This past Saturday was a much needed Card Show Day for me.
For the third time this year, I made the hour-long trek into the deep suburbs for a semi-local Village Hall show. This gathering was once a Sunday-only event, but this year they've tried to change it up by holding a few Saturday dates, and the response has been less than positive.
Though it wasn't quite as barren as this image courtesy of Dad makes it out to be (with yours truly hunched over in the foreground), attendance was definitely down on Saturday from both customers and vendors alike, perhaps about three-quarters the size of the standard Sunday shows.
I'm worried the Village Hall is going to gut Saturdays altogether.
This is worrisome because Saturdays are logistically better for me: I have the day off work anyways (unlike Sunday), no schedule switches or call-offs needed if I ever get a card show hankering.
And, despite the low turnout, the Village Hall was still as gem-filled as ever on Saturday, and I managed to stay well under the budget I'd set for myself, a budget which sacrificed a dollar for this 1915 Sporting News reprint of the Babe here.
I don't usually pay a buck for reprints, but I couldn't pass this one up, a rehashing of the Great Bambino's first card as a big-leaguer.
One of the first vendors of the day had a small rubberbanded stack of these TCMA Cardinals greats priced at a buck each or 3/$2.
I have an ongoing love affair with TCMA sets, and they're darn near impossible to find at card shows, so I jumped at the change to own a few of my favorite Redbirds from this set.
This marks the second time in a row that I've found a team-issued White Sox team set at this show.
This one (from 1997) was two dollars well-spent and included a surprise card of Nellie Fox, who had been inducted into Cooperstown that same year.
Like most shows I attend, part of my goal this time around was to knock out some recent needs on the cheap.
I got my first look at 2017 Diamond Kings on Saturday, a set that was apparently in vogue since I managed to pick up darn near all the base cards (as well as some inserts/parallels) I needed at a dime a pop.
I like the design a bit better than last year's, and between guys like Kiki Cuyler and Jim Thorpe, the old-time player selection is still top-notch.
I also took care of a good bunch of this year's GQ needs for nickels and dimes, and also got my first look at 2017 Bowman, which, true to form, is really isn't much different than any other year of Bowman.
Bowman's inserts, on the other hand, are surprisingly noteworthy.
These two Dodger greats were a quarter a pop, and both evoke that '50s Bowman feel with a bit of shiny thrown in for good measure (even if the Koufax scanned like garbage).
I can't decide if these are the Best or Worst Inserts of the Year.
They're obviously a nod to the Fashion Show from Hell that is 1992 Bowman, and despite the cringe-worthy wardrobes of the originals, there's something oddly refreshing about seeing current stars like Thor and Rizzo in leisure suits and khakis.
I don't know about you, but I'm leaning towards Best Inserts of the Year.
These neat finds covered many different prices in the card show economy: Jackie and "Chicken Man" Wade Boggs were a quarter, Altuve was a buck, and Diz was a knockout dime box find.
Something tells me Panini is keeping close tabs on Topps and specifically, the beauty of framed parallels.
Both of these came from the first table of the day: Pops (numbered to 599 copies) was a quarter, and the Daubert (99 copies) -- another lesser-known, brilliant player choice on the part of Panini -- was a whole dollar.
But even with all those great quarter-and-up pickups, I don't want you thinking I ignored the dime boxes.
While there were only about ten vendors set up on Saturday, about half of them had dime cards. This is what I love most about the smaller shows in my area: there are always cheapies for me to dig through. The low-end collector can live like a king.
Sometimes those cheapies can include short-prints like the Cepeda and Martin, the latter of which is my first of the "Out of Bounds" variations from 2013 Topps.
Sometimes the cheapies include cards which originally weren't so cheap at all, like these two singles from the high-end Topps Tribute and Triple Threads brands.
A constant card show thrill for me is and will always be unearthing new mini-collection hits for the binders.
It's not often I welcome new Cancecos into my collection, but I had to make an exception for that rare broken bat/throwback combo.
Dime box oddballs!
Dime box minis!
Dime box rookies!
The vendor with these first-year FDRs remembered me from the last time I attended this show, and I had a blast digging through his dime cards. I tend to ignore rookies when they come out nowadays, but a decade from now, I'm sure I'll be able to look back and recognize some of the names, as I did with this quartet.
(I miss Tim Lincecum.)
And to add another chapter in the book of Card Show Generosity: this same rookie vendor had a couple oversized box-bottom Diamond Kings at the corner of his table and asked if I collected either of the guys featured on them.
I said I did, and it's true, although Donaldson is much more of a higher priority than Zunino, who I wrongly guessed was going to become the Next Big Thing when he was drafted by the Mariners. In response, the vendor said I could simply have the box-bottoms, a generosity for which I vehemently thanked him.
Small acts, my friends, go a long ways.
