Two tables pretty much stole the spotlight at Sunday's card show.
Not surprisingly, both were heavy on the vintage, and both yielded some of the best discounts and deals I can ever remember finding in a single day.
The first of the two vendors had several towers of vintage scattered around his table, mostly organized by set. I picked a few stacks at random, and, lo and behold, I found a card I've wanted for a long time amongst his rubble of '72s with this Jesus Alou uber-high number (#716).
I've mentioned my fandom of the Alou Bros. many times on this blog, and I was more than happy to throw three bucks at this one since it's not every day you see '72 high numbers.
As I paid for the Alou, I noticed a few discounted boxes at the end of the guy's table, the first of which was filled with cards at a quarter a pop or 5/$1.
The first few stacks I pulled out weren't all that spectacular, and I came close to abandoning the search and continuing my trek with Jeff through the rest of the village hall. That is, until I found a '61 Topps Jim "Mudcat" Grant I needed, which pushed me to find four more I needed to get the 5/$1 deal.
It wasn't too long after that I found another card I've had on my radar for a while with that '62 Topps Herb Score, his sunset issue.
I've had the Archives reprint of it sitting all alone in my binder for years, and it's been driving me absolutely nuts.
Soon, the task of finding just five cards went out the window.
My pile kept getting larger and larger with discounted vintage. Five cards...ten...fifteen...then twenty, and counting. All of these fell out of that 5/$1 box, and it soon became apparent that this dig was going to be something special.
I've added dozens of those '60s Fleer Greats of the Game to my collection at the last few shows I've attended and, as an added bonus, I didn't even know Lloyd Waner ever played for the Reds until Sunday.
Even the Sweathogs were no strangers to the discount boxes.
I forked over a buck for the Colavito, and, amazingly, the Banks was indeed a member of that 5/$1 box.
Well-loved or not, Mr. Cub certainly made for one of the best bargains of the afternoon.
I haven't had a ton of success with vintage oddballs at the card shows I've attended this year, which made Sunday's victories in that realm especially sweet.
I must admit, '73 Kellogg's will never look quite right to me without the 3-D effect, but I still can't turn down stars like Bob Gibson (two dollars) and Willie Stargell (a dollar) at rock-bottom prices.
But seriously, I hope Kellogg's fired whoever was responsible for thinking non-3-D cards were ever a good idea...
...because when it comes to Kellogg's, it's 3-D or bust.
Surprisingly, the cheapest card of this bunch was actually the Pete Rose, which was, yes, another 5/$1 box suspect. The rest were all fifty-centers, with my personal favorite probably being the Mad Hungarian.
Although with Kellogg's, they're kinda all my favorite.
This beauty came from a $2 box, or 6/$10.
Harvey Haddix has always been one of my favorite guys to collect because a) he'll forever be enshrined in baseball lore with his 12-inning perfect game, and b) his cards cost next to nothing.
You won't find many relatively well-known names from '55 Topps at such a low price point.
The cards in the final box of this guy's table were $4 each, or 4/$10...and boy, did I make those four count.
I had to rub my eyes to make sure I had the price right on that '61 Spahn, as I've never seen his cards anywhere that cheap before. The Drysdale and Seaver had been on my watch list for ages before Sunday, and it's hard for me to pass up anything of Roger Maris at bargain rates.
Even more fascinating is the fact that Maris is actually the baserunner on that World Series highlight shot, not the man at the plate, which I didn't notice until I was digging through my finds late Sunday night.
Kellogg's, Sweathogs, high numbers: that discount vintage haul alone would've been more than enough to tide me over for the afternoon, needless to say.
But those sneaky cardboard gods had other things in mind.
Though the card show officially closed at 2 PM, the vast majority of the vendors started packing up around 1-1:30. Jeff and I made our rounds around the remaining tables as if it were last call at a bar. Among the last vendors standing were a guy-girl couple with a discount vintage box I somehow missed during my initial foray through the hall.
They were some of the nicest people I've ever dealt with at a card show, as both kindly informed Jeff and I that they'd stick around for however long it took for us to dig through their inventory. They also let us know that anything priced at a quarter in their box was now a dime, and anything at 50 cents was now a quarter.
This magnificent Bill Freehan PATP -- yet another masterpiece from '73 Topps I'd never seen before -- was one of the first dime suspects I found.
The condition on most of the cards wasn't great, but that's really second nature for me if it results in vintage high numbers like these two winding up in dime boxes.
