As I hinted at in my last card show post, there was one major reason why my experience at the big tri-annual gathering felt quite different this time around.
That's because, for the first time in the near-decade I've been going to this thing, I treated myself to a second day of strolling through the aisles with Dad and making cardboard snow angels in my mind the following Sunday. The show runs Friday-Sunday, but either time, money, or energy (usually a combination of all three) have prevented me from adding a bonus day to the calendar in the past.
At some point over the past month, I came up with the wild scheme of trying for a second day at the card show. And I'll be darned if I didn't make it happen -- with a few extra bucks in my pocket, a shrewdly-used vacation day from work, and a Diet Coke at my side, I had all the ammunition I needed to take on the elusive Day Two at the card show this year.
As you can probably see from my spoils above, Day Two proved to be every bit as plentiful as the first.
As great as my finds have always been at this show, I've often come home afterwards with the mindset of a Monday Morning Quarterback: Oh, maybe I should've bought THAT after all or Aw, maybe I should've spent more time at THAT table instead of THIS one, etc., etc.
With Day Two under my belt, there was absolutely no need for such thoughts. I spent much of Sunday doing recon on the tables I'd only partially sifted through the day before -- and as you might guess, it didn't take long for me to make a beeline back to those glorious early-to-mid-2000s dime boxes I raved about in my first post about this show.
Almost instantly came perhaps my most surprising find of the second day: a 2010 Upper Deck Justin Turner rookie, my first card of his gloriously brief stop as an Oriole (17 games) and a card I actually took down from my Dime Box Dozen list a while ago because I thought there was no chance in heck that any of them were actually sitting in dime boxes.
Shows what I know.
I've gotten a lot better at not feeling the overwhelming need to sift through every single card in any given dime box over the years -- but all that went out the window with dime boxes as varied and phenomenal as these.
I spent about 45 minutes at this table on Day One and over an hour there on Day Two and, yes, I got through every single one of the dozen-ish 3200-count boxes the guy had on display, purchasing over 800 cards combined between the two digs.
My dad thought I was crazy -- and maybe you do, too -- but with cards as great as these, there was no way I could risk leaving anything behind.
As I stressed in that first post, you just don't see this kind of stuff in dime boxes, and I knew that if I didn't dig through it all then that I'd probably never see it again.
Three of these cards are numbered parallels, and even the one that isn't (Bautista) brings about a great deal of nostalgia for those spectacular Topps Wal-Mart black parallels from what sometimes seems like eons ago.
You ever see a set and wonder why you didn't appreciate it more at the time?
That's basically how I feel about 2009 Topps. It was one of the last Flagship sets with a distinct vibe to it...and I barely gave it a second thought when it was actually on the shelves. I've tried to recoup some of my losses in the years since, but for some reason, they don't seem to pop up too often now, and a lot of the original photography in the set (a stark contrast to today's Topps, one might notice) risks being lost to history.
At least until Sunday, when a whole run of them popped out about halfway through this heavenly dime box dig.
A quartet of horizontals, all beautiful in their own distinct way -- especially the Etch-A-Sketch Albert Belle, a brilliant insert set I'd seen around the blogs many times before but had never actually added to my own collection before this show.
Dime box legends, including a previously unknown card of Duke Snider's brief stint with the Mets.
At this point, I began to wonder: how could this dig possibly get any better?
The dime boxes answered with a WHOLE ROW of Fan Favorites singles.
And then came the final, crushing blow: a long run of Topps Retired Signature.
I've said many times before that one of my dreams is to find a whole dime box full of Retired Signature cards, and this dig provided the closest thing I've seen to that yet. I absolutely LOVE the design -- trouble is the set was a high-end one, making the base cards tough to find on the cheap now.
All I could do at the end of it all was vehemently thank this dime box vendor for allowing me the privilege to look through the deepest ranks of his insane inventory -- it's a dig I'll remember for many years to come.
My first stop of Day Two was a common face at this show: a husband-and-wife team whose vintage tables take up about half an aisle all on their own.
I'll just put it this way -- if you're looking for a card from about 1952 on, chances are they probably have it. Sure, they have their PSA-10 and glass-case material for those collectors with much deeper pockets than myself, but you know me: I went straight for the boxes marked BARGAINS.
It took only a couple minutes of digging for a long-awaited card to fall out of the discount box with this '73 Topps Dave Johnson, a dreaded high-number which had previously been a glaring hole in my double dip mini-collection.
Proudly hovering over these discount boxes was a sign that said: CUSTOMERS SAY OUR BARGAIN BOXES ARE THE BEST ONES AT THE SHOW.
It's hard to argue with that when you look at the results. These cost just $10 all together -- Minoso and Gibson were two bucks a pop, while the glorious '65s of Eddie and Boog (the latter being a short-print, to boot) set me back three bucks per.
I don't know much about life, but I know this: there are few greater joys than plucking '65 Topps singles out of bargain boxes.
Anything unsleeved within the discount boxes was fifty cents, and believe it or not, these were all among the Unsleeved.
All it took was 50 cents per to knock out a few beautiful vintage singles I've long wanted thanks to their repeated appearances on Night Owl's blog.
