Thursday, December 17, 2015
Card show in the snow, Pt. 3: The wasted years
I still agonize over the years I wasted not caring about vintage.
It's not that I didn't like older cards, it's just that, at one point in my life, I valued quantity over quality when it came to card shows. If I happened to run into a few vintage singles in discount boxes, great, but if not, I wasn't about to spend three or four whole dollars on a card when that same amount of money could get me thirty or forty dime cards.
Thankfully, I've since come back to earth, but the fact that I once thought that way still haunts me. I cannot help but wonder how many vintage gems I passed up because I wasn't willing to drop more than a buck or two on single cards.
But the past is the past. All I can do is focus on the present time, a time in which I'm more than willing to go further than loose change and fork over actual paper money for cardboard. This Moose Skowron sunset card was the one card I specifically tried to track down at my latest card show trip, and, at a buck, it wound up being the second-to-last item I bought all day.
Yes, stupid high-school version of Nick, that is better than ten dime cards.
The '68 Billy Williams was the last card I bought at the show, mine for fifty cents.
It came during that weird point in time when I'd gone through every aisle and every table, but didn't quite want to leave just yet. I'm sure most of us know that feeling. Card Show Day can't be over yet, can it?
I scoped out Billy at a table I'd missed the first time around and decided that it was a good way to close out the afternoon. The beautiful '64 Williams fell out of a two-dollar bin earlier in the day.
I like '64 Topps better with each passing day, it seems.
This is a card I've wanted for a while now.
I collect Lew Burdette anyways, but the fact his '56 Topps card (a masterful set in its own right) features a rare shot of a pitcher on the basepaths and a play at the plate made it a must-have for me.
At two bucks, the must-have card finally became mine.
These found a home with me for a dollar a piece, but the more interesting story is why they were priced at a buck each in the first place.
I found each of these six cards in a vendor's glass case about halfway through the show. Every single one was in a toploader that had the word TRIMMED? written on a sticker on the front of it. For whatever reason, I guess the vendor suspected that someone altered these cards at some point.
Hey, trimmed or not, I'll take 'em for a buck.
These were also a buck a pop, and the Brooks nearly became a source of great despair.
I found the Robinson unpriced in a box where every card was supposed to be individually priced. I let the vendor know of my interest in it, and asked him how much it was. Then he let me have those five words...
Let me get my Beckett.
Very rarely does a story involving said words have a happy ending, but this one does. After a couple full minutes of searching through those grayed magazine pages and analyzing the card backwards and front, the guy still let me have it for a dollar.
It all worked out in the end, although that's not usually the case when you involve Beckett in the equation.
Much like the Trout/Puig advertisements I discussed a couple days ago, I grappled with whether to consider checklist cards as actual cards for a long time.
I've come to the conclusion that, yes, those are cards, too. And I'm willing to drop $1.20 on a Roberto Clemente checklist (90% off of its $12 price tag) any day of the week.
The '64 Frank Robinson a four-dollar card, which tied it with...
...the '69 Deckle Edge Clemente as my most expensive purchases of the afternoon.
The inverse of what I discussed at the beginning of this post can be true as well. At times now, I feel like I have to make one big splash at a card show. (Which, with my budget, is basically anything ten bucks or more.)
I didn't do that at this show for the simple reason that I didn't really see anything that warranted splurging. I was more than content to sit back and accumulate $1.20 Pete Roses (again, 90% off of $12) with my card show fund.
Sometimes, the cheapie cards can be the better route.
These were both fifty-centers.
I've discussed the topic of Discount Vintage MVPs on this blog before, and Joe Adcock definitely belongs to that group. The guy was one of the best home-run hitters of his day, but you can find his cardboard for almost nothing now.
Rocky Colavito cards tend to run a bit pricier, so finding him in a fifty-cent bin was a surprise. I'm not big on the '65 Topps Embossed set, but I love this one for the sheer fact that it's only the second card I own of Rocky as a Kansas City A.
It's one of my surefire favorite Short Term Stops stints.
And now for something completely different...
(He was a fifty-center as well.)
The vintage oddballs were out in full force at this show.
The one bummer was that this was the only Hostess single I found all day. I guess that's the baseball card gods' way of playing Even Steven, because I've brought home Hostess cards by the bucketload at the last few shows I've attended.
