A couple weeks ago, I announced the four cards I'd specifically be looking for at the National.
As it turns out, reader extraordinare Mark Hoyle offered to send me a spare '75 Topps Yaz (which arrived the day before the show), so that was one off the list before I even hit the convention hall. That left a '65 Topps Luis Tiant rookie, a '68 Topps Roger Maris sunset card, and a '77 Topps Johnny Bench as The Elusive Three.
I'm a random kind of guy, but, admittedly, it is fun to search for specific cards at a show, and doing so at the National was like a glorified game of needle in the haystack. In reality, I would've been happy to pick up two of the three.
Ironically, the one I wasn't really expecting to find at a decent price was the first one to turn up, and it presented itself at the very first table of the day. The vendor had a glass case of higher-priced cardboard on display, and imagine my surprise when I saw a '68 Topps Maris in there.
He had it priced at $11, but gave it to me for nine dollars. Because of the size of the National, I had a rule in my head to not spend more than five bucks on any single card, if I could help it.
Yeah...that went out the window after table #1.
A short while later, my dad wandered off to grab a bite to eat as Brian and I were indulging in our dime box dig.
Surprisingly, Dad came back with two cards he decided to buy as he was making his way to the concession stand. I'll show the second one in a bit, but the first was this "updated" '57 Topps Richie Ashburn for three dollars, a card that'd been near the top of my want lists for a while.
My dad said he wasn't sure if I even needed it or not, but figured he'd take a shot in the dark.
Needless to say, I'm glad he did, because I'm extremely fond of both '57 Topps and Mr. Ashburn.
Not long after that, Brian took me over to visit a vendor who is apparently from around his backyard in Minnesota.
The guy had a lot of different stacks and boxes at his table, and I didn't get a chance to look through it all. Perhaps the main attraction was a big bin filled with miscellaneously-priced cardboard, and, while a decent amount of them were a tad higher than I wanted to pay, I did manage to secure a few that fit happily within my budget.
This '65 Topps Mudcat Grant high-number became mine for a buck. The vendor said it was actually supposed to be priced at two dollars, but he let me have it for a single Washington due to his error.
I'll take it.
This was the other big find from the discount bin.
I love these paneled action shots from '62 Topps, and they're actually quite a bit cheaper than the regular Flagship cards of said players. Stan Musial's standard card from '62 can run you north of at least twenty or thirty bucks, but I forked over a mere four dollars for this one.
A small price to pay for Stan the Man.
Though they priced their cards separately, another vendor had tables adjoined with Brian's guy at the National.
He had a 90% off vintage bin off to the side (the listed price being the book value, I assume), and, though my dad and I picked through the entire thing, we only found one card to our liking.
But what a card it was...a 1955 Bowman Bobby Thomson. Thomson is another one of those Discount Vintage MVPs among the likes of Roy Face that I mentioned in yesterday's post. Despite his name being pretty well-known, Thomson's cards don't run much.
This one was a mere $1.50.
You know, a funny thing happened while I was chasing The Elusive Three.
I ran into a whole bunch of Kellogg's cards. These 3-D beauties are always high on my wish list at any card show, and I'm still floored at the amount I continually find at affordable prices.
Like his other vendor buddy, the vendor with the '55 Bobby Thomson had a big bin of scattered miscellany on display. This '70 Kellogg's Rico Petrocelli didn't have a price tag on it, so I asked the guy to quote me a price.
A quarter, he said.
I'll take it, I said.
The Sutton, Bench, and Yaz Kellogg's cards also fell out of that big bin, scores at just a dollar each.
The '72 Billy Williams was actually one of my final purchases of the day, setting me back three bucks.
Little did I know that the 3-D train was just getting started.
The Rose was the other card my dad purchased with the aforementioned '57 Ashburn, priced at a modest two bucks.
Reggie was a paltry quarter, and he came from what turned out to be one of the best overall purchases of the day.
The guy with the '55 Thomson also had a few long boxes hovering near the edge of his table when I first arrived.
I could see from afar that the cards were curved, and I wondered if they could be Kellogg's. A whole box of Kellogg's. Nah. Couldn't be...but it was. One box, all Kellogg's. And, better yet, they were just a quarter a pop.
Let the games begin.
Most of the ones he had were from the '80s, and, seeing how those are some of my favorite Kellogg's cards, that suited me just fine.