It was quite a shock to find these two Roses in the bargain bins for just five dollars each, and I spent a couple minutes trying to decide which one to buy until I decided the effort was futile since the little voice in my head was screaming at me to JUST BUY THEM BOTH!
I suppose the Little Voice in My Head could be telling me worse things to do than buy baseball cards of Pete Rose.
Rounding things out from the customer-recommended discount bins was a well-loved '68 Topps Game single of the man himself, Roberto Clemente -- mine for a whopping two dollars.
Day Two at the card show pretty much centered around three tables, but I did make a couple hit-and-run purchases at various points throughout the afternoon.
These two came from the 90% Off vendor I discussed in my previous vintage post -- though these weren't actually part of the 90% Off deal, I couldn't complain about finding them for a measly two bucks a pop.
This was the final card I purchased on Sunday, and it came from the first guy I've ever seen with an actual cash register behind his table, one that went DING and KER-SHUNK and everything.
I could tell these guys were in it for the business of it all rather than pure enjoyment: most of their cards were woefully overpriced, and they all ended in .99 ($4.99, $10.99, etc.), also something I've never seen before. This '59 Kaline -- now my oldest card of his -- was, for some reason, the lone reasonably-priced item at the table.
I got it for 20% Off its original $5.99 price tag...and yes, the guy charged me exactly $4.80 for it, change and all.
All told, Dad and I were perhaps most eager to return to the vendor with all the random oddballs I'd found at the tail end of Day One.
This time, I picked out absolutely anything and everything that caught my eye. Despite the jaw-dropping deal I'd gotten the day before, I knew I was probably going beyond the $40 limit I'd set for myself at his table (his stuff was unpriced, remember).
In the end, I came up to his table with two separate stacks of cards in my hand -- the guy quoted me $25 on one of the stacks, and I knew I wanted those for reasons you'll see in a bit.
While parts of me died inside seeing some of what didn't fall under the $15 umbrella -- many glorious Kellogg's cards were forced to stay within the confines of the convention hall -- I still couldn't much complain about what I was able to get for the price.
In addition to the Dave Kingman seen above -- my first card from the scarce 1975 SSPC set -- came these two Cubs legends from the 3-D-less '73 Kellogg's checklist.
Also thrown into the deal was a large stack of Hostess singles which the guy obviously didn't cherish as much as his Kellogg's stuff -- all these were only part of the total Hostess package I got for my $15.
As I said, I'd been quoted a price of $25 on the second stack of cards I'd brought up to the guy, and I knew I wasn't putting those back.
Along with a few tchotchkes from his oddball box came these '60s Fleer Greats singles, some (but not all) of which are seen in this nine-pocket page here. While the Tinker-Evers-Chance combo and worn Christy Mathewson are indeed terrific, my favorite of the lot has to be the Hack Wilson, the only card I've ever seen that chronicles his quick seven-game stint with the Phillies at the end of his career.
Great cards, yes, but it was something else entirely that convinced me to fork over twenty-five whole dollars for this second stack of oddball heaven.
This was the responsible party.
As the story goes, Maury Wills never forgave Topps for not offering him a contract when he was an unknown minor leaguer. This grudge manifested itself when Wills became one of the game's premier superstars in the early '60s and refused to sign with Topps. Wills did, however, appear to be on better terms with Fleer, appearing in their '63 checklist for what would be his first-ever baseball card.
All this meant that '63 Fleer is technically home to Maury Wills's rookie, this marking probably the only time a guy had a rookie card issued after he'd already won an MVP award. The sheer oddity of it all is what had long made this a desired card for my collection.
But it wasn't a card I ever realistically planned on owning, because, best I can tell, there's a bit of a cult status around it that greatly inflates its price. For comparison's sake, I saw a copy in about the same shape as the one I eventually acquired priced at $45 earlier in the show. And I repeat, this one became mine -- with all those other '60s Fleer Greats singles -- for just $25(!!!).
Certain cards seem to orbit in a world entirely apart from mine, and before Sunday, this was one of those cards.
But if the Wills was part of a different world, than what we have here previously existed in a whole other universe.
And I wasn't even the one who found it. That honor goes to dear old Dad, who, at one point, wandered off during my aforementioned dime box dig and came back with a big smile on his face holding something he deemed Another Early Christmas Present and handed me a small card and what could it be OH MY GOD IT'S A REAL EDDIE CICOTTE AND WHERE IN THE HELL DID YOU FIND THIS?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
Dad, as only Dad can do, was apparently absentmindedly perusing what looked to be a mediocre $10 Box when he unearthed what might just be the biggest surprise I've ever seen in my many years of card shows: a real 1920s strip card of Eddie Cicotte, better known as one of the Black Sox. I'll repeat that: a REAL Black Sox card...for ten dollars.
It's long been a dream of mine to own an actual card of one of the Black Sox, and though it seemed in doubt for many years, that dream finally came true in what proved to be a card show haul for the record books.
So yeah...Day Two? Worth it.
Thank you, Dad, for making it through two days of walking and standing around as I embarked on all these lengthy digs (and also for being just about the only person on this earth I'd take a selfie with).
Thank you, readers, for coming along for what I hope was an exciting two-day ride through the card show.
And thank you, O hallowed card show vendors, for allowing your many castoffs to become mine.