And, hey, if I'm only going to find one, Jim Palmer isn't a bad one to come away with.
These Post cards are in pretty sad shape.
The upside to that, of course, is that they were quite cheap. The four you see here didn't even cost me five dollars all together. Mr. Cub was $2.50, and I don't think any of the others set me back more than fifty cents or so.
I sometimes like to think of myself as a savior for giving cards like these a home when no one else would.
I keep my eyes peeled for Kellogg's cards at every single show I attend.
I netted about a dozen of them at this most recent gathering, the highlights of which you see here. They cost me anywhere from ten cents (like the Murcer) to a dollar (like the '75 Rollie Fingers).
It hurts me to think that there was also a time in my life when I didn't collect Kellogg's cards...sigh.
I don't think you would've liked me very much if I started this blog when I was in high school.
Now we're starting to get into some serious vintage territory.
These were three of my best finds of the day, and I couldn't believe how well they fit into my budget. Between ink, creases, paper loss, they all obviously have their defects. But when you take into account that they cost me just seven bucks combined (the Feller was three, the DiMaggio/Kiner were two each), I couldn't care less about the condition.
Between these and the Phil Rizzuto I found at the National, I went from owning zero '51 Topps cards to owning four within the span of a few months.
Wait, what's this?
A '72 Topps In-Action Dock Ellis? Great card, yes, but I've owned a copy for years now. Next.
This is what I said to myself as I approached one of the final discount boxes of the day. On the surface, it looked to contain all your run-of-the-mill '70s Topps no-name/minor star singles. I've taken care of most of those I need by now.
That is, until I started flipping some of them over.
That can only mean one thing!
Every single one of these '70s singles are of the OPC variety. This development caught me way, way off-guard because I almost never see any of these anywhere. You could probably count the number of early-to-mid '70s OPCs I owned prior to this show on one hand. You just don't see them.
But there I was digging up thirty of them for a grand sum of five dollars.
But the OPC madness wasn't over just yet.
This same vendor had a two-dollar bin off to the side (the same one that housed the '64 Billy Williams I showed earlier). In there, I found the Canadian version of a card that just missed making my best binder page.
Besides the profile of Ernie Banks on his '65 Topps card, the off-center image of Ted Williams cocking his head back in a hearty chuckle on his '71 Topps issue is probably the one baseball card photo that is most ingrained in my memory. I unearthed my copy of it as a young collector and have cherished it ever since.
Owning the OPC version is a glorious bonus, if for no reason than I get to enjoy the Splendid Splinter's scowling floating head on the back of it.
All things considered, two oversized cards I found at the very first table of the day may have stolen the entire show.
I had no idea what this Bill Lee card was when I found it in a gigantic tub of fifty-cent cards, and I can't come up with much more info on it now. All I could find was an Ebay auction that lists the Spaceman and other fellow Sawx as part of the 1975 Linnett Pee Wee set.
I don't know how or where these were issued, but this is a mighty fine piece of artwork of one of my favorite players in baseball history.
And, at least in my head, one other name goes hand-in-hand with Bill Lee's.
I knew of this card's existence prior to this latest card show, but always chalked it up under the Oh, that's one of those stupidly rare oddballs that I'll never even come close to seeing, much less owning department.
But there I was at ten in the morning at the first table of the card show staring down a small stack of oversized '70s Sportscasters cards behind a glass case. I don't remember who was on the front of the pile, but I had a funny feeling that The Bird might be somewhere in there.
So I asked the vendor if I could see the stack, and, alas, there he was. Mark Fidrych himself, groundskeeping the mound on one knee under the night sky. It was at that point that my eyes instinctively jumped to the price tag in the top-right corner of the giant toploader this card was housed in.
It may have been the best two dollars I ever spent, and you better believe that I'll get more enjoyment out of this than I would out of twenty dime cards.
I love, love, love dime boxes, but to focus on those -- and only those -- at a card show is to ignore the magic of card shows. I got to window shop at tables that featured rows of pre-war cards. I got to salivate over Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle cards that cost more than one of my paychecks. I got to actually own a few sacred pieces of vintage history that are older than my parents. And, perhaps most importantly, I got to do it all with my dad by my side.
That's why Card Show Days are such sacred events in the life of this collector.