Friday, October 2, 2015
A day off at the flea market, Pt. 2
This box is ten for a buck.
These are the words I heard when I approached a familiar table at my local flea market this past Sunday, and they came from a vendor who I've bought from each of the three times I've attended this year.
He looks to have cemented himself as a new "regular" card guy at these gatherings...and I think I've cemented myself as a "regular" customer, because it's gotten to the point where he knows my face and gives me a nice Hey, buddy, how are ya? greeting when I walk up to his table.
I've gotten some good deals from him in the past, but his discount boxes usually topped out at four or five-for-a-buck. He's never had a dime box before, and, as you'll see throughout the course of this post, I'd never found anything near the quality of what I purchased from him on Sunday.
As a young Bobby Murcer can attest, I felt very much like a kid in a candy store.
I'll warn you now: this post will feature many, many more pictures than I usually show in a single write-up.
This is for two reasons. 1) I want to convey just how substantial these discount boxes turned out to be. 2) I couldn't bring myself to not show off any of these cards.
The Herman and Bauer you see above are fantastic in their own right...
...but, to my utter surprise, this guy's dime box was about 90 percent vintage.
The majority of them were no-name '70s commons, but, then again, even no-name '70s commons are a treat to dig through. Boxes like this one are a great reminder of all the early '70s greatness I have yet to uncover.
That's especially true with '73 Topps, of course.
I didn't pay much attention to these World Series highlight cards when I was younger, and only now am I realizing how big of a mistake that was.
None other than Reggie Jackson himself is front-and-center on this beautiful shot from the '73 Fall Classic.
I don't go out of my way to track down Senators cards, but, at a dime per, I'll load up on as many as I can.
The Hinton takes its place as one of the oldest cards I've ever scored for an FDR, and those red Senators duds seem to especially pop on the '71 design.
It was at this point that I began to realize that this dime box was going to be something special.
I found this quartet of '72 In-Action cards clumped together in the same stack of cards. Two fabulous behind-the-plate action shots, and two dust-filled double dips.
You don't see vintage of this quality in dime boxes very often.
Here's where things started to border on the absurd.
I picked up Jim Kaat's regular '72 Topps issue in a card show dollar bin not too long ago, and, seeing as how it was a dreaded uber-high number in the set, I thought that was one of the greatest deals ever. Little did I know I'd pick up the In-Action variant from the same set at a tenth of that price. (Kaat's two cards are #s 709-710.)
You don't find high-numbers like these very often anywhere, and I know I've never seen any in a dime box before.
But the magic wasn't even close to being over yet.
I found a good amount of these 1983 ASA oddballs sprinkled throughout the guy's dime box on Sunday. ASA was the umbrella brand for a bunch of smaller 12-card, single-player sets that were featured on this design.
This one, for instance, was the only single I found from the Duke Snider set.
These two are part of the 12-card Willie Mays set, and what a couple of cards they are.
A Stan the Man cameo and a rare shot of the "Say Hey Kid" as a Met...not bad for twenty cents.
Joltin' Joe also received a set of his own from the people at ASA.
I didn't know single cards could withstand such star power.
A couple more from the Yankee Clipper, including a shot of him with brother Dom as San Francisco Seal teammates.
Guess Vince DiMaggio got the shaft on that one.
Rub your eyes if you want, but, yes, that's Joe DiMaggio in an Oakland A's jersey.
It doesn't get talked about much now, but Joltin' Joe enjoyed a brief stint as a coach/vice president with the A's in the late '60s.
This is the first card I've seen of him in the uniform, and I think the sheer oddness of the sight is about to make my brain explode.
All in all, I found more Juan Marichal ASAs than any other single player.
These two horizontals have some pretty impressive cameos, if I do say so myself.
Here's another batch from the Dominican Dandy.
The card in the bottom-right particularly intrigued me, as it features Marichal shaking hands with Walter Alston after his brief two-game stint as a Dodger in 1975. It's the closest I've ever seen to a Dodger card of Juan Marichal, and, for that, I was excited.
Still, I couldn't help but think how cool it would've been to find a card of him actually wearing a Dodger uniform. Oh, well.
I had gone my entire collecting life assuming that no card was ever produced of Juan Marichal as a Dodger, and I thought I was pretty safe in that assumption given how short his tenure in Los Angeles was.
