Monday, December 14, 2015
Card show in the snow, Pt. 1: Blessing in disguise
A few weeks ago, I was able to get a Saturday off work to hit the big tri-annual card show in the area.
The gathering was held at the same convention hall that housed the National earlier this year, and, as usual, I was chomping at the bit in preparation for the ever-special Card Show Day.
Trouble was, a freak snowstorm decided to hit the night before, a snowstorm that plowed right into the following afternoon (here's a first-hand view of it). But would a little snow cancel Card Show Day? Heck, no! My dad and I trudged on, although I came mighty close to falling on my behind a couple times during my trek through the unshoveled sidewalks.
But no matter. Walking into the doors of the convention hall made it all worth it. Not surprisingly, the show was far emptier than the others I've attended in the past, and there seemed to be quite a few less vendors as well. It felt deserted, a lot like I imagine Bernie Williams must've felt on this odd-yet-fantastic Pinnacle Zenith card.
There's usually elbow-to-elbow traffic around the discount bins at this show, but I didn't have to fight for a spot at many tables this time.
I'm not at my greatest in large crowds, so maybe this snowstorm was a blessing in disguise.
I guess my only complaint about this show was that, overall, the quality of the vendors in attendance took a slight dip.
I'd rarely seen sellers with grossly overpriced items in the past, but they were there by the boatload this time. I saw several guys trying to hock overproduction-era cards for double-digit prices. (Think 1987 Donruss Greg Maddux rookies at fifteen bucks a pop.)
The dime boxes took a dive as well. I think I only saw one or two all day. But the bright side was that I actually found two different guys with nickel boxes...in the same aisle, no less. A lot of what I'll be showing in the posts to come came from those vendors, because, in terms of quantity, over half of the cards I ended up buying all day came from those boxes (about 450 of the 800-plus cards in total).
Quality speaking, all the hallmarks of a solid Card Show Day were there despite the dip in attendance.
Like always, I managed to add a handful of new Vlads and Ichiros to my binders.
And, as usual, I managed to bulk up my mini-collections by a good bit.
This Ripken came from the only quarter box I dug through all day, but it was a small price to pay for the guy who probably has the most "tip of the cap" shots of anyone I collect.
He's a well-respected man.
The Rice -- a nickel box suspect -- had been on my watch list for a while because of the wand-like broken bat in his hands.
I'm a little surprised I didn't already own the Ruffing. You just don't see many shots of pre-WWII pitchers hitting on baseball cards too often.
Fun fact: even with over 2,000 plate appearances, Ruffing was a .269 career hitter.
Here's a smattering of horizontal mini-collection hits, mostly of the nickel box variety.
I'm especially fond of the ghostly multiple-exposure effect on that Big Unit card.
Other than perhaps pitchers at the plate, I get the biggest kick out of digging up new throwbacks for my archives.
I love the variety with this quartet: 1920s White Sox duds, old Washington Senators garb (in sparkly form), groovy '70s Astros jerseys, and even a tribute to the Negro League's Milwaukee Bears.
Here's hoping the throwback fad never dies.
Player collections and mini-collections aside, there was still a good amount of randoms to go around at the snow-soaked show.
This shot of Brian Giles makes my hamstrings hurt just looking at it, but I can't help but notice how perfectly the image works with the arched Ultra Gold Medallion design.
Although I'd rather a have guy's crotch not be the focal point of the image.
I like to think of these as fitting into my Watch Out, Ladies theme.
Card companies will go through a lot to make their subjects look good. Don Mattingly (on what is technically a football card, I think) wears leather jackets and sits awkwardly on benches in front of red backdrops. And Scott Rolen juggles.
Like I said: watch out, ladies.
I get a kick out of seeing big leaguers in non-big league uniforms.
I don't often go out of my way to acquire collegiate cards, but there's still something special about seeing a pre-fame Dustin Pedroia as an Arizona State Sun Devil.
The card on the left features a far more hallowed type of uniform. That's my first card of Roy Gleason, a man who retired with a 1.000 career batting average (1-for-1) after becoming the only major leaguer injured in Vietnam. He was later awarded a Purple Heart for his service.
And why aren't there more baseball cards of Roy Gleason again?
My dad wandered away for a while during the course of the show and came back with a baggie of unopened packs.
He told me that a guy a few aisles down had a few giant tubs of wax and was telling people they could fill bags for five bucks a pop. I passed by that table a little while later, but decided not to dig through the unopened packs because I figured the five bucks' worth my dad had picked out would be enough.
After taking a closer look at what my dad found after we left the convention hall, I kind of wished I'd made a second trip to that table.
Stadium Club, mid '90s Topps, and even a few neat '90s sample packs were just a bit of what my dad came away with.
Dad even rounded up a couple neat oddball scores with these Ryne Sandberg/Ken Griffey Jr.-exclusive sets.
They come from a company called Barry Colla Photography, and each little boxed set contained twelve different cards of Ryno and Griffey.
Unlike most one-player checklists out there, the photos in this one are actually pretty solid.
But, as they've done before, the pack of Pro Set Music Cards stole the show.
Musically-speaking, I'm not a fan of most of the musicians in this set, but I still get a big kick out of the cards. And, yes, two Vanilla Ices in the same pack, for some reason.
(Also, pssst, the Go-Go's are one of those guilty pleasure bands that I don't often admit I like.)
But let's get back to baseball with a pair of '70s icons.
I can't believe I still need cards from the legendary 2001 UD Decade checklist, but the Bench is living proof that I do.
And, overall, I'd say any card show that allows me to add a new Oscar Gamble to my collection is a good card show.
This show wasn't as heavy with the oddballs as past gatherings, but I still managed to unearth a couple gems with these two.
I can't explain why, but I get filled with wild excitement every time I find box bottoms.
Here's a couple from 2003 Topps Gallery HOF, which I still believe is one of the most beautiful sets ever designed.
Only after scanning that Brooks Robinson did I notice that he's actually holding a Gold Glove award, which makes it a treasured mini-collection hit.
That's in addition to simply being an elegant piece of cardboard, of course.
It isn't a card show without a little dose of shiny.
I now own about three or four different reprints of Wade Boggs's Topps rookie card without having yet secured the real thing.
I need to change that fast.
And, finally, we come to the only modern card I paid more than a quarter for at this snow-covered show.
Mr. Clemente here cost me a whole buck. I usually balk at paying that price for anything that isn't vintage, but I didn't even have to think twice about this one. It's Topps Tribute, it's shiny, and it's Roberto Clemente.
Perhaps the better question is how did this only cost me a dollar.
While I still have a couple parts of this card show recap to go, I think it's obvious from this post alone that what I ended up finding throughout the course of the day made the trek through the snow worth it.
It takes a lot more than that to scare us cardboard fanatics away.