a big show yo attend on Black Friday.

Ana Lu said...

The kicking Craig Counsell card is pretty!
The Sale one is awesome!

Great findings.

The Junior Junkie said...

I recently came across a bunch of similarly bizarre Bo Jackson oddballs I'll be featuring on the blog really soon. There are oddballs, and then there are oddballs. Bo had some seriously Odd Balls.

Fuji said...

I can't stand people who forget their card show etiquette at home. It seriously can ruin a person's card show experience. I'm glad it didn't ruin yours. Epic dime box purchase.

Tony L. said...

Most of Jim Kern's cards have him pictured looking like he had slept on the street for the past week. That one may be his only clean-shaven one.

That said, he was always nice to kids when he pitched for Milwaukee in the 1980s. I have a few of his autographs as a result.