But, now, with my own two eyes, I am seeing a card of Juan Marichal as a Dodger. I own it. It will go in my Dodger binder. A card of Juan Marichal will go in my Dodger binder. A card of Juan Marichal will go in my Dodger binder.
It sounds so wrong, yet so right.
And that was just the dime box.
The guy had a 3/$1 bin off to the side as well, though the cards in it only filled about half of a single row in an 800-count box. But I'll be darned if he didn't make those count.
A lot of what was in there seemed to be held in shrinkwrap.
That's because almost all of what I found in there was comprised of smaller, never-before-opened oddball sets.
These Griffeys aren't particularly exciting, and they're not very well-designed. But, heck, at 3/$1, I didn't have to think twice about tossing them into my purchase pile.
Oh, and that's 3/$1 on the whole set, which means that each individual card here cost about three cents per.
Yep, each of these Front Row sets came from the 3/$1 bin as well, which amounts to about seven cents a pop for each individual card.
I bought a couple of these for a buck a piece during one of my earlier trips to the flea market this year, but I guess these were the ones the guy couldn't unload at that price.
Once they got downgraded to the 3/$1 box, the rest was history.
These were also in the 3/$1 archives, though I'm not quite sure what set them apart from the DiMaggios and Mayses I found in the dime box.
But, hey, 33 cents each is still a heck of a deal, I think.
The final feature of this guy's table was a glass case with specially-marked cards off to the side, and the ASA train wasn't quite at the station yet.
For a buck a piece, I scored not one...
...but two cards from the Willie Mays set with Roberto Clemente cameos.
And let's not ignore the appearance of Hammerin' Hank here, either.
I admit, I'm usually a little intimidated by glass cases.
They always seem to house cards I could never dream of owning in a million years. But, in a nutshell, I guess that's one of things I enjoy about the flea market. Even the "glass case" cards are attainable.
The '69 Brock was three bucks, and the Killebrew was five. Both fit well within the day's budget, and, as an added bonus, I now own each of Killer's final eight Topps cards (1968-75).
Before Sunday, only his semi-high number '71 Topps issue (#550) had stood in the way.
Now we're getting into the Pinch me, I'm dreaming moments from the glass case chronicles.
I don't know how to describe my reaction when I saw this '58 Musial All-Star with a two-dollar price tag on it, and I really don't know how to describe my reaction when the guy cut that price in half.
The sentence I'm about to type may seem like a lie, but it's the absolute truth: I purchased a 1958 Topps Stan Musial for a dollar.
Cross my heart, hope to die.
Right about now, I was ready to total up my purchases.
I had around twenty-five bucks' worth of cards in my stack (including a lot more I didn't show here), but the guy only quoted me twenty for the lot. At this point, I figured I was playing with a few extra dollars in house money, and my eyes fell to this 1967 Topps Tony Perez in the glass case.
It was love at first sight. This is one of the most elegant cards from the '67 checklist (dig the name-under-number jersey vests), and one of the better cards I've seen from the 1960s as a whole, for that matter.
Trouble is, it's a semi-high number and a short-print, which means its not a card you find up for grabs very often. I'd never seen a copy in the flesh until Sunday. It had a ten-dollar price tag on it. I asked the guy if he'd take five, and, to my pleasant surprise, he accepted. I handed the vendor twenty-five dollars and thanked him for the flea market dig of a lifetime.
Another glass case card caught my eye as I was walking away, but I figured I'd leave it behind for another day.
But then I got to thinking about it more and more...
...and, a short while later, I came back for Mr. Kaline.
This one was also priced at ten dollars, and, like the Perez, the guy took five on it. It's another high-number toughie from the early '70s (#600), and, though I'm no stickler for condition, I couldn't help but notice the immaculate shape this particular copy was in.
Before Sunday, this was one of those long-wanted cards that I'm sure most collectors have. One of the need-to-have-it-but-can-never-find-one-for-the-right-price cards.
Five dollars, my friends, is the right price for me.
You'd be hard-pressed to come away from an entire card show with a haul as great as this one, and I found all these from a single table at my local flea market. It's true.
There goes the flea market blowing my mind all over again.