Also, a minor victory: with that '71 Aaron (#717) -- his sunset card -- I now own every single Topps card of Tommie Aaron.
Poor condition or not, I couldn't believe these two ended up in the dime box.
Like the aforementioned Tommie Aaron, that '65 rookie completed my Topps set of Jose Cardenal. And although the Piniella isn't a true rookie (you have to go all the way back to '64 Topps for that), it's still a treasured new addition to my Pilots collection, as well as a hallowed zero-year card since Sweet Lou was traded to the Royals before ever suiting up for Seattle.
Speaking of defunct franchises...
...I couldn't resist these at a dime per.
Pilots aside, I don't usually go out of my way to chase cards of defunct teams like the Senators and Colt .45s. It's what I call a sometimes collection. But if you throw them at me at a dime a pop, I don't have much of a choice in the matter.
The quarter cards kicked off with yet another new addition to my sometimes collection of defunct teams.
I'm glad Ted Williams got a shot at managing in the big leagues, if for no other reason than I can say I found a vintage Topps card of his for a quarter and not be lying about it.
The dime finds were certainly special, but I think the quarter cards outdid them in the WOW department.
(Sidebar: This is why well-loved vintage is sometimes the best vintage.)
Another pair of WOW finds.
Both of these guys are currently enshrined in Cooperstown, and I have to believe this is the first time I've found '60s vintage of them for as low as a quarter.
Sunday's gathering knocked out more of my specific, long-standing needs than any other single show I can remember.
Curt Flood is up there on my all-time favorite ballplayers list, and it makes sense that I'd desperately want a card of him on my all-time favorite Topps design. I love anything and everything Don Zimmer, but his '62 Topps card in particular has been a big need of mine because of his extremely short stint (14 games) with the expansion Mets that year.
I still can't quite believe these were only a quarter a piece.
More quarter cards, more oddballs, more joy.
Perhaps the biggest WOW of the quarter bin was this one, a '69 Deckle Edge of the Say Hey Kid himself, Willie Mays.
And just when I thought the oddball train had run out of steam...
...I moved on to the couple's box of higher-priced vintage.
At two bucks, I jumped at the chance to own this '70 Kellogg's Tony Oliva, a flawless card of one of the era's better hitters.
By this point, Jeff and I were among the last people in the village hall, so I figured it was high time I started to wrap things up.
The frugal side of me spent a few minutes deciding which of these Bob Ueckers I should buy while my more trigger-happy gut stepped in and shouted at me to JUST BUY BOTH, YOU MORON!
My gut won. At five bucks, the '65 was the most expensive card I purchased all day, and the '66 wasn't far behind at four dollars. I don't know what it is with this show and Uecker, seeing as how I found his '67 Topps sunset card in a nickel box the last time I attended.
With that, I paid for my cards, thanked the couple, and went on my merry way...
...until I saw a small stack of '75 Topps Minis I'd missed the first time around.
The Fisk and Munson were a buck a piece, and everything else here was a quarter. I paid for them and said goodbye again.
Okay, I told myself, you had your fun, but now it's REALLY time to go.
But I just couldn't get a card I saw in that higher-priced box out of my head.
This '67 Jim Hunter is absolutely stunning (as the autograph shows, he was already "Catfish" by then), but I initially balked at the five-dollar price tag. Still, the more I thought about it, the more I knew I couldn't leave it behind. I let my gut win out again and pulled a five-dollar bill from my wallet.
When I brought it up to the guy, he said: Just gimme two bucks. Okay! Vendor generosity, a new Catfish for the collection, and maybe the steal of the day. A perfect way to close out the show.
Now it was time to go.
I think I might have a problem.
Call it an addiction, call it dedication, call it whatever you want. No matter what I told myself, I just couldn't tear myself away from that table. And that's how I ended up making four separate purchases to close out the day, the last being this long-coveted Bruce Sutter rookie for four bucks, a card which, for whatever reason, has been shockingly hard to find at local shows.
Somehow, I did manage to eventually leave that table, and I pushed through the doors of the village hall with a huge grin on my face. I couldn't help but think of how long it'd been since I'd had a Sunday off work, and the fact that my shift would've started not too long before the time I left the card show.
Instead of wearing a work shirt and khakis and totaling up purchases on a cash register, I was in a t-shirt and jeans and cradling a bulging bag of baseball cards.
That might've been the best feeling of them all.