I'm particularly partial to the yellow borders of '81, well, that and the fact that they fit perfectly into nine-pocket pages. These were all big finds for me, but my favorite of the lot was easily the Charboneau at the center, a card I'd been coveting for a while.
Go, Go, Joe Charboneau!
Don't sleep on the '82s, though, because these are definitely beauties on their own merit.
I should mention, for whatever reason, that there was a guy using some kind of magnifying glass at this table, scrupulously inspecting each and every Kellogg's card (priced at just a quarter each, remember) for cracks (I imagine) as I was itching to get at the ones he was tossing aside in his discard pile.
A little part of me died inside when I saw that, sadly.
The Kellogg's trek came to a close with the '83s.
After finding a couple Angels for a quarter per...
...The Bull capped off the day's 3-D journey.
All in all, I think I secured around ten bucks' worth of quarter Kellogg's from the guy's table, as well as the others I found strewn around the rest of the National's halls.
Wait, what was I talking about? Ah, that's right. The Elusive Three. Those Kellogg's things can sure be a happy distraction.
But not to worry...
...because I didn't let my mind stray too far away from The Elusive Three.
I found another suspect of the trio lying in that big bin that netted me the Kellogg's Petrocelli and a few others. At two dollars, the price was more than fair, and I officially purchased the long-awaited '77 Topps Johnny Bench a few minutes later.
Two down, one to go.
At that point, the National turned into a 1965 Topps Luis Tiant manhunt.
My dad can attest to the fact that, for a short while, I was obsessed with tracking down the last member of The Elusive Three. I knew it had to be somewhere in those halls, and, doggone it, I was going to find it.
And then, not long after I found the '77 Bench, we came to a table with a few different boxes of discount vintage on display. One of the boxes was all dollar cards, and that's where I found these two.
Aside from his '64 multi-player rookie, I'm proud to say that I now have every single Topps card of Tony C from his playing career.
One of the other boxes contained individually-priced cards, ranging from anywhere from about five to eighty dollars.
Another of my hopes for the National was to pick up at least one pre-1952 baseball card, and, for six dollars, this '51 Bowman Preacher Roe crossed that goal off the list with flying colors. I'm not sure why, but I have long had a fascination with Preacher Roe, which is why this was a no-brainer buy.
It's probably because of the name.
Still, if it's possible to overshadow a '51 Bowman Preacher Roe, this card did it.
Just a short while later, Scooter here emerged from that individually-priced bin, and I knew at that moment that a dream was about to be fulfilled. Somehow, I had yet to track down a '51 Topps Red/Blue back before last Saturday.
I'd seen others in the past, but I'd barely (or never) heard of a lot of the cheap ones I came across, and the bigger names were just a bit out of my price range. The stars finally aligned at the National, and I gladly handed over ten bucks for this beautiful Rizzuto red back.
It was the most expensive purchase I'd make at the show, but well worth it.
And yet there was still one final unresolved matter. The '65 Topps Tiant. The last of The Elusive Three.
I searched and searched and searched...
...until I finally found it.
One vendor earlier on in the show had one priced at ten dollars, but, tempting as it was, I passed, figuring I'd be able to find it cheaper. Funny enough, the vendor with the Roe and Rizzuto actually had three different copies of the '65 Tiant rookie in his discount boxes.
One was in the miscellaneous bin for six dollars. I added it to my purchase pile.
One was in a three-dollar bin. I took out the six-dollar Tiant and replaced it with the three-dollar Tiant.
The one I eventually purchased was in a two-dollar bin. I took out the three-dollar Tiant and replaced it with the two-dollar Tiant.
The last of The Elusive Three was captured, and, thus, my day at the National was complete.
I was a little shocked to find out after the fact that I'd managed to fulfill each and every goal I set for myself at the 2015 National.
The Elusive Three, the Stadium Clubs, the 20-dollar table limit...all of them. The National was everything I hoped it'd be, and then some. And I even got to meet a few fellow bloggers in the process of my six-hour trek through the vast aisles of cardboard.
All in all, it was the kind of day you dream of, and, as usual, I'm glad I got to spend it with my dad. He snapped another in-action photo of me in discount vintage mode, and I even set aside my hatred for the "dreaded selfie" (as my dad calls it) to pose for a picture with him.
Once again, I thank Dad for spending the day with me and scraping together whatever he could to help out with my card show budget, although the sheer company he provided was more than enough.
I said it before, and I'll say it again.
There is nothing quite like a day at the National, and I was honored to attend in 2015.