Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The first card show of 2017
I hit my first card show of the new year with my dad this past Saturday at a (semi) local village hall gathering about an hour away from my house.
It couldn't have come at a better time, because I hadn't had much card-related activities going on thus far this winter. Not a lot of packages coming in and out, no new cards on the shelves, not much interaction with my collection in general. Between that and the fact that I was set to meet up with Tony for the first time, I found myself looking forward to this show more than any I can remember in a while.
The night before the big day, I decided to spice things up a bit by adding a new player collection to the fold: Nolan Arenado. The Rockies aren't very well-represented in my binders to begin with, and Arenado is one of the best sluggers in the game, so the choice was a no-brainer. It gave me a little pet project to chase the following afternoon.
Card shows are a great place to get a player collection going in a heartbeat. One of the first tables of the day, in fact, added the centerpiece to my sparkling new Arenado project: this rare pink parallel (numbered to 50) from last year's Update.
Not a bad way to get things up and running.
My one big hope for Saturday's card show, however, was a simple one: find cheap 2017 Topps.
One lap around the village hall revealed no visible signs of this year's Flagship. I wasn't able to concentrate on much else during the time I was touring the place. I'd been counting on this show to knock out the vast remainder of my needs from 2017 Topps.
Thankfully, I asked one vendor who had some new Topps inserts on display if he had any base singles from the set, and he pointed me to a few large stacks of cards at the far end of his table, all 2017 Topps. I actually said the word Awesome! when he did this, something I almost never do (in public).
I did away with about 95 percent of my remaining needs at what turned out to be just a dime per.
A vendor a few tables down took care of a large chunk of my 2017 insert needs on the cheap, as I got a stack of about 50 for $9.
The "Salute" inserts work best when they focus on uniforms and, with the four I purchased on Saturday (not pictured: Harold Reynolds), I'm now more than halfway done with finishing off the "MLB Network" series.
Sometimes card shows can shine a new light on something you've previously ignored.
I was, at best, lukewarm about this year's '87 minis upon my first samples of 2017 Topps, just because of how often we've seen the wood-grain design in recent years. After picking up an ample amount of '87s on Saturday, however, I have a new appreciation for it. Yes, the design is overused, but these are still darn fine cardboard specimens and a fun insert set to chase.
That Ozzie Smith has to be the Card of the Year so far.
I also picked up my four most pressing "First Pitch" needs from 2017 Topps, though my favorite of the bunch is most likely John Goodman.
It's a league game, Smokey.
With 2017 Topps out of the way, I was able to focus on the most important part of the card show experience: the random stuff.
The very first table of the day featured as perfectly random of a dime box as you could ever hope for, which got this much-anticipated show off on the right foot. At one point, I unearthed something you rarely see: dime Kellogg's.
This Jack Clark was the only keeper of the lot, but I did find a few others to distribute in future trade packages.
Card shows may be invigorating due to this dive into the unknown, but, even with someone as consistently random as myself, there's still some dime box cornerstones I seem to dig up at every gathering.
As usual, Vlad and Ichiro came out to play on Saturday.
As usual, I couldn't resist the allure of some dime box shiny.
As usual, dime box minis were on full display.
And, as usual, I found myself making all sorts of new cardboard discoveries thanks to the uncharted paradise that is a card show.
That's the first I've seen of E-X's (awesome) jersey-shaped inserts, and it turns out the already-geeky Orel Hershiser sported an even more Revenge of the Nerds look in his college days.
These two horizontals cost just 35 cents together: a quarter for the Stooges (spread out!) and a dime for that beautiful Joe Morgan (with a Vida Blue cameo).
It always warms my heart to find high-end base cards in a dime box.
Though 2017 may have been fresh on my mind on Saturday, I managed to mop up a few remaining 2016 needs on the cheap as well.
Among my favorites are the "First Pitch" Craig Sager insert (RIP), the National Baseball Card Day Arrieta, and the Wal-Mart-exclusive Abreu snowflake parallel, which I was surprised to find in a dime box about halfway through the show.
I guess some vendors buy retail just like the rest of us.
Archives is notorious for its tough short-prints, but that didn't stop these two from winding up in a dime box.
This particular show has been light on the mini-collection hits the last couple times I've attended, but Saturday changed that in a flash.