"'64 is the last Kaat I need to own all of his Topps cards. Here's hoping I can find a good deal on one soon."
This is a comment I left on Robert's blog the very Saturday morning I attended this show (congrats on finishing the '64 set!). Little did I know "soon" would be all of a few hours, which is incredible considering this is a card I'd been chasing for years.
As is a common tale with many of my vintage needs, this '64 Kaat is a dreaded high-number (#567) and usually carries a high premium. So you can imagine my surprise when I found one in a stack of dollar vintage(!) about halfway through the show. In the snap of a finger, my Kaat "Topps Set" had been put to bed. And the story doesn't end there: turns out I won $20 in COMC store credit from Robert as part of a contest for leaving a comment on that post.
Jim Kaat is the gift that keeps on giving.
One of the other regular vendors at this Village Hall show also has dollar vintage spread out in about a half-dozen 3200-count boxes along his table, mostly from the '60s and early '70s.
I've never done a thorough dig through them, because 98 percent of the cards in there are either commons and/or cards I already own. But with some time and money to kill on Saturday, I decided to drown myself in all that dollar vintage. While it was a long and sometimes dull journey through the Dan Osinskis and George Alusiks of the baseball card world, I did stick around long enough to reap a few of the benefits.
From the '67s came a Cleon Jones I'd long desired and the Claude Raymond, a seemingly ordinary card made infamous by the fact that Raymond's fly is open.
The Fingers was certainly a surprise for a buck, and like Kaat before him, that completes my "Topps Set" of Rollie.
This dollar-vintage journey, however, became a game of Needle in the Haystack once I remembered I needed a copy of Boog Powell's 1970 Topps card. Dad and I rifled through the box in search of it, and my dad was actually the one who captured the elusive Boog.
The main culprit had been caught, making for the most refreshing moment of this dollar-box dig...
...at least until Mr. Stargell fell out a short while later.
I couldn't believe it! Mixed in amongst all the no-namers was Pops himself on what is his first solo Topps card. It's one I've admired from afar without having the necessary budget and luck to acquire a copy. Until Saturday, anyways.
I'm not altogether sure this one was supposed to be in that dollar box in the first place, but as the kids on the schoolyard say: Finders Keepers.
Most of the dime cards I showed earlier in this post came from the very first vendor of the day, but the fun didn't end there because he had some other quarter-and-up cards spread throughout the rest of his table.
Those boxes included glorious Kellogg's, as I scored these 3-D beauties of Winfield (a quarter) and Yaz (a buck) without doing much damage to my wallet.
Hostess was even more plentiful on Saturday.
These all came from that same vendor's dollar box and were each Washingtons well spent, especially the Reggie, which is a card I've been coveting for a while.
This one -- a short-printed Hostess Eddie Murray rookie card I'd never seen before Saturday -- fell out of the guy's higher-priced box, and I initially balked at the five-dollar price tag.
In fact, I put it back, fully ready to leave it behind as the vendor was totaling up my purchases. All told, I'd picked out about $45 worth of cards from him, but in another nice episode in the Generosity Chronicles, he decided to let me have everything for $35.
I was in the process of pulling two twenties from my pocket when I remembered Eddie Murray. With the discount I got on the lot, I figured, it'd basically be free. Or whatever else I needed to tell myself to rationalize the purchase.
In the end, I think I made the right choice: I know myself well enough to know that I would've been kicking myself all the way home had I left poor Eddie back in the Village Hall.
We'll close the tab with what turned out to be my two priciest purchases of the day.
The same vendor with the boxes of dollar vintage also has stacks and stacks of higher-priced oldies scattered around his table. They're usually a bit rich for my blood, not so much because they're overpriced but more due to the fact that most are in good shape and thus out of my price range.
I did, however, manage to dig up one fairly well-loved single from the stacks with Robin Roberts here, another frustrating high-number (#530) I've wanted for a while because a) it chronicles Roberts's brief stint with the Astros, and b) it's his sunset card.
I'd never seen Robin priced lower than the $7 price tag attached to him on Saturday.
I thought long and hard when I saw yet another card I've wanted for what seems like forever in the vintage stacks, this one priced at $15.
Like the Roberts, this is a damn uber-high-number (#754) that doesn't come cheap. Also like the Roberts, my obsession over it stems from its depiction of an unfamiliar stint, this one being Frank Robinson's brief tenure with the Dodgers.
Did I really want to pay $22 for Robin and Frank? I probably would have, but -- while it's not in my nature as a card show attendee -- I decided to see if I could try and haggle the price down a bit, nervously offering $15 for the pair. The vendor countered at $17, and I accepted. Two longtime needs were needs no more, putting the cap on what was another successful card show.
Needless to say, I'm in full support of keeping this Saturday show alive and kicking.
I'll darn well run it myself if I have to.