Thursday, June 30, 2016
Don't tell my boss, but I went to the flea market
If you're reading this post, do me a favor.
Don't tell my boss I wasn't actually sick last Sunday. I called off work that day and somehow ended up parading through the aisles of my local flea market during the afternoon. If anyone asks, my allergies acted up and I'm really sorry but I couldn't come in that day and I hope it wasn't a problem (that's what I said on the phone, anyways).
The reality is that I did actually have a family event to attend last Sunday, but I'd be lying if I said part of my motivation for calling off didn't involve a much-needed trip to the flea market. You can count the Sundays I've had off since I started working at the bookstore on one hand. Even someone with an admittedly easy minimum-wage job needs a day every now and then.
There hasn't been much in-between with the weather during my flea market runs so far: my first trip featured chilly 50-ish temps, while the heat index hovered around 100 for this one, which caused me to sweat right through the plain white T-shirt I was wearing at the time.
But I can take a little heat if it results in a cardboard payday.
There's a vendor in the first couple aisles who sometimes has cards and sometimes doesn't. I guess the guy's quarter box didn't make the table during my first trip of the year, but they were back for this one. Along with the "at the wall" Moises Alou at the top of the post and a few other pieces of miscellany, I grabbed this page of Iron Man oddballs for a grand total of three bucks.
Some are legitimate oddballs (Milk Bone, Star, Coca-Cola), but the majority are those Broder-like oddities that look and feel like they were created with a Xerox machine in someone's suburban basement.
Once again, my main card guy, Ron, wasn't in attendance, which I'm hoping doesn't become a permanent thing.
My other regular card vendor was present but evidently someone bought his entire baseball card stock a few weeks ago, so he didn't really have anything for me. The good news is that he told me he should have some brand-new baseball dime boxes on display in the coming weeks, so I'll look forward to that whenever I get a chance to hit the flea market again (hopefully on a day I can legitimately get off of work).
There's another card vendor who I keep calling a "semi-regular," but I think now that he's been around during my last half-dozen flea market runs, I'm finally ready to deem him a regular. (He's the one who had the '68 Clemente during my first trip of the year.)
He had his usual dime box array out last Sunday, and wouldn't you know it, I took down a coveted Dime Box Dozen suspect with this '85 Topps Fernando.
Time and time again, oddballs always seem to be the story of this guy's table.
A Topps Glossy Carter and a 3-D Mad Dog during Bill Madlock's brief stint with the Dodgers were among the day's highlights.
This marks the second straight time I've found Mother's Cookies singles at my local flea market.
Last time it was a near-complete set of '85 Astros, this time it was a couple hand-picked '85 Mariners at the Kingdome with Harold Reynolds (no comment) and the late Hendu here.
Let's hope that Mother's streak continues with my future flea market trips.
It's hard to tell from the scan, but I certainly got volume with this massively oversized Kirby Puckett for a dime.
I've never been a huge fan of oversized cards, but I buy them on the cheap when I can because they make for nice display pieces for the fronts of my binders.
Once the oddballs dried up, the dime box rookies took over.
John Kruk and Mitch Williams were both talented ballplayers who, for better or worse, are probably best known for their, let's say, blue-collar approach to the game.
It's funny, then, to see their baby-faced rookie selves on cards issued by Toys'R'Us featuring various shades of pink and light green.
I wouldn't say I furiously collect either Joe Girardi or Bernie Williams, but I've found it hard to pass up dime box rookies of well-known ballplayers lately.
Maybe sets like Bowman have watered down the concept in recent years, but I still think there's something forever sacred about a rookie card.
This vendor, as usual, also had a small box of higher-priced cards off to the side.
No Clementes this time, but I did drop a buck a piece on these two '87 rookies of Bo in the batting cage.
At three bucks each, these were the "high-dollar" pickups of the afternoon.
I've started to actively accumulate more Griffeys as of late, and, although I initially balked at the three-dollar price tag on these two rookie cards of The Kid, I had a what-the-heck moment and figured six bucks was a fair price for the pair if I wanted to take this next step in my Junior collection. Especially since he's a Hall of Famer now.
I guess my goal is to procrastinate as much as possible and secure all of Griffey's more attainable rookies before having to finally buckle down and chase the big one.
My last stop of the day was another familiar face.
The New Card Guy with all the unopened packs and miscellaneous singles from my initial flea market run of the year was back again, albeit in a different spot in one of the last aisles of the parking lot this time.
I was happy to see him back, and, though it didn't look like he had much new stock, I stuck my arm into his massive bin of unopened packs and dug out a some treasures I somehow missed the first time around.
I came out with two fresh 56-card rack packs of 1994 Topps, which set me back just a buck per.
While it's never been much more than an average Flagship set to me (#36 in my Topps countdown), '94 Topps probably does deserve a little more credit than it gets.
It's not a standout by any means, but there certainly isn't anything bad or unforgivable about this design. Turns out there's still a handful I still need from it, too, because every single card in this page was new to me.
The sheer joy I got from opening massive 56-card rack packs (take that Gypsy Queen and your nine-dollar, 21-card packs) was more than worth the two bucks to me.
I snagged another fifteen or so random singles from the guy's bins for a grand total of one dollar, which, with the rack packs, brought my total purchases from the table to a whopping three bucks.
A Pacific Aurora card (when's the last time anyone mentioned that brand?) of Orel Hershiser from his lost Giants years and an excellent National-issued oddball of Mr. Padre as a San Diego State Aztec were absolute steals at that sub-dime price point.
As was this, a stained and ragged '77 Hostess single of perhaps my favorite catcher of all-time.
Sometimes I wish I was around in the '70s to experience the feeling of physically cutting cards off of my boxes of Ho-Hos and Twinkies, but I've accumulated enough Hostess singles by now to not get too frustrated about it.
Especially when I can find them for mere pennies here in 2016.
I was a little shocked when the guy quoted me just three bucks on the lot, because I had a little vintage action going on with my purchase pile.
I found a small box of '60s singles in one corner of the table that I didn't remember perusing the last time around. Most of them were your common no-namers, but I secured a couple diamonds in the rough with these two Tigers stars here.
I now own all of Gates Brown's solo Topps cards (1966-75), and while Brown was a pinch-hitter extraordinaire during his career, I mainly collect him because of the time he slid into second base with hot dogs stuffed in his jersey.
We'll close my faux-sick day at the flea market with a classic card I couldn't believe I didn't already own.
Don Mossi is kind of a fan favorite amongst collectors, for obvious reasons. This might be his best (or worst?) cardboard appearance, and what kind of gets lost in the shuffle (also for obvious reasons) is the fact that this is actually his sunset card.
My collection somehow feels more complete now that I have it.
All in all, I managed to keep the day's finds to just about fifteen dollars total, which equals about two hours' worth of what I would've made at work that day -- after taxes, of course. Heck, I'll admit it: I have no regrets about calling in sick since I got an afternoon at the flea market out of it.
I can only hope no one from Corporate reads this blog.