These were all a dime each, and the finding "Unique Unis" Halladay for an FDR made me feel stupid about dropping a dollar per on a couple inserts from the same set at my LCS.
The last dime box I dug through was an all-retired dime box from a vendor I've seen on a few occasions at this show.
While it does extract a bit of the random factor, I think it's smart to separate out the current and non-current guys to cater to certain collectors. It makes a simple dime box dig feel like a history lesson.
I certainly get a kick out of digging through stacks and stacks of all-legend cards, and I'm particularly enthralled with that Pee Wee Reese insert.
Some cool Fan Favorites from the all-retired dime box, though I'd be lying if I didn't say that Bob Sheppard didn't spook me a bit.
A couple legendary quarter box gets.
Tony was actually the one who found the Ott insert as we were digging and asked if I needed it, so full credit to him on that one.
This same quarter-box vendor gave myself and the other shoppers at his table the equivalent to a two-minute warning late in the afternoon: he was about to pack up for the day, so there was only a short time left to pick out whatever you wanted to buy.
At that point, I began rifling through the 50-cent bins. I'm normally picky when it comes to anything over the quarter, but I started pulling cards left and right. I'd been way under budget most of the day and decided to treat myself to some "high-dollar" purchases.
Mega-box parallels, gold parallels, high-end parallels, Yaz: all were deemed worthy of their 50-cent price tags.
Out of the vendor's two-dollar box came what is (surprisingly) my very first sabermetric short-print.
Finally, between All-Star Whitey...
...and the Duke, I saved a couple sacred pieces of vintage from the vendor's three-dollar box with just minutes to spare.
I've always thought this "Baseball Thrills" subset was criminally underrated, as I almost never see them mentioned anywhere around the cardboard community.
What started out as a tongue-in-cheek quest has become a foreseeable reality: I am on a mission to obtain every Seattle Pilots card ever made.
I made a couple major strides in realizing that goal at Saturday's show thanks to a vendor with all sorts of vintage scattered around his table, many of which were tough high-numbers. I actually collect Ted Kubiak -- a reserve infielder on the Swingin' A's teams of the early '70s -- and I didn't know he had a Pilots card until recently.
For three bucks, I scored this pesky high-number (#688) and semi-zero-year card: Kubiak never played for the Pilots, though he did suit up for the Brewers when the team moved to Milwaukee in 1970.
But here's the biggest Pilots acquisition I've made in a long, long time: the only team card ever produced of the doomed Seattle Pilots.
Again, its high-number status (#713) had prevented me from adding it to my collection at a reasonable figure. In fact, I'd never seen it cheaper than the price the vendor had it marked at on Saturday: five bucks. Most copies I'd tracked previously went for twice that, and the vast majority of those were in far worse shape than the one I bought on Saturday.
Talk about a bargain.
My birthday is coming up, and, as an early gift, Dad was generous enough to float me $20 to spend however I saw fit.
I spent $12 of that on the aforementioned Pilots cards and this '51 Bowman Richie Ashburn, originally priced at five bucks though the vendor let me have it for $4. Ashburn has long been a favorite of mine -- has there ever been a better baseball name? -- and this beauty is now the oldest card of his I own.
Even with that trio of vintage heaven, I still had eight bucks to play with...
...and I used it to track down a card I've been chasing for what seems like forever.
You may have heard the story behind these before: leading into the '74 season, the Padres seemed all but sold to investors who wanted to move the team to Washington. McDonald's mogul Ray Kroc swooped in and bought the Padres at the last minute, keeping the franchise in San Diego -- though not before a handful of Topps cards slipped out of the presses with "Washington -- Nat'l Lea." listings on them, which were soon pulled and corrected.
Like my Pilots project, my quest to chase down the full set of "Washington -- Nat'l Lea." variations from '74 Topps once seemed like an impossibility. But eight dollars later, the toughest part of that goal has been reached: Willie McCovey is now mine. Maybe it's not so absurd after all.
Turns out that the insane amount of fun I had on Saturday might just be the powerful intro to a continuing saga of this particular card show, because, wouldn't you know it, they're holding it again this coming Sunday, the 19th. Also known as my birthday.
It seemed silly to think of at first. Two card shows in two weeks? No way. But: I took the day off work, I'll have a few extra bucks, I'll have the whole morning free, and, come to think of it, there were a few stones I left unturned this past Saturday...
I think a second trip to the card show is in order, birthday style.